Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shirakawago/Takayama: 7th Feb 2016

We woke up pretty late today as our tour was to begin at 10am. We checked into Daiwa Roynet Hotel Nagoya-ekimae and I must say this is a very value-for-money hotel. It is much cheaper to stay in Nagoya than Tokyo for sure and the shopping over at Nagoya is no less comparable as compared to Tokyo, away from the big crowds that you may face in Shinjuku.

So at 10am, we assembled at the fountain in front of JR Nagoya station. Wow, there were many groups with Club Tourism Japan that day. Mostly heading to Shirakawago for its night illumination during winter. It was said that this illumination event happens every year for certain weeks on Saturday and Sunday in Jan and Feb. So there is bound to be many people visiting this quaint, if not touristy village, during these weekends. Visiting in different seasons gives a different feeling as well. We chose winter as our season to visit!

We took up this bus day tour with Club Tourism Japan. The price included all transport to and fro from Nagoya station and also entry fees and food. There were many foreigners on board for this tour.

And off we went on a bus to enjoy some Hida-beef in sukiyaki style.

A chance encounter with the wild at our lunch place within the mountains. Not sure where the location is, but the scenery around there was breathtaking.

Our first stop was to Takayama (高山), a quaint old town present within the Gifu Prefecture. It consists of many narrow streets that are lined with wooden shophouses dating back to Edo era.

It seems that the Hida-beef at this area is also very famous as within a few footsteps away, you will see shops selling this specialty. 

After an hour and a half exploring Takayama, we slowly made our way to Shirakawago (白川郷). This place was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. The farmhouses were built in a way similar to construction as hands in prayer. This style was known to be very hardy as it could withstand all challenges from the weather. Being located within the mountains, there will be heavy know and unpredictable weather. What was more fascinating was that these roofs of the houses were constructed without any nails!

Since it is in the winter, sunset happened early at 430pm. By the time we reach there, it is already sunset time. Temperature started to decline, I think it was near 0 degrees when we were there.

There were many many people. Probably all ready for the light illumination. You can enter some houses to view the interior at a charge. For instance, the Wada and the Kanda houses are open for visiting.

We didnt spend much time exploring the interior as I was busy finding spots to shoot the starry night sky with the houses in a frame. Finally I found one but it was filled with many photographers. So I have to squeeze my camera setup in a very small space, side by side with other photographers, awaiting for the illumination to begin!

The whole experience ended at about 8pm and we bade farewell to Shirakawago before taking our long bus trip back to Nagoya station. It was indeed a interesting and fulfilling trip to have visited Takayama and Shirakwago! Well worth to plan a trip to cover these two places as they are located in the same area :)

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