Best Places to Stay In & Around Shirakawa-go
The villages making-up Shirakawa-go and Gokyama rank among some of the most popular destinations in Central Japan, which despite their relatively remote locations, are easy to get to, always popular with accommodation in high demand. On this page you will find the following information:
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama is a World Heritage-listed grouping of three villages – Ogimachi, Suganuma and Ainokura – best-known for their distinctive ‘gassho-zukuri’ farmhouses. Designed to withstand deep snow, the high-pitch of the thatch roofs also provided a large living and working space within each building, allowing families to be self-sufficient through winter. Though the design is a functional one, the farmhouses are also beautiful and set high in the North Alps, combine to offer visitors some of Japan’s most spectacular alpine villages and vistas.
15 Things to Do in Shirakawa-go & Where To Stay
The villages making-up Shirakawa-go and Gokyama rank among some of the most…
Given the World Heritage status of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, thousands of visitors descend upon them each day. Most head to Ogimachi leaving the smaller villages of Suganuma and Ainokura quiet and free of crowds. The villages can be visited at any time of year with each season offering its own reason to visit. Autumn is a particularly beautiful time as the landscape is transformed into a mosaic colour and the first dusting of snow falls on the mountains above.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING SHIRAKAWA-GO?
The World Heritage listing of the villages provides them with a global profile, meaning that they are always popular and accommodation is in high demand. In this section we provide information about accommodation in the following areas:
For visitors wanting to stay in Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, a range of accommodation exists in and around the villages including converted farmhouses. Should you wish to stay in or nearby one of the villages, expect high prices and make sure to book well in advanced. Alternatively, look for accommodation in nearby Takayama – approximately 60-minutes by bus – or the larger cities of Toyama and Kanazawa – all of which have bus services running to and from the villages:
SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKAYAMA AREA
Across the three villages making-up Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, multiple farmhouses have been converted to serve as accommodation. Operated by local families, staying in one of the farmhouses offers the chance to enjoy a traditional ‘minshuku’ lodging including dinner and breakfast service. Always popular, guesthouses often book-out well in advance and prices can be high. This style of accommodation won’t be suited to everyone given it is likely to require you to sleep an on-floor ‘futon’ and use shared bathroom facilities with other guesthouses. However it that appeals to you, choosing to stay in Shirakawa-go and Gokayama allows you to experience the atmosphere of a traditional lifestyle that has almost disappeared from the world. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Shirakawa-go & Gokayama’ hotel page.
Many if not most visitors heading to Shirakawa-go do so in combination with a visit to nearby Takayama. Frequent bus services connect the two popular destinations in under 60-minutes. The greatest concentration of accommodation in Takayama is found on between the station and Miyagawa River. There are multiple large hotels in the area with Western-style rooms and amenities along with good mid-range and budget options. It is worth noting that the largest hotels are often used by tour groups so if that is something you want to avoid, go for a smaller hotel or guesthouse. The ‘Sannomachi’ or ‘old town’ is located on the eastern-side of Miyagawa River, approximately 15-minutes walk from Takayama Station. Within the old town, visitors have the option of some excellent ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses) and smaller hotels. Prices can be high and the most popular guesthouses tend to book-out well in advance so it pays to plan ahead if that’s what you’re after. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Takayama City Area’ hotel page.
Toyama is another convenient launching point from where to head to Shirakawa-go, with regular bus services running to and from Toyama Station. Centred around Toyama Station and to the south around Toyama Castle Park, the city has lots of good accommodation options including large to mid-sized Western hotels. Visitors can choose from many mid-range to budget options and enjoy prices that are often notably cheaper than other cities in Japan. With this in mind, staying in Toyama can be an attractive option when visiting Kanazawa – which is only 20-minutes away by train – which can be enjoyed as a day-trip or over multiple days from Toyama. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Toyama City Area’ hotel page.
Directly accessible from Shirakawa-go using bus services to and from Kanazawa Station, staying around Kanazawa Station puts you just over an hour from the main village of Ogimachi, The area around the station boasts many large, Western-style hotels that can be directly accessed from the station or within a short walk, making it an ideal location for travellers wanting Western rooms and. From the station, local buses run to and from many of the city’s most popular attractions, most of which can also be reached on-foot within 30 to 40-minutes. For more information including accommodation listings, see our ‘Kanazawa Station Area’ hotel page.
Best Places to Stay in Kanazawa
One of Japan’s most historic and rewarding cities, Kanazawa also offers vis…
Alternatively, the Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle Park area of the city offers another concentration of both large hotels and small guesthouses. For more information including accommodation listings, see our ‘Kenrokuen Garden & Kanazawa Castle Park Area’ hotel page. Known for its traditional teahouses and historic streetscape, the Higashi Chaya District of Kanazawa is another popular destination for many travellers and offers plenty of accommodation including traditional guesthouses. For more information including accommodation listings, see our ‘Higashi Chaya District & Asano River Area’ hotel page.
15 THINGS TO DO IN SHIRAKAWA-GO
For many if not most Japanese, the word ‘satoyama’ conjures imagery of idyllic rural villages and a slower, healthier way of life in which people live in harmony with their environment. Literally translating as ‘mountain village’, satoyama has no better demonstration than in the villages making-up Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. Awarded World Heritage status for just that reason – as examples of human ingenuity and the ability of man to live in harmony with our environment – the villages are hugely popular destinations that can be enjoyed as day-trips from Takayama, Toyama or Kanazawa or overnight visits by staying in one of the farmhouses. Our ’15 Things to Do in Shirakawa-go’ page has some great information about what’s on offer when you visit and accommodation options in the area.
HOW TO GET TO SHIRAKAWA-GO
Shirakawa-go can be reached using bus services from Takayama, Toyama and Kanazawa or for visitors wanting to drive themselves, is also easy to reach using the expressway. For information on how to get there from those starting points and beyond, see our ‘How to Get to Shirakawa-go’ page.
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Central Japan offers many, many reasons to visit. Operating all year round, we are Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator, offering a range of services including group tours, private tours and charters. We can arrange transport including a private vehicle and driver to transport you to, from and between any destinations in the region.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of your adventure in Central Japan and help you discover even more!
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Got a question about visiting Shirakawa-go and Central Japan? Contact us and let’s get planning together!