Japan Travel Diary : Takayama to Shirakawa-Go

11:36 PM

Shirakawa-go (白川郷, “White River Old-District”) is located in Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture. What makes this village special is not only because it's beautiful but the fact that it is “an outstanding examples of the traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people’s social and economic circumstances.” This majestic and photogenic village has been on my “to go list” since 2 years ago and got a chance to finally visit it last January.

Before going to Shirakawa-Go we had a quick 2 days stopover in Takayama (高山). This pretty little town is also earned the title of being Japan's "Little Kyoto" because of its well-preserved quarter with Edo-style streets. Had a chance strolling around Takayama Old Town and took a picture in the iconic Nakabashi Bridge. The bridge itself is colored in red and thus easily spotted. Don't forget to try the famous Hida Beef. I have no restaurant recommendation since almost every restaurant offers the famous dish.

Takayama (高山)
strolling around Takayama Old Town

The iconic Nakabashi Bridge

Shirakawa-go (白川郷)
Took approximately 50 minutes from Takayama – Shirakawa-go with Nouhi Bus (details below) and stayed there for 4 hours. It was raining quite hard when we were there, some people said it was such a pity since the sky was grey and all gloomy, but I’d personally prefer the dark and gloomy sky, it gave me more the “wintertime” feeling especially the village itself was also charmingly covered by a quite thick layer of snow. Mesmerizing, of course! No wonder it is now recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

Surrounded by triangle-shaped houses which is called Gassho-zukuri (合掌造り) architecture, with the roofs looking like hands pressed in prayer. Gassho (合掌) literally translates to ‘hands together’. These roofs have helped the houses in Shirakawa-go withstand heavy snowfall during winter, it is said that some of them are more than 250 years old!
Though it was only 4° Celsius, I was freezing ‘cause my coat was all wet. My sister and I tried to warm ourselves by buying the Amazake (甘酒). Amazake is a mildly sweet, nourishing beverage made from rice. Amazake literally means sweet sake, but it's not actually sake. It's a thick drink which is traditionally made by allowing a mixture of steamed rice and rice koji. It's naturally sweet and contains almost no alcohol. While my sister enjoyed it, sadly I did not.

Amazake (甘酒)

Shiroyama Viewpoint

triangle-shaped houses
1. Where did I stay in Takayama?
While some travelers prefer to stay at ryokans, I stayed at Country Hotel Takayama, it is located exactly across Takayama Bus Station. 

2. Takayama  to Shirakawa-Go
You can directly buy the ticket from Takayama Nouhi Bus Center or you can book the ticket via Japan Bus Online 1 month in advance for JPY 2,470 one way. Reminder, you have to book it another way since they do not provide the return trip ticket. They will send you a booking confirmation email directly. It is 100% guaranteed! And if you're traveling from Kanazawa, you can also book via Japan Bus Online too. 
2. Shiroyama Viewpoint
Since it was raining I chose not to climb up so I took a shuttle bus for JPY 200 one way to see the whole village, it was stunning! Great spot to get almost bird's eye view of Shirakawa-Go. The shuttle bus runs every 20 minutes and the last bus leaves at 15:40.

It is almost midnight and gotta wake up early tomorrow. I hope everyone can enjoy my writing + pictures! Good good night!

the one who is missing winter,

Shirley Wijaya

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