A Day Trip to Shirakawago – A Complete Guide to Exploring Ogimachi

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Want to discover one of the most picturesque places in Japan? Grab your bags and join us on a day trip to Shirakawago & Gokayama, a picturesque town that will captivate you with its breathtaking scenery and unique traditional architecture.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its distinctive thatched-roof houses, Shirakawago will give you an authentic glimpse of rural Japan. Whether you’re an avid photographer, a culture lover, or just an interested traveler, a Shirakawago day trip should definitely be on your Japan itinerary.

During our visit, we fell in love with this idyllic little village and therefore don’t want to keep this gem in the Japanese Alps from you.

Shirakawago Facts

  • Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995
  • Full of Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses
  • Gassho-Zukuri can be translated to Constructed like “hands in prayer” which leads back to the shape of the roofs that should remind of Buddhist monks’ hands
  • This shape helps to withstand the snow in winter
  • Some of the houses are more than 250 years old
shirakawago day trip japan. wooden houses on meadow, traditional japanese architecture
The village itself is rather quiet and there is a lot of lush greenery. Most people you meet on your way through Shirakawago are visitors themselves.


Where to stay in Shirakawago: Shiroyamakan (an authentic Japanese-style accommodation directly in the village) or Shirakawago Guest House Kei (A popular mid-range/budget option very close to the village)

The most popular activities & tours in Shirakawago

Shirakawago Day Trip from Nagoya

Minshuku Overnight Stay

Private Half Day Tour to Shirakawago (from Kanazawa)

Private Shirakawago & Gokayama Tour (from Kanazawa)

Private Shirakawago & Takayama Tour (from Kanazawa)

Getting there: It’s best to book your flight ticket in advance. For inexpensive airline tickets, check out Skyscanner. 12Go Asia offers bus tickets around Japan.

Japan Must-Have: Japan Travel Guide

Where is Shirakawago

Shirakawago map, japan map
Source: Google Maps

Shirakawago is located in the heart of Japan, nestled in Gifu Prefecture. The small town is located about 75 km from the Japanese city of Kanazawa.

How to get to Shirakawago

Getting to Shirakawago by Bus

Travel from: Kanazawa or Takayama

Journey Duration: approx. 1 hour

Trip Cost: from 18 €/$ 19 (not covered by Japan Rail Pass)

Tickets: on-site or online at 12Go Asia

The bus between the Japanese cities of Kanazawa and Takayama via Toyama is probably the easiest way to reach Shirakwago (it’s about halfway). Buses leave Kanazawa and Takayama several times a day. From both sides, the bus takes about an hour to reach Shirakawago.

For more information check the schedule on this website.

Visiting Shirakawago on a guided tour

Travel from: Kanazawa or Nagoya

Tour Duration: Between 4 – 11 hours depending on the tour

Tour Cost: from 85 €/$ 90

Make a reservation: on-site or online here at GetYourGuide

Those who would like to explore Shirakawago in good company including some interesting background information also have the option of booking a guided day trip. The tours are run daily and depart from Kanazawa or Nagoya. Often they are also available in combination with a visit to the Japanese city of Takayama.

The best travel time for Shirakawago

shirakawago day trip from Kanazawa, wooden houses in ogimachi

Shirakawago is a wonderful day trip destination in every season.

Winter Season

They say that the region and the farmhouses are most beautiful when covered in snow. Drawback: The way to the viewpoint is often closed due to the snow.

Summer Season

It is beautiful to walk around here in the nice summer sun. Drawback: Might be a little bit hot in summer. Many tourists.


At this time, there are probably way fewer tourists walking around. Drawback: Often, the weather is not that good in Low-Season.

rain shirakawago destination in Japan
Even nice to visit in the rain

What to do on a Day Trip to Shirakawago

Wer Shirakawago besucht, sollte wissen, dass es hier soweit keine “Sehenswürdigkeiten zum Abarbeiten” gibt. Vielmehr ist es ein Ort, um herumzulaufen und diese wunderschöne Landschaft auf sich wirken zu lassen. Vergiss auf keinen Fall deine Kamera, denn hier kannst du ein paar fantastische Schnappschüsse schießen.


Ogimachi ist das größte der Dörfer Shirakawagos und der Teil, den die meisten Besucher als “Shirakawago” kennen. Wenn du einen Tagesausflug mitmachst, wirst du höchstwahrscheinlich hierherkommen.

Lauf herum und entdecke auch die verstecktesten Ecken des kleinen Ortes.

