Travel Reports

Shirakawa-go Light-up Event

By LIHUA ZHAO. Posted on November 28, 2014

Shirakawa-go has been designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) due to its gassho-zukuri houses. The farmhouses are called gassho-zukuri houses because the houses resemble palms placed together like praying hands. Because of the heavy snow in winter, the thatched roof is designed to be steep (between 45 and 60 degrees). In winter, the village is totally covered by white snow, which makes you feel like you are living in a fairy tale. Each year, the village organizes light-up event to attract tourists. You can walk up to Shirakawa-go's observation deck, where you can view the whole village surrounded by mountains. If you are planning to visit Shirakawa-go, don't miss the light-up event. The time schedule for the light-up event of 2015 is as follows (17:30 – 19:30):

  1. Sat, Jan 17th 
  2. Sat, Jan 24th  
  3. Sun, Jan 25th 
  4. Sat, Jan 31st 
  5. Sun, Feb 1st
  6. Sat, Feb 7th 
  7. Sat, Feb 14th 

IMG_5818.JPGThe Shirakawa-go suspension bridge (Deai-bashi) stretches across Shokawa River. You can cross the suspension bridge to enter the village. 


Inside the village, there are many museums, souvenir (omiyage) shops, inns and restaurants. You can visit some of the museums to learn the history and construction procedures of gassho-zukuri houses. Souvenir shops sell traditional Japanese chopsticks, Shirakawa-go sake (a Japanese alcoholic beverage), cookies, etc. You can walk around the village and enjoy the beautiful landscape.

If you decide to stay one night at Shirakawa-go during the light-up event, don't forget to reserve accommodations in advance. We stayed at the Nodaniya house, which was built more than 100 years ago. The owner provided a traditional Japanese dinner with nabe (cooking pot), tofu, miso soup, grilled fish, and small dishes of Japanese home-made food. The breakfast was simple and included egg, rice, nori (edible seaweed), and some small dishes. Although they provided an oil heater and kotatsu table (wooden table frame with a heater inside), it was quite cold at night. It is recommended that you wear warm winter coats and water-proof boots. There are also onsen facilities in the village where you can take an onsen and enjoy the scenery. 



To visit Shirakawa-go, you can book a tour package from a tourism agency particularly for the light-up event. Shirakawa-go can be easily reached from Nagoya by highway bus or from Takayama by local bus. Shirakawa-go is highly recommended for those who want to experience a traditional Japanese home-stay. Shirakawa-go is definitely a must-visit place in central Japan, where you will create unforgettable memories. 




Lihua Zhao has been living in Japan for 6 years as a researcher in computer science. She loves travelling and hiking in Japan. Now she started to explore the Shoryudo region of Japan (Central Japan).

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