Travel Guide

Shirakawago Guide: A Hidden Gem in Gifu, Japan

/ / Shirakawago Guide: A Hidden Gem in Gifu, Japan
shirakawago gifu japan travel guide

Shirakawago, Japan, is a UNESCO world heritage site and a popular tourist destination. It is a village in the Gifu prefecture of Japan that was built in the 17th century. Over 200 people are living here. Sounds interesting? Let’s explore with SamuraiTrip!

Shirakawago has been preserved as it was during the Edo period, with its buildings made from wood and rice straw. Shirakawago lies amid beautiful forests and mountains. The history of Shirakawago goes back to 1689 when Lord Ii Naotaka ordered the reforestation of the area after a fire.

In this village, you can experience how life was in the Edo period. You can have a chat with locals, try on traditional clothes, participate in an archery workshop. Or just watch people work in their fields!

Shirakawago village

Shirakawago village is known for its snow-covered roofs and wooden structures. A typical example of the arts of the Edo period is the shirakawago, a painting of a landscape on paper or silk.

It has been said that this style originated from Chinese paintings. And could be influenced by Zen Buddhism as well as Shintoism.

shirakawago village and house
Shirakawago Village

In the former days, houses in Shirakawago were built from wood and had a thatched roof. They often have a traditional style, with a front porch and a “kura“, or storehouse, on the side.

The town is home to the Hida Folk Village, which is where you can learn about the traditional way of life in rural Japan. There are also many hot springs around the area that are perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring.

Shirakawago village has been called “a perfect example of a traditional townscape from Japan’s feudal era”. The buildings are made from wood. They are all built on raised ground with their entrances facing south to avoid snow accumulating on them during winter.

Shirakawago winter

Winter in Shirakawago is the most popular season as it is known for snow-covered roofs. This village has a long history and is famous for its beautiful winter scenery.

shirakawago winter season iin japan
Winter in Shirakawago

The word “Shirakawa” in Japanese means “white river” and “go” means village. The location of this village is in the valley of the Akaishi Mountains, which are covered with snow from November to March every year. The villagers have been living here for about 1,000 years and developed their own unique culture over time.

During the winter time from November to March, this village is known for its snow and ice sculptures that are created by locals and visitors during the winter season.

Autumn in Shirakawago

Shirakawago appeals to many people in Japan not only in the winter but also during the autumn. . The town is famous for its autumn colors that change every year. It attracts many visitors during this period to enjoy the scenery and take photos.

The trees take on shades of red and gold from around the beginning of October until the end of October. Then, it is getting closer to the winter beauty.

What to do in this village?

The best way to explore Shirakawago is by bike or on foot. You can take a guided tour or just wander around and explore on your own. There are plenty of things to see in the area. You are not going to get bored even if you don’t have a tour guide.

There are also some really delicious restaurants in the town. Make sure you get something tasty for dinner!

How to get to Shirakawago

Getting to Shirakawago is not an easy task for first timers. There are two ways to get there. The first one is taking a bus from Takayama station which will take you about 3 hours. The second one is taking the Takayama-Hokuriku Shinkansen which takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

From Tokyo, you can take a train to Takasaki Station and then get on the JR Iiyama Line for Shirakawago Station. You can also get to Shirakawago by taking a bus from Shinjuku Bus Terminal.

To get to Shirakawago from Osaka, you can either take the train or go by bus.

This little village is a hidden gem in Japan and you must plan for a visit once in your life! Seriously! Another town that is also interesting is Enoshima (click to explore). Enoshima is popular for a one-day trip destination from Tokyo. Hope this article brings more precious moments in Japan to you!

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