(Dec 2, 2013)
This part is the most challenging to plan yet one of my favorite parts of our Japan trip.
Shirakawago is a small village in the Gifu and Toyama prefecture… I actually had no idea this village existed if not for the Japan travel guide here. When I saw the description and pictures of the place, and the chance to experience being able to live in a traditional farmhouse, I was excited and determined to find a way to fit this into the itinerary somehow!
First thing was to sort out how to get here from Osaka while still making the most of our JR pass.
There were different options available based on our research (to be provided in detail later on when I upload our full Japan itinerary).. but the route we ended up choosing was this:
|Option 2: Osaka – Kanazawa – Shirakawa go||only pay for bus, cheapest option|
|Shin Osaka – Kanazawa station (2h50m) Express thunderbird||6930||7:14 or 7:44 am||covered by JR pass. Will arrive around 9:45-10:24|
|Kanazawa station-Shirakawa go via Nohi bus (1h15m)||1800||8:45 or 12:35 am only||cost one way. can’t use JR pass. Need to reserve if doing this. Arrive @shirakawa around 1:50 pm|
This option allows us a bit of resting time in Kanazawa, and we still arrive in Shirakawago early afternoon. It’s also the cheapest option based on our computations because we only paid for the bus ride going to Shirakawa go, but the train ride was covered by the JR pass.
There’s quite a few tourists that come over here for a daytrip, but because of the remote location it’s not as crowded as the other touristy places in Japan. Plus the daytrippers have to leave based on the bus timetables for departures, so it felt like we had the whole village to ourselves and just took a relaxed pace to walk around and see the area since we planned to stay in the village overnight.
Here’s some of the photos I took while we walked around the village.
The highlight of Shirakawago is the gassho-zukiri style farmhouses. What’s unique about how these houses were built is the steep thatched roof that was built to withstand the heavy snow during winter. What’s also impressive about how these were built is that it’s sturdy even though no nails were used to built them. For the best view of these farmhouses, walk up to Shiroyama viewpoint where you can get a better view of the entire village.
And the local kitkat in the prefecture.. Red Bean flavor
When it started to get dark, we head back to our accommodations for the night here in Shirakawago. We booked accommodations to stay at a traditional gassho-zukiri house overnight which includes both dinner and breakfast for the next day. That experience in itself deserves a separate post which I’ll continue in my next post! 😀
** Tip: If you can withstand the cold, try going here during winter.. The white snow blanketing the village is a beautiful sight (well.. based on pictures).. plus the place gets lit up at night during winter making for an even more magical sight.