Winter Experience in Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, Japan

Out of all the places we’ve been during the Japan trip, our winter experience in Shirakawa-go is one of the most unforgettable. Simply because it is beautiful. Shirakawa-go is located in central Japan, in Gifu Prefecture. If you can’t imagine it, think of a fairy tale-like Japanese town enveloped with its own beauty and charm.

It can’t be denied that the best time to visit Shirakawa-go  is during winter. Snow starts to fall late at December and usually ends at March. The weather can possibly go extreme with heavy and thick snowfall, but during the start of snowfall, the white snow kisses the place sweetly. The roofs, trees and fields are covered up with white gentle and powdery snow.

Getting to Shirakawa-go

I tell you that getting to Shirakawa-go in Gifu prefecture from Kyoto prefecture is not so convenient. We rode the Limited Express Thunderbird(Kyoto to Kanazawa), JR Shinkansen (Kanazawa to Toyama) and JR local train(Toyama to Takayama). We stayed overnight at Relax Hotel in Takayama. Then, we rode Nohi Bus from Takayama going to Ogimachi Village in Shirakawa-go.

Actually, we took the long cut. In fact, to save you time and effort, you can just have two rides from Kyoto to Shirakawago (Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago). However, we missed the last bus at Kanazawa going to Shirakawa-go. So, we directly went to Takayama because according to forecast, there’d be a snow fall that night. It was magical.

Winter Experience in Shirakawa-go

What is so special about Shirakawa-go? It’s declared as world heritage site by UNESCO. To belong to this list, it must be of outstanding universal value according to UNESCO. To know more about how to be included in the list, see here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria/

The main attraction in Shirakawa-go is the Ogimachi Village, famous for its traditional Gassho-zukuri farm houses. Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer”. It can be seen in the steeply-sloped roof with 60-degree angle. Guess what? Some of these farm houses are over 250 years old. No doubt why this village is recognized because it’s exceptional.

Another thing that makes this village stand out is the architectural style developed over many generations. The way it was built made the houses withstand extreme weather conditions (large amounts of snow) which falls in Gifu region during the winter season. The roof’s steep slope helps in slipping off the snow and prevents the whole house from crushing. PLUS, the houses were built without NAILS. Yes, it’s true!

If you also notice, the houses are facing the same direction. Do you know why? The generations made it sure that the roofs face east and west to get sunlight as much as possible – to melt the snow on the roof. Very strategic!

Here’s what’s inside the Gassho-zukuri house…

View of Ogimachi Village from Tenshukaku Observatory

To have the best breathtaking view of the village, Tenshukaku Observatory is the best place to go to. It is an excellent point with observatory deck overlooking the Ogimachi village. To get there, you need to hike by foot for about 15 minutes from the main village. Don’t worry. It is an easy trek. Alternatively, you can just take the shuttle bus for ¥200, one way.

Overall, Shirakawa-go is a hidden gem in Gifu Prefecture. If you wish to go to Japan, planning a visit to this historic village is worth it.

Did you like this article? Let littlemisadvencha know in the comment section.

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Amber Myers
Guest

What a pretty spot! I would love to get here one day. That village would be fun to explore.

Cristina Petrini
Guest

Japan undoubtedly offers incredible winter scenarios. I remember during the winter games of distant Napporo that I fell in love with it.

Tara Pittman
Guest

What a nice place to travel to. That is smart to build the houses to get the most sunlight.

Marie Phillips
Guest

That is indeed beautiful! I am not a fan of cold weather, especially as I get older. I can never warm up once I get cold. But it would be awesome to see this in real life. I am sure that pictures don’t even come close to the true beauty that you would see in person.

Chad
Guest

I would looooove to spend a couple of weeks there, the place is super awesome ahhhhh I love it.

Krysten Quiles
Guest

I’m not a fan of winter but it looks absolutely beautiful there, I could totally make an exception. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

Scott Gombar
Guest

It looks very peaceful when it snows there. Not like where I live. Here it looks like chaos within hours of the snow starting.

Dreaming Loud
Guest
Dreaming Loud

This is such a wonderful place..! Thanks for sharing, I hope I can visit here someday.

