Shirakawago – The Switzerland of Japan

The day in Kanazawa was nice. But what I was really looking forward to on my little trip was Shirakawa-go, a little village in the Japanese alps. Because the UNESCO heritage village is not that easy to reach, I didn’t expect that I will come here during my time in Japan. But I took the chance and made the effort to spend a few hours in this special place. And I am totally happy that I did!

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My alarm rang pretty early in the morning. After checking out from the hostel, I took the bus to Kanazawa station. In order to reach Shirakawa-go, you have to take a bus. I booked my bus tickets already a few days earlier. The bus ride took around 1,5 hours and was very convenient and comfortable. At 9:30 am I arrived in the little village. The weather was amazing! I was just so extremely happy when I stepped out of the bus and saw all these little houses, the beautiful nature and the sun. I felt like I would be somewhere in Switzerland, but definitely not in Japan!

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From another bus stop nearby I took the shuttle up to the observation deck. The ride took around 10 minutes and was so worth it. You have a beautiful overview over the whole village, the river and the mountains. I came back down to the village by foot, which I do really recommend.

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In the town itself, there is not that much to do. But just walking through the town is incredible. I couldn’t stop making pictures. All these houses, which are by the way traditional Japanese farmer houses, looked so cute and original. There are everywhere some other little details to discover. It just felt so good to see something completely different than the past months. Nowadays these houses are used as souvenir shops, cafés, ice cream shops or museums. You have also the possibility to just take a break and relax in them.

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At the river I came to a huge bridge, which I crossed. From there I walked to the open-air museum. I literally was the only one there, which I really enjoyed. It was an amazing place and definitely worth the entrance fee. I had a look inside of the different house types, but I preferred to just walk around. There was a little waterfall, beautiful flowers and even a shrine.

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From there I made my way back, stopped in some souvenir shops to have a look and ate a snack while making a break. Last but not least I visited the famous Wada house. Inside you get a very good impression of how the farmer life looked like in the past. But I didn’t have so much time left until my next bus departed. Therefore, I walked back to the bus stop and came right on time for my ride to Takayama. It was already 12:10! The time went by very quickly, because I enjoyed it so much. Nevertheless, I saw everything that I had in mind. It was a perfect timing.

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When I arrived in Takayama, I first made my way to the river and the old town. Takayama is a very traditional, small Japanese town. Right now, it is not extremely common for tourists to visit Takayama, but I feel like it’s getting more and more popular. The red bridge at the river is one of the sights, Takayama is known for. But wandering around the old town is definitely the nicest thing you can do here. There are many little traditional shops, as well as sake breweries and restaurants. It was nice, but just similar to what I have seen already.

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Because there isn’t that much else to do in Takayama, I decided to just walk around town. I went by Jinya Shrine, a supermarket and ended up sitting at the river, eating lunch and listening to music. Around 2:40pm I made my way back to Takayama station. I didn’t know that Takayama is located so inconvenient. There wasn’t a train going straight to Kyoto. Therefore, I needed to take another bus for 2,5 hours to Nagoya and from there the Shinkansen around 30-40 minutes to Kyoto station. Puuh! It was just food that I had WIFI in the bus. Therefore, I skyped with my mum, watched some videos and chatted with my friends. Nevertheless, 2,5 hours are quite a lot, considering that I already had a few bus rides earlier on. I thought I could arrive in Kyoto around 6pm, but no way! That was a dream I wished to come true.

Before Nagoya, there was quite a traffic jam. Therefore, it took more than 3 hours to arrive there. Therefore, I took the Shinkansen to Kyoto after 6pm. When I arrived, I went to the bigger supermarket before heading home. It was already quite late, but I don’t regret anything. Even though I wasn’t impressed by Kanazawa or Takayama, Shirakawago is definitely worth a visit! One of the most special places I’ve been to in Japan!

 

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