Shirakawa-go (白川郷) and nearby Gokayama (五箇山) are secluded World Heritage villages known for their vernacular farmhouse-style houses called Gassho-Zukuri. These unique buildings have their style to withstand the heavy snow in the winter. Definitely a place to bring the camera.
Budget travel tips
- If coming from Osaka or Nagoya, the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass is a great way to save on transportation costs.
- Free Wi-fi has also been introduced, so ask at the tourist information centers for information.
Things to do
The main, and most popular, town in the region. Pick up a map from the Shirakawago Tourist Office outside the Shirakawa-go bus stop.
Enjoy a walk around some of the 114 Gassho-Zukuri houses around town. Highlights include the Nagase House (長瀬家), Wada House (和田家) and Kanda House (神田家). Get a view over them from the Shiroyama Viewpoint, a 15 minute walk from the visitor center.
Price: Adults 300 yen, Children 150 per house
Gassho Folk Outdoor Museum (野外博物館)
Superb open-air museum with houses moved from more remote and inaccessible areas for your pleasure. A different way to see how Japanese people lived in by-gone years.
Open: 8:40-17:00(From March to November), 9:00-16:00(From December to February)
Closed: Every Thursday (the day before if a public holiday falls on Thursday)
Price: Adults 500 yen, Children 300 yen
Myozenji Temple (明善寺郷土館)
This thatched roofed (as you would expect here!) temple is very different from any other we have seen. Built about 230 years ago and still in use today.
Open: 8:30-17:00 (From April to November),9:00-16:00(From December to March)
Price: Adults 300 yen, Children 100 yen
Ainokura Gassho-zukuri Village (相倉)
The most remote village in the World Heritage area, Ainokura has around 20 Gassho-Zukuri houses. It is less touristy and more authentic than the other villages due to its distance. Take the bus to Ainokura-guchi from Shirakawa-go (45 mins).
Suganuma Gassho-zukuri Village (相倉)
Suganuma is an easy village to explore on foot, as everything is a short walk away. The farmhouses have been well maintained, with some interesting people watching of the locals to enjoy. Take the bus to Suganuma from Shirakawa-go (30 mins).
How to get there
There are several buses a day, some of which also go to/from Gokayama as well as Shirakawa-go. Reservations for some buses are required.
Recommended hostels and hotels
Nice little guesthouse in the town center. The only real budget option. Check prices at Booking.com.