After the short intermission in Kyoto to see the Gozan no Okuribi, I set out for the Hokuriku region for the remainder of my vacation. I am a fan of the region that includes Kanazawa, Nagano and Takayama. The proximity of the Japanese sea and the central mountain range allow for a diverse itinerary featuring activities at the sea and in the mountains. I traveled through Hokuriku in Winter 2018 and enjoyed it a lot. Still, there is still a lot I did not get to see yet and I also felt it was time to revisit some places I enjoyed in Summer.
Without the tourist visa status, riding the train is not as cheap as it used to be. Fortunately, JR permitted the use of their local rail passes to foreign residents with the notable exception of the all-country pass. I used this opportunity to plan a five-day trip with the Takayama-Hokuriku Pass.
The route was as follows. On the first day I traveled from Kyoto to Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture with the Thunderbird train. There, I continued with the bus to Shirakawagô in Gifu prefecture, spending a night in one of the traditional gassho zukuri houses. The next day I further advanced into the mountains to reach Kamikochi in Nagano prefecture. Continuing, I planned to return to Takayama and use the Hida train North to Toyama at the coast on day four. Because of the unfavorable weather I did not go to the Kurobe area but stayed in Toyama and Takaoka. On the last day I visited Kanazawa and returned to Kyoto.
Shirakawagô is one of my favorite places in Japan and that is why it draws me back for the third time already. After a first visit in the Summer and one in Winter I am now back in Summer.
The village is well-connected nowadays by frequent highway buses from Kanazawa, Takayama and Takaoka. Obon had just ended, so it was not very busy and I could also stay a night in one of the gassho zukuri-style houses.
By coincidence I ended up booking the same house again as during my first visit, making it exactly 10 years since I last came. Of course the memories from then were hazy but the photos confirmed it.
Not much has changed in that time, I could revisit many places I remembered.
A must-do, overlooking the village from the observatory in the south.
Dinner was served around the fire place in the center room and I dined on local cuisine alongside a family from the Tokyo area.
From my room I could hear a stream and the sounds of the night. It was a welcome change from the daily city life.
The next morning I enjoyed breakfast in the same manner and then walked through the village once again.
I visited the open-air museum which featured 25 original houses that were moved from other villages when they were abandoned and are kept in good condition since.
The weather just began to improve when I left the village. I could easily have spent another day here but the next destination, Kamikochi, called me. So I took the bus to Takayama, and then to Kamikochi from there.
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