One thing that I love to do when I travel to a new country is visiting exceptionally beautiful small towns and villages. It comes as no surprise that I found myself in Shirakawa-go during my first trip to Japan.

This quaint farm village nestled in the Japanese Alps in Central Japan is famous for its unusually large and steeply-pitched triangular-shaped thatched roof farmhouses. Shirakawa-go along with historic villages in nearby Gokayama are inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Although my itinerary in Japan was a bit tight, I knew I couldn’t pass over the chance of visiting this place… great thing that I did because winter came early during my trip & Shirakawa-go was covered with a fresh layer of snow. Japan winter wonderland achieved!

Traveling to Shirakawa-go for the first time? Scroll down to get started on planning your trip. I’ve included a sample itinerary, places to visit/things to do, list of expenses/budget breakdown and extra travel tips.

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Shirakawa-go Itinerary

What to do in Shirakawa-go in 2 days? Here’s a 2 days & 1 nights (2D1N) itinerary for your do-it-yourself (DIY) trip. It’s suited for travelers who plan to enjoy a day trip to Shirakawa-go village from nearby Takayama.

Feel free to tweak the activities & timings below based on your traveling style, schedule & attractions that interest you the most.

Day 1: Takayama Old Town

TimeActivity

Train or Bus to Takayama Station

Takayama hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Explore Takayama Old Town

I decided to spend the night in Takayama because of Nohi bus’ convenient Kyoto-Takayama & Takayama-Kawaguchi bus routes that fit my Japan itinerary well. It’s an added bonus that I got to visit Takayama Old Town as well.

Depending on your schedule, you can also consider taking the Shirakawa-go day trip from Nagoya or Toyama.

Day 2: Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

TimeActivity
0820 AM

Meet-up for Shirakawa-go and Gokayama tour at Takayama Nohi Bus Center Ticket Office

0820 AM

Depart from Takayama

0945 AM

Explore Ainokura Village

Pass by Gokayama Village on the way to Shirakawa-go

PM

Lunch at Tenshukaku Observatory/Shiroyama Viewpoint

Ogimachi Castle Old Site Observatory

TimeActivity

Gasshozukuri Minkaen Outdoor Museum

Eat Soba ice cream

Deai Bridge

Free time in Shirakawa-go Village

Wada House

Shirakawa-go to Takayama bus

Train/bus to onward destination

 

Shirakawa-go Budget

Your travel expenses will largely depend on your traveling style and how much you plan to spend on activities, accommodations & food. To help you set your own budget, here are budget estimates if you follow the 2 days and 1 nights (2D1N) itinerary posted above. Make sure to review all discounts & online booking prices.

Activities/attraction costs breakdown
JPY 6,690Shirakawa-go Guided Tour with Lunch — Per person guided tour price. Day tour from Takayama. This is excellent value for money considering the Takayama-Shirakawago roundtrip regular bus fare already costs JPY 4,420. Join this tour to enjoy hassle-free transport not only to Shirakawago, but also Ainokura Gokayama village, professional guide and lunch at Tenshukaku Observatory (included in tour fee). In addition, you also have the option of joining the scheduled mid-afternoon bus back to Takayama. Or, any of the regular Nohi bus schedules later that day. Picked the ‘later bus’ option & enjoyed more free time exploring the Shirakawa-go village.Book here
Budget Trip – Backpacker expenses
JPY 2,500Accommodations — Price per night in a budget hostel dorm
JPY 3,750Food — JPY 2,500 per day inexpensive meals budget x 1.5 days.
JPY 6,250Sub-total — Excluding attractions/activities, flights & train/bus to Takayama. Including accommodations, food. Approximately PHP 2,986 / USD 56 / SGD 77. Or, a daily budget of JPY 3,125 / PHP 1,493 / USD 28 / SGD 39.
JPY 6,690Activities — Per person tour price. From Takayama. Including lunch & stopover at Gokayama Ainokiura village
JPY 12,940Total — Including activities & expenses above. Approximately PHP 6,182 / USD 117 / SGD 160. Or, a daily budget of JPY 6,470 / PHP 3,091 / USD 58 / SGD 80.

I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can do the trip. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.

Other activities
JPY 8,000Shirakawa-go Day Tour from Nagoya with Lunch — Includes lunch buffet, roundtrip transfers from Nagoya & hassle-free guided tour. Book well ahead of your trip to reserve your tour slot.Book here
JPY 6,780Shirakawa-go Day Tour from Nagoya — Includes roundtrip transfers from Nagoya & hassle-free guided tour. Book well ahead of your trip to reserve your tour slot.Book online
JPY 13,000Winter Illumination Wonderland in Shirakawa-go — Includes roundtrip transfers from Takayama or Nagoya, Hida beef meal for lunch & hassle-free guided tour. Book well ahead of your trip to reserve your tour slot.Book here
JPY 14,0005 Day JR Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass — In case you plan on enjoying an extended trip in Central Japan. Includes unlimited rides on selected JR train lines for 5 days. Plus, buses to Shirakawa-go, Ainokura & Suganuma Gokayama. Must book this early to grab cheaper price online, at least 2 weeks ahead of travel date.Book here
Other expenses
JPY 1,067Japan local 4G/4G SIM card — 1GB data for 6 days & up. Japan airport pick-up.Book discount here
JPY 500Japan pocket WIFI hotspot — Per day device rental.Book discount here
Japan travel insuranceBook online

Shirakawa-go Itineraries & Travel Blogs

More travel tips coming once the detailed Shirakawa-go travel guide is out. In the meantime, feel free to check out my Pinterest board and list of helpful Shirakawa-go travel blogs below for inspiration.

Follow updates on Pinterest@detourista.

1 Day Itinerary

What to do in Shirakawa-go in 1 day.

VisitGuide To Visiting Shirakawa-go In One Day (how To Get There, Travel Guide With Printable Map, Where To Eat) – iWandered
VisitSample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka or Kyoto – JP Rail Blog

4 days

What to do in Shirakawa-go & beyond in 4 days.

VisitThe Perfect 4 Days Itinerary For Shirakawa-go, Takayama, Kanazawa & Nagoya – Central Japan Travel Guide – iWandered

5 days

What to do in Shirakawa-go & beyond in 5 days.

VisitShirakawa-go On A Budget 2018: 5 Days Shirakawa-go, Takayama & Nagoya Itinerary & Travel Guide – The Poor Traveler
Visit5 Days Nagoya Itinerary Blog And Central Japan Itinerary – The Pinay Solo Backpacker

6 Days Itinerary

What to do in Shirakawa-go & beyond in 6 days.

Visit6d5n Takayama-hokuriku Experience Itinerary – Shirakawa-go – Kampung Boy City Gal

1 Week Itinerary

What to do in Shirakawa-go & beyond in 1 week (7 days or more).

VisitOutside Popular Japan Cities: Fujikawaguchiko & Takayama On A Budget – 7 Days For Less Than ₱35,000 – The Wknd Travel

Don’t Stop Here

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Check out these pages for more travel inspiration beyond Shirakawa-go: