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Hida Furukawa and Shirakawa-go: A Magical Winter Scene

Hida Furukawa and Shirakawa-go: A Magical Winter Scene

Each of Japan’s four seasons offers unique scenery and experiences, and the Hida region in Gifu Prefecture is the perfect place to enjoy all four! Though beautiful in all seasons, this area boasts arguably the most famous spot in the country for winter scenery – Ogimachi Village in Shirakawa-go.

Tucked deep in the mountains, Shirakawa-go is officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known especially for its famous gassho-zukuri farmhouses. These traditional farmhouses are notable for their steeply slanted thatched roofs which resemble hands together in prayer. Designed specifically for the heavy snow that blankets the region each winter, these roofs are built using traditional joinery techniques that rely solely on interlocking wooden elements. With some houses dating over 250 years in age, they are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the people who have called this village home over the centuries.

Picturesque winter scenes in Shirakawa-go
Picturesque winter scenes in Shirakawa-go

During the winter months, Shirakawa-go becomes simply magical. Surrounded by snowy mountains, the snow-covered houses light up the village, creating scenery like something straight from a fairytale. Many of the houses in town have been converted into shops or even inns, such as Wadake or Yokichi, where you can stay the night and get the full Japanese fairytale experience! For those looking to enjoy sweeping views and photo opportunities, make sure to check out the Shiroyama Viewpoint, which can be accessed either on foot or by a quick 200-yen shuttle.

Although remote, Shirakawa-go is easy to access. A shinkansen (bullet train) ride from Tokyo (2.5 hours) and bus from Toyama Station (1.5 hours) make for a simple if lengthy trip. The beautiful scenery along the way will make the journey fly by!

It’s also really easy to access from Hida Furukawa, making them both ideal stops on the same trip. Hida Furukawa’s winter is similarly renowned and can be reached via a 50-min bus ride to Takayama followed by a 15-minute train ride through Hida’s stunning countryside. If traveling directly by car, it takes about 55min.

Shirakabe Dozogai Street in winter / Photo: Fabien Recoquille
Shirakabe Dozogai Street in winter / Photo: Fabien Recoquille

Hida Furukawa is especially known for its many artisans who have shops in the historic district, particularly along Shirakabe Dozogai Street, which comes alive in the winter. One of the town’s most popular festivals, the Santera Mairi Festival, is held in January during the height of winter. Numerous ryokans can provide a traditional stay and warm hospitality, while you explore the best of Hida on a snowy day!

If you’re looking for a magical winter getaway, the Hida region is an ideal place to go. From popular spots like Shirakawa-go to hidden gems like Hida Furukawa, there are warm memories waiting to be made in Japan’s winter wonderland!

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