Shirakawa-go, home to cute little farmhouses which roofs are built without nails, was charming.
We took the first bus from Takayama (7.20am) and reached the town in about an hour with the place almost entirely to ourselves. Taking advantage of the clear grounds before other tourists started pouring in, WJ and I went straight to the Outdoor Museum Gassho Folk Museum as soon as it opened at 8.40am.
We were the first ones in.
It was fun walking around the open air museum, which is essentially a mini town with the famed Gassho style houses. You can pretend you’re a local in the past, enjoying the simple farming lifestyle.
Then the raindrops fell.
We hurried to find shelter outside the museum, and went into the first restaurant we saw. Thank goodness they had a heater inside because we were freezing! We chose a seat right next to the much-welcomed heater and ordered some soba and rice.
You know how people always say Japanese are super friendly? Well, we met our first grumpy shopkeeper at the restaurant. The food was not bad though.
By this time, other tourists had long infiltrated Shirakawa-go and we crossed the crowded bridge to explore the other parts of the town. Luckily, only the bridge was heavy with people. Once we crossed it, there were pockets of empty areas.
WJ and I trekked up the hill to get a bird’s eye view of the town. We panted. It’s been a while since either of us got any exercise, so we got tired easily. Don’t judge.
The view was terrific! We could see the entire town and the trains a little way across. The autumn colours helped make the view even better, but the cold… Wow. Being higher up really has a difference in the temperature. If I was freezing in the town below, up here I was shivering. If not for the trek up the hill, I’d probably have frozen into an ice statue.
We spent half a day in Shirakawa-go exploring the area and taking plenty of photos. Granted, the houses all start to look the same after awhile, but I really like the style of the huts and the autumn colours (although fading) complimented them. I would love to see the town in winter though. Snow on the roofs and everywhere would be so magical!
WJ’s friend stayed there previously and commented that there wasn’t anything to do or see when he stayed over in Shirakawa-go. But I wouldn’t have minded spending a night here. It seems so peaceful and I can only imagine what a simple lifestyle the locals staying here have.
And wouldn’t I like that.