Shirakawa-go (白川郷) in Gifu prefecture is a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.
Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer," as the farmhouses' thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer.
We originally wanted to visit Shirakawa-go on Christmas and have a "White Christmas," after seeing photos of how beautiful it looks covered in snow. We were really unlucky with the weather, as the week leading up to Christmas was really warm and melted any show that may have accumulated before then. We even pushed back our visit a few days in hopes of it snowing while we were there, but it didn't. :( It was still a great sight to see, though!
Ogimachi (荻町) is Shirakawa-go's biggest and most famous village, where many of the farmhouses serve as minshuku (Japanese style bed and breakfast), that you can stay in overnight. We tried, but were too late in trying to make a reservation, even three months in advance!
If you're planning on visiting, you definitely should settle your travel plans at least a few days in advance because the buses going there get really booked up. We intended on taking a bus from Kanazawa, but we weren't able to secure a reservation, even two days in advance. Luckily, with the JR Pass, we were able to take a shinkansen to Shin-Takaoka, then take a bus from there.
I still really wish it would have snowed for us, but it was still so awesome to be able to visit this place!
The walk to the lookout spot is a bit of a climb, but it's well worth the view overlooking the village! They do illuminations in the peak of winter when the village is covered in snow. Just imagine how beautiful that view would be!
How to get there: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5953.html
Bus Timetables and Fares: http://www.japan-guide.com/bus/shirakawago.html
Bus Reservations: https://japanbusonline.com/CourseSearch/11900040002?afcd=MDI=
Japanese Guest Houses: https://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/ryokan-search-results/?area=Shirakawa-go
Local Tourist Association: http://ml.shirakawa-go.org/en/accommodation/
Shirakawa-go Official Website: http://ml.shirakawa-go.org/en/
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