Shirakawago Vantage Point (Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck)

shirakawago vantage point, selfie, ogimachi
The view is worth it even in bad weather 🙂

Opening hours vantage point: 24 hours

Entrance fee vantage point: free of charge

Getting there: 15-minute walk, by rental car, or by shuttle bus (leaving every 20 minutes (00 – 20 – 40 – except 12 and 1 pm) from near the bus station for 200 yen (about €1.30/$1.4)).

To appreciate its full charm, you should take a short walk up to the viewpoint of Ogimachi. Because from here, you can admire this picturesque place in all its glory.

I recommend everyone to take the path up to the viewpoint. A view of this little village is definitely worth it, especially in good weather.

The viewpoint is located on an old castle ruin. You can also find a small souvenir store here.

Extra tip: The view from here is worthwhile even in the dark when the houses of the village are illuminated. It is even more beautiful when there is snow.

Wada House

Opening hours Wada House: 09 am – 5 pm (but closed on some days – which days exactly are, unfortunately, changes every now and then)

Opening Hours Wada House: 400 Yen (2,50 €/$ 3)

From the outside, the Gassho Zukuri are simply gorgeous. But wouldn’t it also be interesting to see one from the inside? You’ll get the chance in some of the houses that have opened their interiors for viewing. Probably the most popular of these is the Wada House.

Take off your shoes and walk around to get a better picture of the interior and the life of the residents of Ogimachi.

As you look around the house, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that it’s more than 170 years old.

Extra tip: While it is definitely interesting, especially for those interested in Japan and architecture, to see the inside of one of the gassho-zukuri, I recommend that you visit only one of the houses. They are very similar from the inside.

Extra tip: Other houses you can visit are the Kanda House and the Nagase House.

Staying overnight in Shirakawago

I know the main point of this article is to plan a day trip to the region but bear with me for a second. With an overnight stay, however, you can immerse yourself even further in Japanese culture and the absolute peacefulness of this place, with almost no other visitors.

You can extend your trip overnight in the so-called minshukus. These accommodations are located inside the traditional gassho-zukuri houses and are run by local families. You can imagine it a bit like an overnight stay in a Japanese ryokan – with traditional Japanese furnishings, classic Japanese bathrooms, and delicious Japanese dishes included.

There are nearly 12 minshukus in the area, like this one.

The stay in such a minshuku also includes breakfast and dinner.

Check Shiroyamakan at Booking.com

Gassho-Zukuri Minkaen

gassho-zukuri architecture in Shirakawago

Opening hours Minkaen: Fri – Wed: 08.30 am – 5 pm (may vary in winter); Closed Thursdays.

Entrance Fee Minkaen: 600 Yen (4 €/$ 4.3)

To reach this area of Gassho-Zukuri houses, you must first cross the bridge from the parking lot. In this area, you can admire several of these beautiful houses. The open-air museum offers an interesting insight into the life and history of this village.

Shirakawago Doburoku Matsuri Festival

Like many other popular places in Japan, Shirakawago has its own matsuri, a traditional Japanese festival. The Shirakawago Doburoku Matsuri takes place every October and attracts visitors from all over the region.

During the festival, thanks are given to the mountain gods for the good harvest. This gratitude is expressed through processions and a parade. So if you happen to be around in October, this is the perfect time to visit Shirakawago.

A little insight into Shirakawago’s history

Due to heavy snowfalls, this part of the Japanese Alps was once isolated from the rest of Japan for a long period of the year. The inhabitants of this area, therefore, had to find their own way during this time. And as you can still see today, they managed it perfectly.

The architecture of the gassho-zukuri houses allows the snow to slide down more easily, preventing the roofs of the houses from collapsing. What is even more impressive is that many of the roofs held in part without being bolted together or anything like that.

And the small community’s also secured their income creatively: silkworms. These were bred here and used for kimono production.

Even today, the architecture of the Gassho-Zukuri houses is perfectly designed for breeding silkworms. When a fire was lit on the ground floor, where the family was housed, the upper floors, where the caterpillars lived, could be heated at the same time. In addition, there was enough space to grow millet and buckwheat.

With the economic boom of Japan, however, more and more inhabitants moved to the surrounding cities and so the magnificent houses became fewer and fewer. From the 1970s onwards, efforts were made to preserve the Gassho-Zukuri houses. Since the 90s, they are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nowadays, the village can be reached via the adjacent highway, even in winter when there is snowfall.


About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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