Things You Must Do in Shirakawa-go

Things You Must Do in Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan. It is regarded as the most picturesque fairy tale town in all of Japan, and it has four distinct seasons and landscapes in addition to maintaining its traditional rural lifestyle and peaceful pastoral setting.

The most notable aspect is the local Gassho architecture, which is characterized by enormous thatched roofs with herringbone-shaped slopes to both sides, which resemble people’s palms when they pray. Just rope ties or adhesive wood is used to construct the frame of a house this high; no nails are used at all.

Here are some things to take note of when visiting

Seasonal Changes

Shirakawa-go is beautiful all year round, but the scenery changes dramatically depending on the season. Spring brings cherry blossoms, summer is lush and green, autumn brings stunning fall foliage, and winter is when the famous gassho-zukuri (thatched roof) houses are covered in snow.

Gassho-zukuri Houses

The traditional houses in Shirakawa-go are unique in their thatched roof construction, which resembles two hands in prayer. These houses are over 250 years old and offer a glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Local Cuisine

Don’t forget to try the local delicacies when visiting Shirakawa-go. The most famous dish is called “hoba miso,” which is a mixture of miso paste, vegetables, and meat cooked on a dried magnolia leaf.

Respect Local Culture

When visiting Shirakawa-go, it is important to respect the local culture and traditions. Be mindful of noise levels, dress appropriately, and follow local customs.


Shirakawa-go is located in a remote area and can be difficult to access. The most convenient way to get there is by bus from Takayama or Kanazawa. It’s also possible to drive but be prepared for narrow, winding roads.

Here are the steps to get there:

  • Take a JR Hokuriku Shinkansen train from Kanazawa Station to JR Toyama Station. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes and costs around 3,000 yen.
  • At JR Toyama Station, transfer to a Nohi Bus bound for Shirakawa-go. The journey takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes and costs around 1,800 yen.
  • Another choice is to get to Shirakawa-go from Kanazawa station by bus straightaway. Each day, Nohi Bus provides a variety of direct routes. The journey takes around an hour and twenty-five minutes, and it costs about 1,850 yen.

Please note that bus schedules and fares may vary depending on the season and day of the week, so it’s best to check with the transportation companies for the latest information.


There are a few traditional inns in Shirakawa-go that offer a unique and authentic experience. However, these accommodations can be quite expensive and should be booked in advance.

Here are some recommendations for places to stay in Shirakawa-go:

Minshuku Fujinoya

Only a short stroll from the bus stop, this well-liked family-run inn is situated in the center of the community. It provides comfortable accommodations with futon mattresses, tatami flooring, and communal facilities.

Shirakawago Terrace

This is a newer hotel on a hill overlooking the village with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The rooms are large and modern, with private bathrooms and some with hot spring baths outside.


This is a historic ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) located in the nearby town of Takayama, but offering a shuttle service to Shirakawa-go. The ryokan has a long history dating back to the Edo period and offers beautiful traditional rooms with futon beds and private hot spring baths.

Guesthouse Ant Hut

This comfortable guesthouse in the nearby town of Ogimachi offers simple rooms with shared bathrooms. It’s an excellent low-cost option for visitors who want to experience Shirakawa-traditional go’s charm without breaking the bank.


A typical gassho-style home that has been turned into a lodging facility. With rooms sporting conventional thatched roofs, wooden beams, and vintage furnishings, it provides a distinctive and authentic experience.


In addition to admiring the scenery and traditional architecture, there are also several activities to enjoy in Shirakawa-go. These include taking a boat ride on the Sho River, hiking in the surrounding mountains, and attending local festivals.


The weather in Shirakawa-go can be unpredictable, especially in the winter when heavy snowfall is common. Be sure to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.


Shirakawa-go can get very crowded, especially during peak season. Try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds.


Finally, don’t forget to bring your camera! Shirakawa-go is a photographer’s dream, with stunning views and unique architecture at every turn.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time do you need to spend at Shirakawa-go?

Depending on your interests, you may need to spend more or less time in Shirakawa-go, but most people spend about two to three hours wandering around the hamlet. This should give you ample time to explore the neighborhood, stop by a few homes, and discover its history and culture.

Why is Shirakawa-go Famous?

Shirakawa-go is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Gifu prefecture of Japan. The village is known for its unique architecture, which features traditional thatched-roof houses that are over 250 years old.

Is there an entrance fee to Shirakawa-go?

There is no entrance fee to enter the Shirakawa-go village. However, some of the museums and other attractions within the village may charge admission fees.

What is the best time to visit Shirakawa-go?

The best time to visit Shirakawa-go is in the winter months (December to February) when the thatched roofs are covered in snow, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. However, keep in mind that the winter months can be very cold and snowy, so make sure to dress appropriately and be prepared for winter weather conditions.

Alternatively, the autumn months (September to November) can also be a great time to visit, as the leaves change color and the surrounding mountains are ablaze with vibrant hues. The spring and summer months are also beautiful but can be crowded with tourists.