Japan Chronicles Part 1 (2017) | My Second Time in Shirakawa-go

Monday, February 05, 2018

They say that home is where the heart is. However, is it okay to love your own country and at the same time fall in love with another? Because that happened to me when I first visited Japan in 2015. While I do love the Philippines, I can’t help but feel like I belong in Japan, and it strikes my soul somewhere in a manner I don’t understand. The people (and their customer service!), the food, the Japanese Alps, and the culture stirred up a love that is difficult to express in words. No matter the reason, I cannot wait to return and get to experience that love again. This Japan Chronicles Part 1 marks my third visit to the land of the rising sun. 

*You probably noticed I used the word love many times. It’s February, the month of love, so there you go! Haha!
We meet again, Shirakawa-go!
When I first visited Shirakawa-go, my friends and I stayed overnight in a Gassho Zukuri, a farmhouse with a traditional Japanese building style. It was the best experiences I had on that trip and I promised myself that I would do it again if I have the chance. If you have not seen that blog post yet, check it out right here. We also experienced onsen for the first time in 2015, it's been blogged right here.
If there is a greater thrill of travelling than the discovery of unfamiliar places in Japan, for me it’s getting there by train.
In 2017, I travelled with my friends from the office. Most of them are first timers in Japan, so you might probably know what our itinerary looked like. We bought 7-day JR passes, which allowed us to see most of Japan’s top tourist destinations and some lesser known ones. We could have skipped Shirakawa-go because we only had 9 days but I want them to see its beauty. I also want to see it again not covered in snow. And it was one of the best decisions I made for this trip!

So, without further delay, here are some of the photos I took during my second visit to Shirakawa-go. I hoep you enjoy this short virtual tour!

The moment our plane landed safely at Nagoya’s Chubu Centrair International Airport, I felt a familiar pang of excitement. It felt like I was there to meet a long-lost friend, or I was to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey. I don’t know why but it felt the same way when I visited Japan in 2015 and 2016 (it’s going to be an annual visit, I promised myself).

Shirakawa-go is one of the places in Japan that turns me into a child about to unwrap a Christmas present. When people ask me for sample itineraries to Japan, I would always include Shirakawa-go, especially if they are planning to get a JR Pass. So what is it exactly that draws me to this place, anyway?

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-gō in northeastern Gifu Prefecture is famed for its traditional Gassho-zukuri (thatched roof) houses, which became Japan's cultural treasure. Even after hundreds of years, the village has remained relatively untouched. Visiting Shirakawa-go allowed me to discover the parts of Japan I otherwise would never have known if I stick with the usual Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto itinerary. 

Aside from the village itself, the journey on the train and on the bus in Central Japan was always a treat.  Sitting on bus or train seat while eating my Japanese-style bento meal while looking out of the window at the changing landscape fascinated me.

Having seen the place for the second time, my love for it is still there. It would have been more fun if we stayed overnight at one of the Gassho Zukuri farmhouses, but because of our very hectic schedule, we had to travel all the way to Tokyo in the afternoon. But I guess that's okay because I will have more reasons to come back, right? ^_^

Have you been to Shirakawa-go? What do you think about the place? Do you have any questions? Suggestions? Let’s chat down below! :)

Where to Stay in Tokyo on a Budget

Andon Ryokan
2-34-10 Nihonzutsumi, Taito 111-0021, Tokyo Prefecture
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Comfort Hotel Tokyo Higashi Nihonbashi
1-10-11 Bakurocho, Nihonbashi, Chuo 103-0002, Tokyo Prefecture
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Grids Hostel Asakusabashi
4 Chome-11-6 Asakusabashi, Taitō, 111-0053, Tokyo Prefecture
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