Gifu Prefecture – March Trip to Hida Takayama and Shirakawa-go [Day 1]
I visited Hida Takayama and Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture in March over 3 days and 2 nights.
The area is great to visit in any season, but I decided to visit while the snow was still around this time.
In this article, I’ll be introducing my day 1 travels from Shinjuku to Shirakawa-go as well as my walk through Shirakawa-go.
Dates of Visit: March 4th-6th, 2017
Traveling by Bus from Shinjuku to Takayama, then to Shirakawa-go
To get from Tokyo to Hida Takayama and Shirakawa-go, I took the express bus from Shinjuku.
You can also get there via connections on the Shinkansen or trains, but the bus trip is cheap, so that’s my recommendation.
The Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal opened in 2016.
By integrating all of the express buses that came and went from Shinjuku, which had all been owned by separate entities before the terminal’s opening, the area’s buses became much easier to understand.
Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal
- 2 minutes on foot from JR East Travel Service Center at “Shinjuku Station”
I got on the bus to Takayama at 7:05 in the morning.
I went from Shinjuku to Takayama by bus. (6,690 yen each way, about 5 hours 30 minutes)
After the bus ride to Takayama, my plan was to take another bus from Takayama to Shirakawa-go. (2,470 yen each way, about 50 minutes)
※Fares and travel times may vary.
There are 2 stops along the way to Takayama.
The first stop was a 10-minute break at the Lake Suwa Service Area.
The mid-way stop was a 10-minute break at Hirayu Onsen in Gifu Prefecture.
We arrived at the Takayama Nohi Bus Center, our destination, a few minutes later than the scheduled 12:35.
This is where I changed to the bus to Shirakawa-go.
The trip from Takayama Nohi Bus Center to Shirakawa-go is about 50 minutes.
I finally arrived at the Shirakawa-go Bus Terminal!
Since the bus terminal is located on the northern end of the main street, I walked south on foot.
What is Shirakawa-go?
Shirakawa Village is located in the snowy northwestern area of Gifu Prefecture.
It was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1995 thanks to its unique architectural style, called gassho-zukuri, and its old-fashioned rural landscape.
There are 114 gassho-zukuri buildings remaining at this site.
Cars not owned by the residents are not allowed in the World Heritage Site area between 9:00 and 16:00.
Most sightseeing here is done on foot.
The main street is packed with souvenir shops and more.
I’ll be staying at “Kidoya” this night.
I stopped off to drop off my luggage, then continued on with my walk.
- 590 Ogimachi, Onogun Shirakawamura, Gifu
- 10 minutes on foot from Shirakawa-go Bus Terminal
- 3 pm
- 9 am
Find a Booking Site for Gassho-zukuri Lodging Here
I hadn’t had any lunch yet, so I had Hida beef kushiyaki and other items while I walked around.
There was a lovely contrast between the far-off mountains, the blue sky, and the snow.
Looking at Shirakawa-go from the Observation Deck
Shuttle Bus to Observation Deck
- Departure/Arrival Location
- In front of restaurant “Hakusuien”
- Travel Time
- 9:00-15:40 – On every hour, 20-minute, and 40-minute mark.
- One way 200 yen
There are 2 observation decks.
I first went to the “Tenshukaku Outdoor Observation Deck” after getting off the shuttle bus.
I regret not bringing my telephoto lens here, which I left in my luggage.
I also took photos at the “Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck” below.
This photo is from a slightly different angle than the previous one.
I finally went back down from the observation deck.
It was only a little bit colder than Tokyo, so I wasn’t too cold.
Wada House, Kanda House, Nagase House
There are also a number of facilities for guests to visit inside of the gassho-zukuri houses.
This article will only introduce the exterior views of these facilities.
Snap of Higashi-Dori
My Favorite Spot, “Deai Bridge”
There is a parking lot for cars and buses near Deai Bridge, so there were a lot of people around.
Snap of Kanmachi
Next I took a stroll through the “Kanmachi area” south of Shirakawa-go’s Ogimachi.
There aren’t many tourists in Kanmachi, so you can relax and enjoy your stroll.
There are three gassho-zukuri buildings lined up together on the southernmost part of Kanmachi.
This is a super-famous photo-op location that’ll show up in any guidebook!
I returned to “Kidoya,” my lodging, for the night.
I took a short break, then went for a quick walk before dinner.
Night View of Shirakawa-go
The stores started to close after 17:00, so the number of people hanging around went down too.
Dinner at Kidoya
This was my dinner for the night.
It was a traditional Japanese meal made with local ingredients.
I had my dinner along with other guests in the dining hall.
There were 4 other guests eating dinner this night.
Night View of Shirakawa-go
I took a nighttime walk after dinner.
Some of the houses were turning on their lights one by one.
When I looked up, the sky was full of beautiful stars.
Two of the three houses had lights on inside. Even with just two lit, it was plenty beautiful.
Clear View of Stars
I left Kancho and headed north on the main street.
The main street, which was packed with people during the day, was quiet at night.
Shirakawa-go no Yu
I kept heading north and arrived at Shirakawa-go no Yu.
This is the only natural hot spring in Shirakawa-go, and it also offers lodging.
I had a bath available back at my lodging, but I got a coupon for here, so this is where I decided to bathe.
There is an inside bath, outdoor bath, and sauna.
Shirakawa-go no Yu
- 337 Ogimachi, Onogun Shirakawamura, Gifu
- Business Hours
- 7:00 am - 9:30 pm (Last admission 9:00 pm)
- Adults 700 yen, elementary school students 300 yen, children 6 and under free
The next article in this series will introduce Shirakawa-go in the morning on my 2nd day, as well as my walk through Takayama.