Shirakawago (白川郷), Ogimachi (荻町/合掌村)

Shirakawago is a UNESCO site. It is famous for traditional gassho-zukuri houses. Gassho style houses are residences built from wooden beams that support their characteristic, steeply sloped, thatched roofs, that meet at a high peak, and are said to resemble hands meeting in prayer (合掌). Shirakawago is on high altitude and this style of houses can withstand heavy snow. Some of the houses in Shirakawago region were built in the 1800. Ogimachi is the largest village in Shirakawago and a transport hub of Shirakawago. When buses say they stop at Shirakawago, usually they mean stopping at Ogimachi bus station.

How to get there

There is no train that stops at Ogimachi. To get to Ogimachi, you can take a bus from either Nagoya, Toyama, Kanazawa, or Takayama. Note that Ogimachi is a popular destination therefore early booking of bus tickets is highly recommended.

We did a day trip from Kyoto to Shirakawago Ogimachi and back. It’s doable but it was a long day. First we rode an early train from Kyoto to Nagoya, and took a bus (reservation weeks before) for almost 3 hours from Nagoya to Shirakawago Orgimachi. When came back from Orgimachi, we actually booked another bus from Orgimachi and stopped at Takayama. We spent a few hours walking on the preserved streets of Takayama. After that, took a train to Nagoya, and then from Nagoya to Kyoto. So yes, a day trip from Kyoto to Ogimachi is doable, but it will be a long and tired day, but well worth it.

Getting around Ogimachi

You can comfortably tour Ogimachi on foot. It’s mostly on flat land. One exception is that there is a viewpoint half way on a hill. You can either hike (15-20 minutes) to the viewpoint, or taking a shuttle bus (5 minutes, cost 500 yen as of 2023) from Wada house. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes and takes one hour lunch break from 12-1. You can spend two to three hours in the village. There is a bridge that crosses a river on the south end of the village. There are some more restored traditional houses on the west side of the river.