Ann
Guest

This seems like a real interesting place to visit 🙂

Stephanie S.
Guest

It looks so beautiful! What a beautiful experience. I love snow, and I would love to visit this place.

Nicole
Guest

Wow! What a neat place to go! I would love to travel here one day!

Ntensibe Edgar
Guest

Wow….I love what I am seeing! This is now on my to-go-to list. It’s so beautiful.

Denise @In-Home Medical
Guest

Shirakawago looks like such a scenic place. I would love to spend some time there.

Serene Xi
Guest

I really enjoyed reading about your winter experience in Shirakawa-go. I am planning a trip to Japan and I will use this information to help.

Jessica Collazo
Guest

This place look enchanting. Is a true Winter wonderland. This pictures are just amazing. I hope to go there some day

Nyxie
Guest

Such an awesome place! I love the photos. I would love to go to Japan. It’s one of my bucketlist places!

Dreams Abroad
Guest

Wow so beautiful!!!! Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, Japan is vastly intriguing to me and I plan on a solo trip there very soon. Thank you for this post.

Matt Taylor
Guest
Matt Taylor

Wow, that place looks incredible! A frozen fairytale for sure! Looks like you had an amazing time.

Fransic verso
Guest

My dream is to go to japan one day and live these wonderful places. This place looks beautiful in winter.

Sophia
Guest
Sophia

This looks absolutely amazing. Japan is on my list of places I would love to visit. I hope to go someday.

Fatima Torres
Guest

Oh wow. So you mean to say it’s starting to snow out there now? We’re in the end of January and it’s winter out here.

Cindy Ingalls
Guest

What a lovely village. The whole area is so pretty. Glad you got to have such a unique experience.

the joyous living
Guest

it is silly but i had never realized there was snow in japan. your valley looks so beautiful covered in snow. i would love to visit japan one day. joy

Fatima Torres
Guest

Such a fun place! I’d like to check it out sometime. Worth visiting with the family as well.

Sara | mshealthesteem.com
Guest

Wow this place is gorgeous! Adding to my dream travel list. Thank you for sharing ♡. Your photos are lovely!

katrina Kroeplin
Guest
katrina Kroeplin

i have never been. i would love to go there one day, that would be amazing.

Melanie williams
Guest
Melanie williams

Now this is my kind of place – remote and looks very peaceful too – love your piccys by the way x

Lily
Guest
Lily

Wow the views are amazing. This looks like a trip to remember.

Neha
Guest

That looks like a lovely place! Homes with no nails and homes as old as 250 years old is amazing. I am sure it must have been a great experience.

Joanna
Guest

The view over Ogimachi village from the observatory is so pretty! The entire landscape covered in snow seems magical. What a beautiful place to see in Japan.

Krysten Quiles
Guest

I’m not much of a cold weather person but this does look really amazing. Thanks for sharing your pictures and experiences with us!

Sarah Bailey
Guest

Oh my goodness what an incredible looking place to get to go and explore. I would love to see it for myself, I’m sure it would be eye-opening!

Kam
Guest

This place looks definitely like a winter wonderland. I love the authenticity of the Japanese culture.

Janay@ https://justjournee.com/
Guest

Omg picture perfect is an understatement! This is so beautiful! I’m adding this to my bucket list of places to visit

Erica
Guest

What an interesting visit. This is the kind of place I’d love to explore, if my travels ever take me to Japan.

Alvern Success Unscrambled
Guest

I have never been to Japan but it is definitely one of those places that I would like to visit someday. Shirakawago does look quite magical and I am fascinated with the way they build those houses.

Sophia
Guest
Sophia

OH my goodness it looks so beautiful. I think snow makes everything even more magical.

Tisha
Guest

Beautiful! I don’t typically think of mountains when I think of Japan, but they are beautiful!

Amber Hurley
Guest
Amber Hurley

This looks so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Urvi
Guest

Wow this looks beautiful 😱😱 I love 1st snow of the winter and your pictures reminded me my days in Milwaukee. Japan is in my bucket list.

Fatima Torres
Guest

This seems like a great spot to explore. I’d like to check it out sometime with the family.

Lisa @ Midwest Glam
Guest

Wow what a wonderful experience that must have been. It truly does look beautiful. Loved the photos.