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Gifu Prefecture – March Trip to Hida Takayama and Shirakawa-go [Day 1]

Writer : kosu

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.

Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal
Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal

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.

OPEN

Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal

Access
2 minutes on foot from JR East Travel Service Center at “Shinjuku Station”
WEB
URL(English)
Shinjuku Station South Exit
Shinjuku Station South Exit
Ticket Counter
Ticket Counter
Leaving First Thing in the Morning!
Leaving First Thing in the Morning!

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.

Nagano Prefecture, Lake Suwa Service Area
Nagano Prefecture, Lake Suwa Service Area

There are 2 stops along the way to Takayama.
The first stop was a 10-minute break at the Lake Suwa Service Area.

Gifu Prefecture, Hirayu Onsen
Gifu Prefecture, Hirayu Onsen

The mid-way stop was a 10-minute break at Hirayu Onsen in Gifu Prefecture.

Takayama Nohi Bus Center
Takayama Nohi Bus Center

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.

Shirakawa-go Bus Terminal
Shirakawa-go Bus Terminal

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.

Exploring Hagimachi

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.

Restaurant “Irori”
Restaurant “Irori”
Main Street
Main Street

The main street is packed with souvenir shops and more.

Lodging “Kidoya”
Lodging “Kidoya”

I’ll be staying at “Kidoya” this night.
I stopped off to drop off my luggage, then continued on with my walk.

OPEN

Kidoya

Address
590 Ogimachi, Onogun Shirakawamura, Gifu[MAP]
Access
10 minutes on foot from Shirakawa-go Bus Terminal
Tel
05769-6-1077
Check-in
3 pm
Check-out
9 am

Find a Booking Site for Gassho-zukuri Lodging Here

URL(English)

Hida Beef Kushiyaki (Skewers), etc.
Hida Beef Kushiyaki (Skewers), etc.

I hadn’t had any lunch yet, so I had Hida beef kushiyaki and other items while I walked around.

Great Weather
Great Weather

There was a lovely contrast between the far-off mountains, the blue sky, and the snow.

Looking at Shirakawa-go from the Observation Deck

Taking the Shuttle Bus to the Observation Deck
Taking the Shuttle Bus to the Observation Deck
OPEN

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.
Fee
One way 200 yen

There are 2 observation decks.
I first went to the “Tenshukaku Outdoor Observation Deck” after getting off the shuttle bus.

View from Tenshukaku Outdoor Observation Deck
View from Tenshukaku Outdoor Observation Deck
View from Tenshukaku Outdoor Observation Deck
View from Tenshukaku Outdoor Observation Deck

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.

View from Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck
View from Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck

This photo is from a slightly different angle than the previous one.

The snowy scenery was beautiful.
The snowy scenery was beautiful.

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.

National Important Cultural Property – Wada House
National Important Cultural Property – Wada House
Kanda House
Kanda House
Nagase House
Nagase House

Snap of Higashi-Dori

Lodging “Furusato”
Lodging “Furusato”
Scarecrows
Scarecrows
Shops Selling Things Like Dango and Ice Cream
Shops Selling Things Like Dango and Ice Cream
Near Myozenji Temple
Near Myozenji Temple
Bell Tower Gate
Bell Tower Gate

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.

A Grouping of 3 Gassho-zukuri
A Grouping of 3 Gassho-zukuri

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!

Close-Up of Grouping of 3 Gassho-zukuri
Close-Up of Grouping of 3 Gassho-zukuri
Side View of Grouping of 3 Gassho-zukuri
Side View of Grouping of 3 Gassho-zukuri
Shirakawa Hachimangu
Shirakawa Hachimangu
Kidoya
Kidoya

I returned to “Kidoya,” my lodging, for the night.

This was my room for the night.
This was my room for the night.

I took a short break, then went for a quick walk before dinner.

Night View of Shirakawa-go

Eastern Street
Eastern Street
Lovely Reflection on the Water’s Surface
Lovely Reflection on the Water’s Surface
Wada House
Wada House
Main Street
Main Street

The stores started to close after 17:00, so the number of people hanging around went down too.

Myozenji Temple
Myozenji Temple

Dinner at Kidoya

This was my dinner for the night.
It was a traditional Japanese meal made with local ingredients.

Freshwater Fish
Freshwater Fish
Cooked Mountain Vegetables
Cooked Mountain Vegetables
Tofu
Tofu
Tempura
Tempura
Hida Beef Toban-yaki (Ceramic Grilling)
Hida Beef Toban-yaki (Ceramic Grilling)

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.

On the left is the lodging “Furusato,” while on the right is my lodging for the night “Kidoya.”
On the left is the lodging “Furusato,” while on the right is my lodging for the night “Kidoya.”
First I took a stroll around “Kanmachi” on the south side.
First I took a stroll around “Kanmachi” on the south side.
Lodging “Nodaniya”
Lodging “Nodaniya”

When I looked up, the sky was full of beautiful stars.

Beautiful Stars
Beautiful Stars
The three gassho-zukuri.
The three gassho-zukuri.

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

Shirakawa-go no Yu
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.

OPEN

Shirakawa-go no Yu

Address
337 Ogimachi, Onogun Shirakawamura, Gifu[MAP]
Tel
05769-6-0026
Business Hours
7:00 am - 9:30 pm (Last admission 9:00 pm)
Admission
Adults 700 yen, elementary school students 300 yen, children 6 and under free
WEB
URL(Japanese)

The next article in this series will introduce Shirakawa-go in the morning on my 2nd day, as well as my walk through Takayama.