Go on a Day Trip from Kanazawa! How to See Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
If you visit the Kanazawa area of Hokuriku, it is highly recommended to take a day trip to the gassho-style hamlets of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. Here is a plan to see an area where you will encounter a quintessentially Japanese landscape created by houses with triangular thatched roofs and rich nature.
- We're Off! From Kanazawa to Gokayama
- See the Two Gassho-style Hamlets of Ainokura and Suganuma
- Take the Bus to Shirakawa-go
- See Gassho-style Houses such as Wada House and Nagase House
- See the Gasshozukuri Minkaen Outdoor Museum
- Enjoy a View of the Gassho-style Hamlet from the Ogi-machi Castle Ruin Observation Area
- Get on a Highway Bus to Return to Kanazawa
We're Off! From Kanazawa to Gokayama
To go to Gokayama from Kanazawa, take the shinkansen bullet train from Kanazawa Station to Shin-Takaoka Station (3,030 JPY; approx. 14 minutes). From there, take the World Heritage Bus (1,000 JPY between Shin-Takaoka Station and Ainokuraguchi), and you will arrive in Ainokura in Gokayama in about 60 minutes.
If you are riding the World Heritage Bus, the the Free Kippu (2,000 JPY and up for one adult), that allows you to get on and off wherever you want, is recommended.
See the Two Gassho-style Hamlets of Ainokura and Suganuma
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama constitute the only area in Japan where you can see thatched roof houses in the Gassho-style today. It is registered as a World Heritage Site.
Ainokura in Gokayama is a small hamlet surrounded by mountains where you can enjoy a peaceful scenery created by 23 houses, fields, and stone walls.
Take the World Heritage Bus to get to Suganuma, which is about 11km away from Ainokura (560 JPY; approx. 20 minutes). It is a hamlet on a river with nine houses that are still remaining. Both hamlets have museums of traditional industries and folk customs so you can experience the culture that remains in the region.
Take the Bus to Shirakawa-go
Once you've got your fill of the scenery in Gokayama, set your sites on the Shirakawa-go Gassho-style Hamlet. It is about 40 minutes on the World Heritage Bus from Suganuma to Shirakawa-go (Ogimachi). The fare is 860 JPY.
See Gassho-style Houses such as Wada House and Nagase House
Wada House is one of Shirakawa-go's representative gassho-style houses. It was built about 300 years ago and is the largest in the hamlet. The garden, hedges, and surrounding fields and waterways have all been well preserved. A part of the ground floor and the second floor are available to view and show traditional everyday articles that were used by the Wada family.
Nagase House is a five-tiered gassho-style house. In addition to the magnificent Buddhist altar and artworks, you can see a video of the roof being thatched.
The entrance fee for each house is 300 JPY/adult and 150 JPY/child. There are many other houses.
See the Gasshozukuri Minkaen Outdoor Museum
This is a museum in an abandoned gassho-style house that was moved and preserved. At the museum, you can see how people have lived for centuries in harmony with nature through the scenery on the grounds, the architecture, and exhibits.
The museum grounds has 26 houses including nine that are designated as important cultural properties of the prefecture, as well as a water mill, shrine, and temple. In some of the houses that you can enter, you can go up to the attic. The entrance fee is 600 JPY/adult and 400 JPY/child.
Enjoy a View of the Gassho-style Hamlet from the Ogi-machi Castle Ruin Observation Area
The observation area of the Ogi-machi Castle Ruin with a panoramic view of the gassho-style hamlet, is the best spot to take pictures. You can walk there or take the shuttle bus (200 JPY) that leaves from the water lily pond at Wada House. It is closed when there is snow, but in such cases, you can enjoy the view from the observatory parking lot.
Get on a Highway Bus to Return to Kanazawa
Return to Kanazawa on a highway bus. It will take approximately 1 hour 15 minutes and the fare is 1,850 JPY. The seats are reserved, so it is best to make an online reservation in advance.
The gassho-style hamlets are still inhabited, so take care not to enter any houses or fields without permission, or to visit late at night or early in the morning. Thatched roofs are susceptible to fires, so cigarettes are prohibited.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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