Traveling to Shirakawa-go, Japan during winter for the first time and not sure what to prepare? Let’s dig into this post, and I will share with you my experience of taking my parents there for the first time.

Best Season to Visit

Shirakawa-go in every season has its own beauty. During spring and summer, you will find green scenery as far as you can see. To be perfectly honest, if you are coming from a tropical country like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc, visiting Shirakawa-go during spring and summer will not be that special because you can see it everywhere in your country.

Fall season will be prettier. You will find the iconic yellow, red and orange leaves. If you come on the right timing, those leaves will be falling down and the weather will be so good as it won’t be that hot or cold.

However, if you ask me what season would be the perfect time to go there? I will definitely answer the Winter season! You will find those iconic houses and farms covered by snow during this season. It’s so pretty and feels so magical, especially when you see this village from the observatory deck.

Where to Stay

There are a few villa or guest houses options if you’d like to stay there. You can just google it or just look for the 2D1N tour from KLOOK. However, I recommend you to stay there only if you stay during the lights festival. It’s a special festival only during the winter season where you can see lights on all the houses. Many of my friends say that it’s so pretty, but I haven’t experienced it by myself yet.

If you don’t want to stay there, there are 2 options that you can stay around, either staying around Toyama/Takayama or Nagoya with several consideration : 

Toyama/Takayama - If you’d like to experience a more snowy and breezy winter. Toyama/Takayama is located in a bit of the northern area of Japan, but still accessible with shinkansen in less than 5 hours.

Nagoya - If you still want to explore the city of Japan but you are bored with Tokyo or Osaka, you can stay in Nagoya. It’s only 2 hours away by shinkansen from Tokyo, 1 station away from Kyoto and 2 stations away from Osaka. Meaning if you want to travel around the OG of Japan itinerary (which is Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka), Nagoya will be the perfect place to stay.

I personally chose staying in Nagoya area due to my itinerary.


  • 1 Day Tour from KLOOK : I initially would like to go there with this 1 day tour package from KLOOK, but unfortunately they have a limited slot and limited schedule as well. So make sure you have to match your itinerary with their tour schedule. The benefit from going there with a tour is definitely you can just sit and relax, just listen to your tour leader command. When I was there I also met some people from KLOOK tour and they were organized very well by a tour leader with a big bus. So it's also a good option to choose. But the downside, of course you have a limited time in Shirakawa-go Village, because usually it has its own rundown and destination.
  • Public Transportation by your own : Either you are coming from Takayama/Toyama or Nagoya, you can visit Shirakawa-go by bus or train. However, I highly recommend you to just get on a direct bus by reserving the ticket online. If you want to buy on the spot, make sure you go to the ticketing place D-1 before your departure date, because usually the bus is full especially during winter season. I booked my bus online 1 month before my departure date. Below is the link where I booked the bus.

I took the bus from Meitetsu Bus Center 3F as on the maps below.

This is the Gifu bus that took me from Nagoya Station to Shirakawa-go. It stops 1x at the rest area for around 15 mintues, so you can go to the restroom and buy some drinks on the vending machine. I already review this bus on my Tiktok, you can watch it HERE.

And this is me, enjoying the view from the rest area :)

What to Do

Shirakawa-go village is one of the most popular destination during winter season in Japan. It's a UNESCO Heritage site located in Gifu Prefecture. It's so well known with its traditional house called gasshō-zukuri. This house is so solid. The roof is made slopping so that it can be sturdy for all seasons, especially during winter because this village will be covered by snow.

So the thing that you can do of course exploring these traditional houses. There is one cultural asset that open for public called WADA House. It costs JPY 300 for adults and JPY 150 for children to enter this house. I didn't enter this house though, because basically like a museum and prayer room inside which I was not really interested to see.

I was mesmerized enough with the view around me, especially when seeing the village from the top  Observatory Deck. You can go to the top by walking around 20 minutes. It was tiring but, OMG the view is so beautiful. One of the best view I've ever seen in my life.

If you are coming between mid Jan-Feb, usually they will have lights festival on the village. Too bad I didn't come during that period. But if want to watch the lights festival, make sure that you are in a good condition because it's late at the evening till night, the temperature must be dropped. Prepare warmer clothes to comfort you so you can still enjoying the view.

You can also explore to the Deai-Bashi Suspension Bridge area. It's actually a bridge that connects the parking lot to the village, but the view is so amazing. As you walk across the bridge, you will be mesmerized with the calm flowing water on the river under you.

Lastly, you can also find some Gifu souvenirs around Shirakawa-go village. You will find a few traditional houses selling local foods and souvenirs that you can share for your friends and relatives!

What to Eat

There are some restaurants there, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to try one because I was too late. Most of the restaurants are closed around 3pm, I went there around 2.30pm but most of the menus are sold out already. And I was too tired to look for another restaurants, so I just had my snacks there. There are few stalls selling snacks and dessert. It also has local minimarket there, so you can buy something there too.

2 things on the list that you have to try when you are in Shirakwa-go, Hida Beef and Rice Sake! Hida beef is one of the most popular foods in Gifu Prefecture. You can also have it during your visit to Takayama. The beef tastes so tender and juicy. The simple seasoning makes it even much more comforting. The Rice Sake is also really good. It is made from Hidahomare rice, so you will taste the crushed rice form inside the glass. We usually drink alcohol on the cold temperature, this time you can taste hot sake! Such a perfect combination to comfort your cold winter.

Overall, I really recommend you to visit Shirakawa-go when you are in Japan. Tokyo might be cool, but Shirakawa-go is really comforting. There are so many transportation alternatives that can bring you there, so it's time for you to visit!!

And anyway, all the pictures above are original from Iphone 11 without any preset. When I visited there, the sun was shining so brightly so it was not that cold. I could survive without gloves and scarf on actually. It was a good timing, but I know it would even nicer if there's snow fall lol. Maybe I should visit this place again soon :)

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