JP 2015 Day 3: Takayama & Shirakawa-go

A huge part of my Japan trip was inspired by anime. I guess there is nothing more cliche than going on a pilgrimage to the location basis of one of my fave show, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni! So I went to Shirakawa-go, the basis of the cursed Hinamizawa town in the anime.

2015-03-11 07.33.03.jpg
If you are coming from Tokyo, make sure you take the rightmost seat to see Mt. Fuji! I’ve been told that it is uncommon to see Mt. Fuji clearly. You have around 10mins I think to see it while on the journey.

From Atami, I took the shinkansen to Nagoya and boarded a local train to Takayama. It will be a 2h30m journey from Nagoya so make sure you are full or you have a bento ready before you board!

2015-03-11 13.06.11.jpg
First time to experience snow and I am not amused.

I actually went to Takayama to experience a little snow and unfortunately I might have experienced too much. March is the start of summer in the PH, I expected that snow will at least clear up a little in Japan!

I stayed at JHoppers Takayama because they have a JPY500 off for a Shirakawa-go tour. I highly recommend this hostel in Takayama because other than it is just a stone’s throw away from Sanmachi (the place where you can see the traditional Japanese houses Takayama is famous for), the staff is very friendly, fluent in English and everything is squeaky clean. There is a nearby Family Mart just straight ahead. I got in a girls dorm room and was fortunate that there are only two of us there. The toilet is not centrally heated though (of course the water is) so if you are like me who cannot imagine not taking a shower in the morning, be warned.

After check-in, I immediately ran to the bus for the Shirakawa-go tour, the meet-up point being the Takayama Station, which is just a 5-min walk from JHoppers.

The trip to Shirakawa-go from Takayama takes an hour and we had a very friendly tourist guide on board who is of course very fluent in English. She acknowledged that indeed, a lot of young people who visit Shirakawa-go are there for seeing Higurashi’s Hinamizawa! Unfortunately we couldn’t get up to the village view deck due to the snow, which was soooo sad because that’s one of the most memorable sights from the anime.

How do I get out of the Ice Path?

Shirakawa-go is famous for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its preservation of houses with the gassho-zukuri style. We were given a map of the houses to visit and I think the tour guide highly recommended the Kanda House because they have free tea #priorities. There is an entrance fee to get into the houses. Due to the snow though I wasn’t able to navigate properly in the village, but there are a lot of helpful signs to point you to the houses.

First of all, you have no choice but to cross this long hanging bridge. While it is very stationary, you can still feel some shaking especially if there are many people walking with you. As if the snow isn’t enough to make you tremble right?

2015-03-11 15.36.40.jpg

2015-03-11 14.59.29.jpg

From the bridge and on to the main road, if you turn left you will see the gassho-zukuri houses and if you go further you will reach the view deck. In that direction are the houses of Higurashi characters too, but it will be a long walk from the hanging bridge and with the snow, it will be such a pain! However, if you go right you will see something eerily interesting.

I totally had no idea where this leads to!
I totally had no idea where this leads to!

OH LOOK, the Furude Shrine! It’s real name is Hachiman Shrine though.

2015-03-11 15.14.12.jpg
Saa~ Wasuremashou~ Sono mirai ga~

2015-03-11 15.16.16.jpg
Higurashi fans know what happened here. I bet they won’t even look at the back. 😉

Higurashi fans doing their pilgrimage! Jinja-ema dedicated to the anime/ game!

Kudos to this post that served as my guide. Lesson learned: For a better Higurashi experience, VISIT DURING THE SUMMER SEASON! (And hear the eerie crying of cicadas, ooh.)

After an hour or so in Shirakawa-go we went back to Takayama. The snow won’t stop and it is freezing cold so I couldn’t get around. I was starving and found a very nice curry place, Jakuson Curry, which is a walking distance from JHoppers. I think I was just walking towards the train station and felt like turning right. 😉

2015-03-11 19.17.09.jpg
I swear this was the best tonkatsu curry that I ever had in my short stay in Japan.
Good morning, Takayama!
Good morning, Takayama!

2015-03-11 20.10.41.jpg

2015-03-12 08.37.36.jpg


From Family Mart to JHoppers

That’s it about my short stay in Takayama and Shirakawa-go!

Read about how I prepared for my Japan trip here and my host family experience in Atami here.