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Introduction to Shirakawago and Gokayama

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Introduction to Shirakawago and Gokayama Introduction to Shirakawago and Gokayama

Introduction to Shirakawago and Gokayama






While they’ve become increasingly popular since we first fell in love with them years ago, the villages of Shirakawago and Gokayama remain among the most photographed places in rural Japan.

Historically, Shirakawago and Gokayama were very difficult to access, and thus quite isolated from the surrounding areas. But in the modern era they’ve been connected via an impressive network of mountain highways and tunnels, making them almost too accessible.

To experience the villages in a meaningful way ? and minimize your encounters with large tour groups and buses ? it’s worth doing a bit of extra planning, and this article is here to help you do just that.

On the other hand, if you’d prefer to travel to parts of Japan where fewer tourists go in the first place, don’t miss our article on Japan?s best off-the-beaten-path places.

Originally written in 2015, this post was updated and republished on March 2, 2021.

When to Visit Shirakawago and Gokayama

If you’ve done a fair amount of research into planning your trip to Japan, chances are you’ve come across photos like the one above.

The UNESCO World Heritage villages of Shirakawago and Gokayama are remarkably photogenic, thanks to their steeply-sloped gassho-zukuri thatched roofs (capable of withstanding heavy snowfall) and beautiful mountain surroundings.

Because of how popular they are, you may want to avoid visiting during Japan’s peak seasons if possible. To help you plan around this, see our full article on the seasons and when to visit Japan.

Generally speaking, you’ll find fewer travelers in winter (when the villages are quite picturesque in the snow) and summer (when Japan as a whole is hot and humid). Spring and fall tend to be more crowded, and this is particularly true around the times of the annual Takayama Matsuri (Festivals), which take place in both seasons. You can read more about this and other festivals here.

All of this being said, the villages are year-round destinations. But no matter when you visit, we recommend arriving as early as possible. Shirakawago and Gokayama are most peaceful in the early morning, and increasingly crowded as the day goes on and tour buses begin to arrive.

Getting to Shirakawago and Gokayama

One thing many travelers don’t initially realize is that Shirakawago and Gokayama are in two different areas, and for most people it makes sense to visit either Shirakawago or Gokayama (rather than both), based on your preference and logistical convenience.

Getting to Shirakawago

Located in Gifu Prefecture (Gifu-ken), Shirakawago is home to Ogimachi, the most visited of the region’s UNESCO villages. Ogimachi’s extreme popularity stems in great part from its utter convenience. The village is located directly en route between the coastal city of Kanazawa and the mountain town of Takayama.

As there is no access by train, our favorite way to get to Shira...
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Introduction to Shirakawago and Gokayama Introduction to Shirakawago and Gokayama

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News source: boutiquejapan
Publication date: 02-03-2021 21:46
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