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Takayama festival logistics help?

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My wife and I are considering going to the Takayama Matsui festival on October 9 and 10 (as part of a first-time visit to Japan). We will be coming from Tokyo, and were able to get a hotel reservation in the city of Takayama for October 10, but the closest accommodation we could find for October 9 is in Gero.

We are thinking of taking the train from Tokyo to Takayama on the morning of the 9th, spend the day and evening at the festival, then take the train to Gero that evening and check into the hotel. ( If I've read Hyperdia right, there is a 9:45 p.m. train from Takayama to Gero. ) We would return by train to Takayama the morning of the 10th and spend the the day and night there.

Questions:
1. With the festival going on, I assume we need to make train/seat reservations as soon as possible for the trip from Tokyo to Takayama (via Nagoya), and for the train from Takayama to Gero and back to Takayama the next day. Yes?
2. We will be getting JR passes for the trip, but since we won't be in Japan until til 4 days before traveling to Takayama, do I need to just reserve and pay for these tickets from the U.S. before getting the JR passes?
3. What could we do with our luggage? I am concerned the train station storage might be too busy/full to hold our bags during the day of October 9? I guess I could ask the Takayama hotel we will be staying at October 10 to store them after our arrival in Takayama on October 9, or have them sent on to Kanazawa...
4. Is this whole scenario crazy? This is our first time in Japan. We know we will miss experiencing the usual Takayama sites, and know we will be seeing so much in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and other places that we're debating whether this complicated idea is worth it...

Thanks for any input you may have.

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