Visiting Shirakawago in May can easily be done as a day trip to Nagoya. Although many people pass over Nagoya on their way between Tokyo and Kyoto, it is worth it to spend some time in the Chubu Area.
To visit Shirakawago from Nagoya, the easiest way, by public transit, is to take the Gifu Bus from Nagoya Station. It takes 2-3 hours, depending on traffic and is less than 4000 yen, on way. It can easily be done as a day trip if you leave Nagoya around 9:00 am and arrive back around 5 or 6 pm.
It’s also possible to spend the night in one of the gassho-zukuri houses, which would make for a wonderful experience and great memory to add to your trip to Japan.
My experience at Shirakawago in may
The buildings with the “praying hands” roofs of Shirakawago in May 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.
In May it was busier than when I went in March. However, it still didn’t feel like a bustling tourist destination. I did go during the week though. Shirakawago is a bit off the main tourist route (since a lot of tourists tend to skip Nagoya 🙁 )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 walked 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 could 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 of the village. 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 and watery rice paddies.
Shirakawago in May is a perfect place to witness the start of spring.
After coming back down the hill and through the town, I spent the rest of the time on the rocky banks of the river, 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.
Don’t you think Shirakawago iin May beautiful in the Spring? Make sure you try and include on your next trip to Japan!
More Shirakawago: Shirakawago in March: a winter wonderland
A day trip from Nagoya: Magome to Tsumago on the Nakasendo
Practical information to visit Shirakawago in May
From Tokyo: Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Toyama and transfer to the bus to Shirakawago. One way takes about 4-5 hours, appox. ¥15,000.
From Nagoya: Take the Gifu Bus from Meitetsu Bus Centre at Nagoya Station. One way is 2-3 hours, ¥3600.
From Kanazawa: Take the Nohi and Hokutetsu Bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawago. One way is 75 minutes, ¥3290. Reservation is required.