What is the ever so popular Shirakawa-go?
Sights to see at Shirakawa-go
Precautions for the Light Up

Shirakawa-go, a world heritage site, is a village famous for its triangular “gassho” style roofed houses. Tourists visit this Gifu prefecture village year round, but it is especially popular in the winter when snow packs the rooftops. The best time to visit, even out of the winter days, is on the days of the Shirakawa-go Light Up. For just four days, the houses are lit up, giving the entire snowy village an extra glow.

About Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go Village House in the Daytime

Gassho style house

Shirakawa-go is a village in Gifu prefecture’s town of Shirakawa. The village is long-loved for its cute “gassho” style houses, named after the shape of the roofs looking like a “gassho” (palms put together for prayers). Along with the Gokayama village in Toyama prefecture, Shirakawa-go was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.

Shirakawa-go Light Up dates(2018)

Only 4 days. Jan.21st and 28th. Feb.4th and 12th

Where to go for the best views

Tenshukaku (castle keep) Observatory

Shirakawa-go View from Tenshukaku Observatory

View from Tenshukaku Observatory

At the Tenshukaku Observatory, located on a hill in the Shirakawa-go area, you can experience viewing the entirety of the “gassho” style houses. The observatory deck is popular from day to night for its striking view, but the sight is especially phenomenal during the winter Light Up.

The Light Up starts at 5:30p.m., when the skies just begin to darken. This is a great time to go to the observatory for the view, as the lights and the dim sky create dream-like scenery.

Upside down houses from Myozenji

Shirakawa-go Myozenji night view winter light-up

Upside down Gassho-style house

Inside the town is Myozenji temple. From the temple, you can get a view of the “gassho” style houses reflected in the nearby rice paddy fields. There are few other areas in the town where you can see the upside-down “gassho” style house phenomenon, but the view from Myozenji is by far the clearest.
You can witness the upside down reflections during the day too, but the reflections in the water are clearer during the Light Up nights. On snow days, the rice paddy fields may be completely covered in snow, not allowing for the reflections to show.

Wada House

Shirakawa-go Wada House winter light-up night view

Wada house

The Wada House, a designated important cultural property site, is the biggest “gassho” style house in the village. People still reside in the house today, and the parts of the first and second floor are open during the day for visitors. During the Light Up event, the Wada House is specially lit up from two different asides, allowing it to stand out even more.

Shirakawa-go winter light-up aerial night view

Shirakawa-go in the winter

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to any of the four light up days, since Shirakawa-go is still an amazing sight without it too. Though not as strong as the lights of the light up, the lights inside the Shirakawa-go houses also provide the glow under the snow-capped roofs. Non-light up nights are usually less crowded and more quiet.

Light Up Precautions

Tickets for the Tenshukaku Observatory

Starting 2018, there is a limit of 900 visitors per day at the Tenshukaku Observatory (for safety purposes). The first 900 visitors are granted tickets on a first-come first-served basis. Only after receiving a ticket can you get on the shuttle bus from Shirakawa-go to the Tenshukaku Observatory. Walking from the village to the observatory is prohibited.

【About the tickets】
•Where to get them: JA Parking Lot
•Time: from 4:30p.m. (Queues start at 2:30p.m. Lining up before 2:30p.m. is prohibited.)
Fee: ¥500

Parking Lot Cautions

If you decide to travel to Shirkawa-go by car, be aware of the limited parking spaces. The designated parking areas have enough space for 500 cars, but are usually full and closed by 5:00p.m. Traffic, too, is usually congested on the way there, so make sure to arrive early to secure a parking space.

Special Busses during the Shirakawa-go Light Up

During the four light-up days, there are special busses running until later in the night. You can check the bus schedules online:

・ Nouhi Bus 濃飛バス (https://www.nouhibus.co.jp)
・ Gifu Bus 岐阜バス (http://www.gifubus.co.jp)

Book hotels ahead of time!

Since the Shirakawa-go Light Up is such a popular event, the hotels are booked as soon as the light up schedule is released in August. Make sure to check for the light up schedule frequently so you can succesfully book your accommodations.

Worth visitng Shirakawa-go during the off-season winter times


Shirakawa-go covered in snow

Because the Light Up event is only 4 days long, it might be a little difficult to visit during the event season. However, even without the event, Shirakawa-go is still just as beautiful. The lighting from the neighborhood houses light up the area in a very gentle, relaxing way.


Nearest station: Shirakawa-go 白川郷 (bus stop)

From Kanazawa Station 金沢駅

【Kanazawa Sta.】Nouhi Bus (highway bus) / for Takayama Bus Center
→ 【Shirakawa-go Bus Stop】

From Toyama Station 富山駅

【Toyama Sta.】Nouhi Bus (highway bus) / for Takayama Bus Center
→ 【Shirakawa-go Bus Stop】

From Nagoya Station 名古屋駅

【Nagoya Sta.】Gifu Bus (highway bus) / for Shirakawa-go Bus Center
→ 【Shirakawa-go Bus Stop】


Ogi-machi Shirakawa-mura,Ono-gun,Gihu