I once saw a picture of Shirakawa-go on the internet and I was mesmerized. I told myself that someday I will go there. I didn’t actually believe this since I researched the logistics and it is very far from either Osaka or Kyoto where most budget flights usually are from Manila. Then Cebu Pacific opened its Nagoya route and that made it a bit closer. We actually just bought the Nagoya tickets since I’ve never been there. I didn’t book it with Shirakawa-go in mind. It was just like the stars lined in our favor to see this beautiful place in winter in its full glory. So, I’m a firm believer of making goals in your head or dreaming and putting it out there to claim someday. It also takes some work and planning but it does happen. :)
This trip was a bit expensive but it’s a once in a lifetime thing. We paid 4000 yen each for the half day tour from Takayama through J Hoppers. My cousin emailed them a few days before and reserved 3 seats for us. Our meeting place at Takayama is close to the JR station, right in front of a hotel. Our guide was really nice. She gave us a map and instructions along the way. The above picture is the parking lot. There’s that big gassho house with public toilets.
Shirakawa-go is a world heritage site. This village is famous for the gassho zukuri houses. According to Wikipedia, “The Gasshō-zukuri, “prayer-hands construction” style is characterized by a thatched and steeply slanting roof resembling two hands joined in prayer. The design is exceptionally strong and, in combination with the unique properties of the thatching, allow the houses to withstand and shed the weight of the region’s heavy snowfalls in winter”.
We decided to head to the viewing deck first so we went to the shuttle stop and waited for the bus. It costs 200 yen per way. This is the schedule of the sightseeing shuttle bus. It takes you up the hill.
It’s a short ride up the hill. Then you line up to go to the viewing deck. Someone actually takes your picture there and you can buy it on your way down. They also take a picture with your camera or device. The Japanese are really good with snow characters.
The view was really spectacular. There’s also a souvenir shop there. I bought a Sarubobo amulet here which is known in Gifu perfecture. They are traditionally red but I got the pink one for love. Haha.
The houses are so pretty. They also have winter illuminations at night. I wish we could have stayed a night in one of the houses here to see it at night.
I loved Shirakawa-go. I’m glad that I actually had the chance to see it. We spent about 2 urs here which is enough time for a small village. The bus ride is about an hour each way. We were back at Takayama and had enough time to catch our bus. I think we scheduled the 5:30 one so we were kind of nervous that we might not catch it. We told our guide about it and she was really accommodating and assured us that we’ll get back in time.