A quick google will tell you that Nagoya is well connected to different regions in Japan. I was surprised after further googling that Shirikawa-go is accessible from Nagoya. I booked those seat sale tickets right away!
To get to Shirikawa-go from Nagoya we had to take the train to Takayama and then a bus to Shirikawa-go. The train took around 2.5 hours and is covered by the JR Pass, while the bus ride took 1 hour and is NOT covered by the JR Pass. The buses were comfortable and the view was nice. We saw beautiful streams surrounded by mountains and as we went along snow appeared and got thicker and thicker, building our excitement.
The bus station is near the JR train station. You can’t miss it! Just follow the people and go toward where the buses are parking.
Bus tickets can be bought from a vending machine at the station. During the peak season (aka Christmas aka illumination season) it’s best to reserve tickets ahead of time, a friend of my mine had to take the taxi–it was ridiculously expensive! But do note that he’s rich and I’m poor, it’s all subjective.
Buses arrive at thirty minute intervals. We were planning to visit the scenic town of Takayama but the line for the Shirikawa-go bus was already growing so … we stayed in line to be safe. It was cold but the station had a convenience store and toilets so our thirty-minute wait was okay.
Also noteworthy is that there are coin lockers near the Takayama bus station. These are useful in case you are planning to go to Takayama straight from the airport or if you’re in between accommodations.
We went to Shirikawa-go for snow and we weren’t disappointed. There was even a small igloo made of snow you can go into. We played a lot and it snowed a little bit. It was a pretty magical first snow experience for us.
We went up the viewpoint, the snow was so thick the rails were nonexistent. It was also slippery and I wasn’t wearing proper snow gear or whatever. I was just scared and trying to justify it. Other people were okay, though. They were even playing on the way up. But the view at the top was amazing. I’m not even talking about the traditional houses but the mountains surrounding the area.
We were trying to look for a place to eat but the only ramen place had a long line so we didn’t bother. I was a bit disappointed that there were only a few places to eat, maybe we weren’t looking hard enough. Instead, we bought and ate traditional snacks. I don’t know what they were made of but they were filling and got us through the rest of day.
We only planned a day trip so went back to the bus station to go back to Takayama. Friendly reminder to always check for the last train and last bus so you won’t get stuck somewhere.
After a day of walking around Shirikawa-go and playing in the snow, we relaxed on the bus on the way back to Takayama. I felt sad watching the snow disappear as we got farther from Shirikawa-go. If you’re ever in Nagoya don’t miss the chance to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site.