Thursday, July 28, 2016



2 June 2016

Shirakawa-go means white river village. It is a mountain village that is surrounded by mountains in the Gifu Prefecture. It is a Unesco World Heritage site, acknowledged for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. As mentioned in the Takayama post, Gassho-zukuri means hands in prayer, as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble hands pressing together in prayer. We took the J Hoppers half day tour (morning session from 8am to 12pm) to Shirakawa-go, which cost JPY 4400 per person. We booked online through their website and made the payment in cash on the bus. Shirakawa-go is about 1 hour away from Takayama.

Our guide Yamamoto was a bubbly person, giving some information on Shirakawa-go and Takayama; and some basic Japanese language lesson.  According to Yamamoto, the population of Shirakawa-go are mostly elderly people. There is only a primary school in Shirakawa-go, the nearest secondary school is in Takayama, so the students will have to travel 2 hours daily to school. There is no university in Takayama, so most of the graduates would leave Takayama and Shirakawa-go to find jobs outside, hence only the elderly remained.

our guide Yamamoto

It is a peaceful little village. Visitors are greeted by Shokawa river at the entrance and would have to cross the suspension bridge. The village is so small, you could just walk to cover the whole area. We were given 1.5 hours to walk around the village. Yamamoto recommended us to visit the Kanda house (entrance fee JPY 300) to experience a Ghasso-zukuri farmhouse and treated to a cup of hot matcha. Since we already visited the Folk Village in Takayama the day before, we skipped entering Kanda house. It was already a full house anyway.

Shirakawa-go from the view point

Map of Shirakawago (source: official site)

suspension bridge

shokawa river

The villagers of Shirakawa-go mainly are farmers, cultivating their land with paddy and vegetables. The drains around the houses are so clean, they rear fishes in them. The stream is so cool, they refrigerate their drinks in the stream water.

ghasso-zukuri houses

Kanda house

fishes in the drain

natural fridge

Shirakawa-go manhole cover

Shirakawa-go peak season is during winter where visitors get to see the ghasso-zukuri roofs covered in snow, with the climax in January and February with the winter illumination. But be warned, it would be freezing cold!

Later, back at Takayama, we had a sumptuous early dinner at Heianraku, a small home styled cooking restaurant (sits 12 people). We chose the vegetarian dishes of tofu teriyaki (JPY 850) and yaki miso (JPY 850). The restaurant owner who is also the cook and waitress- Naoko was really warm and friendly, chatting with us and ensuring we had a great meal. She provided us with some appetizers and cookies as well to finish off our meal. Such a nice little eatery.



our table
appetizer. notice the hello kitty chopstick holder


tofu teriyaki
yaki miso

We savoured our last day of serenity at the village of Shirakawa-go and Takayama before making our way back to the busy metropolis of Tokyo tomorrow.



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