Today, we are going back to Japan. I bring you to Shirakawago, a small village in the mountains located in the North of Nagoya. Shirakawago is listed as World Heritage site since 1955 for its traditional houses built in the gassho-zukuri style. These big houses made with wood are 18 m long, 10 m large and built on 4 levels. The thatched sloping roof is very useful to carry the snow weight, very heavy in winter.
What is the best moment to visit Shirakawago?
We were visiting Shirakawago at the end of March, between Winter and Spring and honestly, it was not the best season. At that time, it’s quite cold, it snows but it’s not cold enough for the snow to stay but as it’s not Spring neither, the trees are leaves-free. Brown color that dominates the landscape. In fact, the best thing is to visit Shirakawago 4 times, one for each season : it’s covered with snow in Winter, the cherry trees blossom in Spring, rice paddies are green in Summer and trees are scarlet red in Fall. You have to make a choice!
How to get to Shirakawago?
To go to Shirakawago, you can take a bus from the JR Kanazawa, Takayama or Toyama stations (map of the Nohi bus who get there here). I advise you to buy your tickets before even if we often read on Internet that it’s not necessary. In fact, when we arrived to Kanazawa early in the afternoon, the day before going to Shirakawago, all the buses that were leaving the morning were full. It was not an issue for us because we planned to spend the night in Shirakawago. But if you have a tight schedule and only stay a few hours there, buy your tickets before to be sure to get on time!
Where to stay at Shirakawago?
The village is small, you can visit it in a few hours (and in taking your time). Staying overnight is not necessary but lovely if you want to experience the traditional Japanese life within a gassho-zukuri. We stayed in the Kanja gassho-zukuri (found on Japan Guest House website) for about 192 US$ (21 800 yens), breakfast and dinner included for two people.
Our experience in the gassho-zukuri
Personally, we loved the night we spent there. We were warmly welcomed, despite the language barrier that considerably limits discussions. The room is comfortable, the bedding is of good quality but it remains a traditional wood house with a rough isolation. Wood doors and paper windows are used for outer insulation. The house different rooms are separated by wood panels, so we hear each other talking. We can even see our neighbours if we are close enough to the wood panel. It’s as if we were all living in a same big room! Rooms were equiped with fuel stoves. We were told to switch it of overnight, it’s what we’ve done because we use to listen to people instructions. Moreover, we were warm enought with our two duvets. However, when we walked up in the morning, it was only 8°C in the room…
Within the gassho-zukuri, we live with local people pace. Dinner is served at 6.00 pm. At 6.40 pm, we all go back to our rooms to get prepared to sleep. And we hurry up to the bathroom because it closes at 7.00 pm. Don’t tell me why, I have no idea. As stores close early, from 5.00 to 7.00 pm, there is no possiblity to go out for a drink. But it’s so calm, there is no noise at all… Until we hear our Chinese neighbour snoring (don’t forget your ear plugs)… We use to go to bet late, our neigbours are all sleeping, and I think we are disturbing them with our light, so we also decide to sleep… At 4.00 am, the tenants are up! When you go to be early, you also wake up early! We are in holidays, so our alarm clock only rings at 6.30 am. We have half an hour to get prepared before breakfast is served at 7.00 am. Check out is plannaed at 9.00 am.
To conclude, even if it was really cold (my hands are blue on the past pic), it was a very rewarding and relaxing experience. Japan is a so relaxing country, even if you are at the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. Yyou don’t feel the same stress you can feel in Paris.
Enjoy your Friday and have a lovely weekend, Xxx.
Mango kids sweater (new co) – Mango jeans (old) – Stan Smith, kids collection, T35 – Aurélie Chadaine leather fringes (new co) – Lou Lou Creative Lab earrings (old), similar in the current collection here – Blue Melon beanie (old)*
Photos : Shirakawago, Japon