TOURS
1 Day Tour from Kanazawa: Shirakawa-go, Gokayama and Wood Carving Village

1 Day Tour from Kanazawa: Shirakawa-go, Gokayama and Wood Carving Village

Period

All Year Round

Time

09:00 - 18:00

Meeting Place

Kanazawa Station

Price

Adult (13+)23,800 / 25,800 JPY
Child (6-12)15,000 / 17,000JPY

1 Day Tour from Kanazawa: Shirakawa-go, Gokayama and Wood Carving Village

Deep in the mountains of Japan lies the quaint villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, with their beautifully preserved gassho-style houses. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites, of which some of the buildings are over 250 years old, gives a glimpse into the ways of Japanese traditional farming communities. On the way from Kanazawa to those stunning sites, there are other historic towns such as the woodcarvers of Inami. Being far from the large cities of Tokyo and Osaka, enjoy walking through a town which continues its tradition of woodcarving to this day. On the shops, in the temples and on signs are beautiful examples of this living history. The entire region was once home to many different kinds of local crafts, such as Japanese style paper making, an activity that you can do on this tour. Enjoy a day long bus tour from Kanazawa where you can see expert wood carving, try your hand at paper making and see the UNESCO World Heritage sites Shirakawa-go and Gokayama traditional homes.

Highlights

  • Visit the town of wood-carvers in Inami, where you will walk through a street that is still home to masters of the craft and then see Zuisenji, a 300 year old temple known for its beautiful carvings.
  • Try your hand at traditional Japanese paper making in Gokayama.
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site village of Shirakawa-go and enter one of the homes to get more of a feel for the history and excellent craftsmanship of the area.

*For those looking to join the tour from Tokyo, please see the FAQ Section below

Description

This tour will start at Kanazawa Station at 9:00 A.M., where your guide will meet you in front of the Information Center near the Shinkansen Ticket Gates. You will have the opportunity to put your belongings in a coin locker at the station as well if you feel the need; however, you can of course store your belongings on the tour bus as well.

The tour begins at Kanazawa Station, where you will get on the bus at the bus terminal on the Kanazawa Port side of the station. After boarding the bus, you will ride about an hour on the highway through the beautiful mountains and then plains of the Hokuriku Region.

As you get off the bus in the middle of a small town near the mountains, you will have arrived in Inami. This area is famous for its woodcarving and there are over 100 professional traditional woodcarvers in the area, mostly on the main street. From the parking area we will walk towards that main street, where even on the way you can see some great examples of the woodcarving specialty of Inami.

The main street of the thoroughfare leads towards the centerpiece of Inami, Zuisenji Temple. As you go along you can find examples of National Historic Treasures in woodcarving on and above many of the shops. Also, look for the cats hidden everywhere. The town association says there are 32 but many other shops have their own secret cats in interesting locations. Try to find them all!

Finally, you will arrive at Zuisenji Temple, with its giant walls. As you approach you may feel like you’re about to enter a castle. Originally built in the 1300s, it burned down in 1735. That prompted a rebuilding that brought a famous wood carver from Kyoto. The locals learned from him and created a specialized industry in the city that became nationally renowned. There are many intricate designs that include not only patterns on the gates but also dragons, lions, elephants and many of the other famous animals all over the grounds. You can get up pretty close to many of them, they’re really a unique sight to see.

After seeing the temple it is time for an early lunch in the town. There are two soba restaurants that your guide will recommend, but feel free to walk around and enter some shops. Eat wherever seems good to you!

gokayama-ainokura-view

Meeting back up at the parking lot, we will then head towards Gokayama, one of the two areas of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first stop is Ai-no-kura, one of the best preserved villages in the area. Here is a short stop where you can walk around and get those beautiful shots from the observation point.

This area, secluded from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities, was vital to the economic prosperity of the entire state. The production of various agricultural products and sake were very important but also was the manufacture of gunpowder and paper. You will get your hands wet making paper using traditional Japanese methods. First you will better understand the history and methods before participating in the final step of the actual creation process. When done, you can take the paper you made home as a souvenir!

The next bus ride will take about 40 minutes before arriving at the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Shirakawa-go. This beautiful village is famous for its picturesque townscape with the gassho farmhouses. We will start from the end of the main street of the village and weave our ways through the historic farming town. You can really feel the history as you walk on wooden bridges, under the thatched roof house and simple admire the majestic mountains all around. We will even enter into one of the historic houses. After seeing the inside of a gassho farmhouse, you have free time to walk around, eat and shop.

shirakawago-gokayama

After a long day exploring around the region, we will return to the bus and head back to Kanazawa. The ride is a little over an hour so relax and enjoy the ride back to the station/hotel. If you have any questions about any other parts of your trip, this is a perfect time to ask!

