Exploring Takayama and Shirakawago!
During a recent trip to Japan, we took a day trip to Takayama and Shirakawago from Nagoya. It was a great experience indeed and we enjoyed the two areas a lot. These are good places to consider if you’re going to Japan in winter.
Takayama is accessible from Nagoya through JR express trains (150 minutes, 6000 yen)and JR local trains (4 hours including at least 1 transfer, 3350 yen) or highway buses (2.5 hours, 2980 yen). Shirakawago is then connected to Takayama by hourly buses that take about 50 minutes per trip and cost 2470 yen per trip.
If that sounds like too much coordination and hassle for you, you can join a one day tour on klook or kkday. We paid about S$98 each (inclusive of transport from Nagoya bus station and lunch) and it was worth it because it took away all the planning plus we got to travel in comfort as well.
Takayama Old Town
Even though it clearly states that the English speaking tour guide only gives instructions and directions, the English speaking tour guide was very friendly and told us if we have questions about the place we can ask her. There were brochures given with information of the location in English as well. We were also given a map and it was explained to us before we arrived at the destination.
On the bus, we were shown a video on Takayama for us to know what to expect and the history of the area so we would know what to expect when we arrived. When we arrived, the tour guides took us to the main old street and we went on our way from there.
Along the old street, there is a lot of food. We ate our way through the street before exploring the other parts of the old town.
Takayama is famous for Hida beef and the main places with queues along the old street are the places that sell Hida Beef sushi. We didn’t want to queue for those so we settled for Hida Beef Bun which was good too!
Opposite the Hida Beef Bun shop is a daifuku shop and their strawberry daifuku was cool and refreshing, making it a nice dessert to have as well.
As miso is also a signature product of the area, there’s also a miso shop where we had unforgettable miso soup. They give out free samples and we enjoyed the free miso soup so much the other miso soups we had paled in comparison during the rest of our trip.
There are also souvenir shops along the street where you can buy locally made crafts or limited edition souvenirs as well. I fell in love with this wooden sloth and got it immediately.
There’s a morning market and a river near the old street as well. The morning market is only open till 12. They generally sell fruits and vegetables, with some stalls selling souvenirs too.
The nearby river had nice views and was a good place for photos as well.
We had about 1.5 hours to explore Takayama Old Town in total and it was a comfortable amount of time. We headed back to the bus for lunch after that!
Lunch at Takayama Green Hotel
This place was less than a 10 minute drive away from the old town and we got to have an international buffet lunch here.
There was a good spread of both local and international food items. We had a hearty lunch indeed.
The pizzas really stood out and they’re made and baked in this restaurant!
We were given the map of Shirakawago along with some information brochures on our way there. Our tour guide said we were extremely lucky because it snowed the day before and so the village would look a lot nicer when we arrive.
Indeed, we arrived to snow covered houses and trees which made such a beautiful sight!
Shirakawago is famous for its gassho-zukuri houses with sloping roofs. They look simple and cute on the outside but they’re actually quite complex on the inside. The roofs are built without the use of nails!
This is a great place for photos and you’ll see tourists taking pictures with the scarecrows too. The scarecrows are so cute.
Our tour includes a free visit to one gassho-zukuri house and we wanted to visit the Kanda House because they give free grass tea #priorities (or #prioriteas). We walked a whole round to find it and it turned out it was just behind the scarecrow house. At least the views were good!
Took this photo from the top floor of the house and the views were amazing! This is my favourite photo from Shirakawago.
Apart from the views, the houses show you the interior of the houses, how they are built and their livelihoods as well. They make quite a lot of straw products here. Some straw products are sold at their souvenir stores as well.
The whole village is very photogenic and peaceful, making it a nice place to explore. I felt that 80 minutes for this place was just right because we only went to 1 gassho-zukuri house. If you’re interested in going to multiple houses, you might want to consider coming on your own or staying over in a ryokan here.
Overall, I thought the tour was very well paced and the guides were very helpful. We had enough information for the day and everything was convenient as well. I especially enjoyed Shirakawago and would highly recommend this place if you’re considering central Japan as a travel destination.