Shirakawa-go, A Fairy Tale Village


After Santorini, specific place that I really wanted to visit is Shirakawa-go. A beautiful village with unique houses covered by white snow has been in my dream for years. Even though I have visited Japan several times, my schedule were always tight with meetings. But this year, I found a chance to go and I finally made it!

When I was in Osaka, actually I tried to go to Shirakawa-go via Kanazawa. With my colleagues, we traveled to Kanazawa by Thunderbird express train in 2.5 hours. The plan was, we transit in Kanazawa then continue the trip by Nohi bus to Shirakawa-go. Unfortunately the ticket was sold out so we didn’t have any choices other than staying for 1 night in Shirakawa-go. That’s not an option for us because we would have business meeting in Odawara in the following day. So we canceled the trip and decided to explore Kanazawa instead. I’ll tell you the story in the next post.

Originally, on the last day in Japan I planned to visit Kamakura. But one day before, I checked the weather forecast on my phone then suddenly Shirakawa-go appeared and it said there’s snow rain in Shirakawa-go. It’s a sign, right? RIGHT?  😊 I suddenly decided to cancel Kamakura trip and booked Shinkansen ticket to Kanazawa instead. I wanted to go to Shirakawa-go.

Learning from previous experience, I tried to reserve Nohi bus ticket one day before. Actually I worried that the ticketing staff could not speak English well, but I kept trying. Lucky me, the staff was speaking English clearly. But unlucky me, the ticket on the schedule I wanted was not available. But that’s okay. After discussing with the staff (she’s really nice and gave me enough information and suggestion), I booked the ticket for the next schedule, even though I have to wait almost 3 hours in Kanazawa station and had only 2 hours in Shirakawa-go. I was ready to go.

I took ‘early’ morning Shinkansen (Kagayaki) from Tokyo station (7.20 am) and arrived in Kanazawa at 9.51 am. Then I had to wait until 12:40 pm for Nohi bus to Shirakawa-go. I had 2 hours in Shirakawa-go before back to Kanazawa ad arrived at 17:20 pm. Shinkansen would be departed at 18:51 and arrived in Tokyo at 21:19. Shinkansen ticket price was 14,680 JPY for roundtrip but it was free for me because I used JR Pass. Nohi bus ticket price was 3,290 JPY for roundtrip. All set!

The trip from Kanazawa to Shirakawa was enjoyable trip. The bus was cozy and nice, the scenery along the way was amazing. When I arrived in Shirakawa bus station, the snow rain has stopped, but the snow was still stretching almost the entire village. I almost cried when standing in front of the gate and finally saw my dream right in front of me. Another dream came true.

I didn’t have much time, so I started to explore the village. I walked along the main street, then I went through the small path to see the houses. This village is surrounded by mountain and well-known for their houses constructed in the architectural style known as “gasshō-zukuri” or “prayer-hands construction”. This style is characterized by a thatched and steeply slanting roof resembling two hands joined in prayer. Shirakawa-go was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Actually there’s some houses that’s opened for observation (like museum) and we can also enjoy Shirakawa-go village scenery from observation spot on the mountain (Shiroyama Tenshukaku Tenbodai). But again, I didn’t have much time, so I just explored the village and took some photos of that beautiful village.

And guess what, I found the best ice cream in the world there. It’s called Cremia soft cream. While normal ice cream cones are the wafer cones, the Cremia’s cones are actually made from cookies twisted into a cone shape. It was soooo good. You can buy its heavenly taste for only 500 JPY.

2 hours was absolutely not enough. I will come back again and staying there one day. In winter! They said it looks like fairy tale in Shirakawa-go when the village is covered in snow. One day…one day…

Notes:

1. To check Shinkansen schedule I usually use www.hyperdia.com

2. To make Nohi bus reservation I called +81577321688. Check the timetable here

3. For Kagayaki Shinkansen seat reservation is mandatory, so we need to make reservation in ticket counter even though we use JR Pass.

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