In spring, the buildings with the “praying hands” roofs in Shirakawago hold a special beauty. No longer covered in snow, they are surrounded by fresh greenery and newly sprouting rice.

I have been to Shirakawago two times. Once in the winter, and once in May during Golden week. The second time I went by bus from Nagoya. It is in Gifu prefecture and takes about three hours.

In May it was busier than when I went in March. However, it still doesn’t feel like a bustling tourist destination. It is a bit off the main tourist route and maybe less well known. In the spring, the Shokawa River flows stronger as you cross the bridge into the main village.

The group of people that I was with (my Japanese language classmates) quickly split into groups, and I was on my own. Loner alert.

I walk through the village at my own leisure, stopping for rice cakes and to watch the fish when I pleased. This is the time of year that the rice is just starting to pop out of the water-filled paddies. In the winter, you can’t tell that the snowy ground hides rice paddies. Now I can see how much of the space was dedicated to growing rice. I always like to see the baby rice sprouting in the water.

I spent the next couple hours walking into different buildings and shops and finally walking up the hill to get the birds-eye view. It looked much different than it did two months ago. Before it is all browns and whites, with snowy sloped roofs. Now it is a sea of green, scattered with brown buildings. The water-filled rice paddies glisten in the afternoon sun, and I image what it must look like in the fall, just before harvest, when the rice is gold. I should try and see it someday.

After coming back down the hill and through the town, I spent the rest of the time on the rocky banks of the river away from the crowds, waiting until it was time to leave.

Initially I had thought that I didn’t need to go to the same tourist destination twice in Japan. But after seeing it the second time in a different season, I can say that it was worth it. It is arguably more beautiful in the spring, and you can see what has been hiding under the snow.

These are a few highlights of my second trip to Shirakawago.

shirakawago rice fieldsshirakawago buildingshirakawago roof detailshirakawagoshirakawago village

Do you think Shirakawago is beautiful in the Spring? Leave your comments below!

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After Teaching English in Korea and Japan for three years, Jennifer came to the profound realization that teaching was not the career for her. So, she went back to school. After brushing up on her Japanese for one year, she completed a Master's Degree in International Development at a university in Japan. She is currently working on her PhD. This blog was born as a way for her to write about her adventures in Japan and around the world.


  1. So beautiful! I am considering going in autumn. May I know approximately how much it cost for bus fare from Nagoya and how much to stay a night in those adorable cottages? Thank you 🙂

    • It is very nice. I would like to see it in the fall too, when the rice fields are turning yellow. I don’t know how much the bus is. My school paid for it, but I know there are highway buses from Nagoya and more from Takayama. Not sure about staying in a ryokan or minshuku, but a quick Google search gives me an estimate of average ¥10,000 a night.

      • Thank you. What a coincidence! I met a Japanese in Myanmar desperately needed to exchange some Japanese yen into USD so I got a ¥10,000 note. Maybe it’s a sign… haha… 🙂

        • Haha, nice. I hope you’ll be able to make it to Shirakawago. I just looked at images of it in the autumn, and it maybe looks even nicer than winter or spring. Maybe I should think about doing the same thing.

    • Aren’t they nice though? I think there must be something relaxing and peaceful about the presence of water. Life-giving water.

    • It is nice that it’s not too far from me. It would be cool if I could see during all the seasons. I think they would all be so different but all beautiful. White, then green, then more green, then red and yellow.

    • I think all seasons have their own special pretty things. Now I’m wishing I could go back in the fall. I enjoyed reading about your stay in the house.

  2. The cottages/houses are so pretty. Beautifully described, Jen. That image of the green sapling popping out of the water-logged fields is life-affirming. Autumn and the rice turning gold especially under the mellow rays of a setting sun does sound rather wonderful 🙂 x

    • Thanks. I like the baby rice plants. I want to see the rice fields just before harvest. Here, or anywhere, really. I just want to see a field of gold, and I think it would look especially pretty here.

    • May is a nice time to visit. It must have been nice (albeit, cold) in February, since there must be a lot of snow at that time.

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