ITINERARY

09:00Start your tour at Kanazawa Station, where your guide will greet you begin the tour.
The meeting point will be outside the Shinkansen ticket gate, in front of the information center sign. We will then head over to the bus pick-up point.
10:00Arrive at Inami to explore the main street full of wood carvers and their interesting creations throughout the townscape. This will be followed by a walk around Zuizenji Temple to see the place where all the wood carving starting.
11:10From this time you will have some free time to eat lunch, shop or explore the area a bit more before heading to the next area.
12:10Meet up at the bus to head to Gokayama. This is a 35 minute bus ride into the mountains.
12:45Arrive at the first stop in Gokayama, the Ainokura Village. Here you have a short amount of time to walk around and get some good pictures of the village. Your guide can show you the way to the nice photo spot overlooking the area.
13:15Get back on the bus and head to the Japanese Paper-Making Experience nearby.
13:30Once at the Japanese Paper-Making Experience, you can choose paper inserts to put in your paper before actually giving it a try. After 10 to 15 minutes of drying you'll have a small souvenir of three postcard size pieces of paper to bring home.
14:00After every has finished making their paper, we will head to Shirakawa-go, the most famous of the UNESCO site villages.
14:40Arrive at Shirakawa-go at the end of the main street, then we will head into the village to learn about the history and the homes themselves. We will also enter one of the thatched-roof houses and discover more about the lives of the farmers and the construction itself. After the entering a farmhouse, you will have free time to walk around and see whatever else you want. There is time to shop, enter other houses or even eat some of the various delicacies in the village.
16:40Get on the bus to leave to go back to Kanazawa.
18:00Arrive back at Kanazawa and say goodbyes!

Note: There is often traffic at this time so the arrival time may fluctuate up to 20 minutes. It usually fluctuates between 17:50-18:20, so be careful with shinkansen and bus tickets leaving too close to this time.

TOUR MEETUP POINT

1 / KANAZAWA STATION @ 9:00 A.M.

Kanazawa-Meeting-spot

The meetup point is outside of the Shinkansen ticket gates, in front of the information center. If you are heading out from the gates, look forward and to the right and you will see a four large sumo wrestlers lined up. This is where we will be meeting. For those coming from outside the station, you will find this sign immediately inside of the East Entrance of Kanazawa Station. You may wait nearby there until the tour begins at 8:30 A.M. Be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag.

NOTES

Included

  • Transportation to and from Shirakawa-go and all other destinations
  • English speaking guide
  • Entry fee at Zuisenji Temple
  • Guided Tour at the Wood Craft Town Inami and Shirakawa-go UNESCO site
  • Japanese Paper-Making Experience Fee

Excluded

  • Lunch
  • Accommodation

Other Information

  • This tour involves several hours of walking in the outdoors. We recommend that you wear shoes and clothes which are easy to walk in. Please check the weather forecast before you head to the meetup point and prepare an umbrella or rain coat if necessary.
  • In winter the temperatures will be below 10℃ at the high , and in the morning and evening may be close to or below 0℃. Please wear warm clothing and footwear appropriate for snowy and cold conditions. There may also be snow and ice on the road/sidewalk, and so you should take care to not slip by preparing the correct shoes for such conditions.
  • There will be free time along the way for guests to enjoy the locations at their own pace. However, please make sure that you are at the respective meetup points at the time stated by your guide. If you get lost or need assistance, feel free to call the number which is listed on your tour pass, and our staff will assist you immediately.

FAQs

Q. I’d like to join this tour from Tokyo/Nagano. Is that possible?
Yes, it is possible to do so!

For those coming from Tokyo, please ride the Shinkansen departing Tokyo Station at 6:16 A.M., to arrive in Kanazawa at 8:43.

For those leaving from Nagano, you can catch the same Shinkansen from Nagano Station at 7:38 A.M.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like more information.
Can I choose to end the tour in Shirakawa-go or go to Takayama, instead of returning to Kanazawa?
Yes, you may stay in Shirakawa-go or continue on to Takayama.

If you are intending to purchase a bus ticket to a location other than Takayama, we can also help you book that. However, please note that locations other than returning to Kanazawa or going to Takayama are not included in the cost of the tour.
What should I wear/bring?
Please wear clothing appropriate to the season in which you are taking the tour, and check the weather forecast ahead of time. Guests may wish to bring rain coats or umbrellas on rainy days, or sunscreen to avoid sunburn during the summer months. In the winter months, the air temperatures will be cold (10 to -5 ℃ on average), and so gloves, winter boots, warm hats, and hand warmers are recommended. Otherwise, please feel free to bring any other items, such as water or a snack, which you would normally carry when walking in the outdoors.
Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?
Yes. We can help book accommodation for guests who will be spending the night in Kanazawa, or nearby areas. Please send us an inquiry if you would like to request help.
Is this tour wheelchair accessible/appropriate for guests with limited mobility?
The nature of this tour means it is not wheelchair accessible and may not be appropriate for guests with limited mobility, given the amount of walking involved. Should this be of concern, contact us prior to booking to discuss options.
Is lunch included on this tour?
No. This tour does not include lunch however there will be opportunities to purchase food and drinks during the tour. If you prefer to, please also feel free to bring snacks and drinks with you.

(Travel Agency License No: Nagano 2-562)
Snow Monkey Resorts Tours
Nagano City Kurita 1015-7, NK Copo 202, Nagano, 380-0921 Japan
Tel: (81)26-219-6256
Member of All Nippon Travel Agents Association
Travel Service Supervisor: Tomoko Kasahara