Set far back in the valley, Ainokura (相倉) is the most remote village in the Gokayama region. It is also the largest of the villages with nearly 20 gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Many of them remain private residences, although a few have been converted into restaurants, museums, and minshuku.

Ainokura, along with Suganuma and Ogimachi, was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995. As it is less developed and harder to get to than Ogimachi, Ainokura is quieter and sees less tourist traffic, and offers similar attractions including the highly recommended overnight at a farmhouse.

Being so remote, Ainokura, along with the rest of Gokayama, has been able to maintain a lot of its traditional culture. This can be seen in its folk dances and music, which use a number of traditional instruments unique to the area. For example, the sasara, an instrument made of over a hundred wooden clappers strung together, is symbolic of the region and is a popular souvenir.

Gokayama, especially the towns around Ainokura, is well known for its washi paper. Legend has it the technique was brought here from Kyoto at the end of the Heian Period when survivors of the Taira Clan escaped to this region after their defeat by the Minamoto Clan. There are several stores in the area where you can observe local artisans making washi paper as well as try your hand at making some yourself.

Folklore Museum

Hours: 8:30 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen for both museums)

Traditional Industry Museum

Hours: 8:30 to 17:00
Closed: Infrequent, irregular closures
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen for both museums)


Washi Workshop Hall

Hours: 9:00 to 16:30
Closed: Tuesdays (except national holidays) and from December to April
Admission: from 600 yen (cost for short washi-making activity)

Attractions outside of the village center

Gokayama Washi

Murakami-ke House

Hours: 9:00 to 16:00 (entry until 15:40)
Closed: Tuesdays and Wednesdays (except national holidays) and from mid December through February
Admission: 300 yen

Getting there and around

Daytime visitors are asked to vist Ainokura only between 8:30 and 17:00 and refrain from visiting the villages in the early mornings and in the evenings.

By bus

Ainokura is a stop along the bus route between Shirakawago and Takaoka (see timetable). The one way bus ride from Shirakawago to Ainokura ("Ainokura-guchi" bus stop) takes 45 minutes and costs 1300 yen. From Shin-Takaoka Station, it takes about one hour and costs 1000 yen.

By car

From Ogimachi, Ainokura can be reached in about 45 minutes along National Route 156. You can cut travel time by a few minutes by taking the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway between Shirakawago and Gokayama IC (580 yen expressway tolls). From Gokayama IC, Ainokura is reached in about 15 minutes. Parking costs 500 yen.

How to get to and around Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Hotels around Shirakawago & Gokayama

Top rated in Shirakawago & Gokayama
    • Onyado Yuinosho
      Located in Shirakawa, 45 km from Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village, Onyado Yuinosho provides accommodation with a shared lounge, free private parking, a restaurant and a bar. Each accommodation at the 4-star ryokan has mountain views, and guests can enjoy access to a sauna and a hot spring bath. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, free shuttle service and luggage storage for guests. The ryokan will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. At Onyado Yuinosho each room is fitted with bed linen and towels. The accommodation offers a ? la carte or Asian breakfast. Takayama Station is 47 km from Onyado Yuinosho, while Shirakawago is 600 metres away. The nearest airport is Toyama Airport, 82 km from the ryokan.
      View on Booking.com
    • Guesthouse AntHut
      Guest House Ant Hut is located in Shirakawa-go village, a 20-minute walk from the bus terminal Ogimachi at Shirakawa-go World Heritage Village. Free private parking is available on site. Guests can make use of the free shuttle service offered by the property or take a local bus to access the guest house. The Ant Hut has a shared kitchen furnished with essential cooking appliances. The lounge is fitted with a flat-screen TV and DVD player. The guest house features a bathroom, 2 toilets and a hairdryer. Each bed has a private luggage shelf, power outlet, reading light and a fan. Free WiFi access is available throughout the entire property. The property is situated in a quiet location within walking distance to a convenience store and 2 popular local restaurants. Guests can engage in various activities around the region such as skiing and hiking. Property staff are able to recommend things to do around the village. Complimentary seasonal drinks are offered to guests upon arrival and coffee is provided in the mornings.
      View on Booking.com
    • Shirakawago Guest House Kei
      600 metres from Shirakawago, Shirakawago Guest House Kei is set in Shirakawa and offers rooms with free WiFi. All rooms feature a kitchen and a shared bathroom. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen and luggage storage space for guests. All guest rooms in the guest house are fitted with a coffee machine. The units will provide guests with a microwave. The nearest airport is Komatsu Airport, 46 km from the property.
      View on Booking.com