Saturday, 26 December 2009

Japan 2009: Day 7 (UNESCO World Heritage Site - Shirakawa-go 白川郷)

50 minutes by Nohi bus (not covered by JR Pass) from Takayama is the UNESCO World Heritage site Shirakawa-go. I was very excited about coming to this place, staying at a gassho zukkuri (farmhouse)

and soaking in the hot spring in shirakawa-go =D

Here’s the route to Shirakawa-go.

To get to the village from the bus terminal, everyone had to cross this suspension bridge. It’s quite amazing… there’s NOTHING supporting it from beneath. It’s just suspended at two ends and when you walk with many people, you can feel the bridge vibrating hehehe…

After depositing our baggage at a gassho zukkuri (farmhouse) Kanja, we walked around and built our first snowman

below are the three gassho houses always featured in posters and postcards. To take this shot, i was standing on a rice field covered in snow. For the zoomed in shot, if you look closely at the bottom left, there's actually a rainbow ^^

had lunch at a small eatery. I had Hida soba which I realised is vegetarian =P

I met a group of ah pehs who reminded me of Mr Tee… armed with their top end nikons and canons with tuah tuah liap L lens and monopods, they were having a whale of a time firing away at this persimmon tree LOL

we kena saboed by them though… they told us that to get to the top of Shiroyama viewpoint, we would need a car so we decided to hike up to Shiroyama Viewpoint to catch a bird’s eye view of the place. It wasn’t that bad but I kept asking chris…

Me: dear, are we reaching??
Chris: not yet…
Me: I think we’re reaching!!
Chris: we’re not even half way there, dear.
Me: >_____<|||

When we finally reached, Chris said his lunch was gone liao LOL the sun was in the wrong direction la so I was rather -.- but then again, we’re only there once so shoot shoot lor. there was actually a bus up and down the viewpoint!!! We took the bus down -_____-|||

The snow was like 1m high…

Before dinner, we dropped by at Shirakawa-go no yu 白川郷の湯 for a soak in the public hot spring bath =D

Actually, Shirakawa-go can be covered in a day trip from Takayama unless you want to stay at a gassho zukkuri. If you do a day trip, you won’t be able to see the night view of the place lor. But light-up is only in January anyway. I went around at about 4:45 when the sun was going to set and saw a couple of crazy photographers like me out with tripods and cameras LOL There was an ah peh who was helpful in pointing out interesting things to shoot and happily showed me his pictures =)

Here are some of my night shots…

A machine shovelling snow and spitting it out into a heap. It was freaking cold out there…

Here’s our dinner… again nothing fancy, just homecooked fare: tempura vegetables (eggplant, pumpkin, sweet potato, shiso leaf, mushroom), fried fish, grilled beef, pickles, tofu, miso soup, rice and mikan, Japanese tangerine.

they still use firewood one neh...

oh, we met two Singaporean geen nahs at the gassho zukkuri we stayed at... ah yo, they backpack one er... >.< young really different la. got the energy... we travel more like the old fogeys in Japan... with our tiny overnighter trolley bag hahaha oh but the trolley bag is not such a good idea in snowy places because you can't drag it at some parts! hahaha we realised =P

and the geen nahs couldn't understand a word of Japanese but could still get around so to those who are wondering... it's possible one. but of course, if you can speak or at least READ Japanese, it's an added bonus.

Access to Shirakawa-go:
Take Nohi bus from Takayama bus terminal (JPY4800 for round trip)

Price at gassho zukkuri Kanja:
JPY19320 per night (about SGD$300) inclusive of dinner and breakfast which is very expensive considering the fact that it's got no TV, no internet, no ensuite rooms, toilets are freezing cold (although got heated seat). The water in he toilet is not heated so it's like iced water. I didn't wash my face. I just used cleansing milk and tissued off. heng i brought my evian spray so i sprayed to remove cleansing milk then wiped off with tissue and toner twice. Our hotel in Nagoya with everything only cost about JPY17000 neh... but staying here is for the novelty lor. Try Koemon (nearest to suspension bridge so most convenient) or Yokichi (Yokichi has English speaking staff and is near Shirakawa-go no yu so it's very popular for non-Japanese speaking tourists) but book early cos when we booked, these were already full. However, I was told that reviews about the service at Koemen were not good. I don't know. Basically, it's an experience. Tried once, probably won't try again cos for the price, we can get much better hotel amenities in the cities LOL