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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.

Folk Museum Number 1

Hours: daily 8:30 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen for both museums)
Typical Visit Duration: 10-15 minutes
English: Good

Folk Museum Number 2

Hours: daily 8:30 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen for both museums)
Typical Visit Duration: 10-15 minutes
English: Good

Viewpoint

Washi Workshop Hall

Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Closed: Tuesdays and December to April
Admission: 700 yen (cost for short washi-making activity)
Typical Visit Duration: 20 minutes
English: None

Attractions outside of the village center

Gokayama Washi

Murakami-ke House

Hours: 8:30 to 17:00 (December to March 9:00 to 16:00)
Closed: Wednesdays (except for national holidays)
December 30 to January 3
Admission: 300 yen

Getting there and around

By bus

Ainokura is a stop along the bus route between Shirakawago and Shin-Takaoka Station on the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen (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.

How to get to and around Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Hotels around Shirakawago & Gokayama

Top rated in Shirakawago & Gokayama
Budget:
    • Shirakawago Terrace
      Budget-friendly
      Renovated in August 2017, Shirakawago Terrace, a century-old traditional Japanese wooden house, is located in Shirakawago, just a 10-minute walk away from the famous Shirakawago Ogimachi World Heritage site. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. The Shirakawago Ogimachi Bus Stop is a 10-minute walk from the property. The hostel is also conveniently located a 5-minute drive from the Shirakawago IC and a convenience store is located a 2-minute walk away. Chubu Centrair International Airport is a 3-hour drive from the accommodation. Featuring heating, each room at the hostel includes a private bathroom. Guests sleep in Japanese-style futon bedding on tatami (woven-straw) floors. A shared kitchen provides a place where guests of the hostel can prepare meals. An electric kettle, microwave and fridge are included. A shared lounge is also available. Parking is provided free of charge on site. Some lights are powered by on-site photovoltaic system.
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    • Guesthouse AntHut
      Budget-friendly
      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.
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    • Onyado Yuinosho
      Luxury
      Located in Shirakawa, 200 metres from Shirakawago, Onyado Yuinosho provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge. Guests at the 4-star property can enjoy mountain views in the rooms and access to a sauna. The ryokan features a hot spring bath and a 24-hour front desk. The ryokan will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms offering 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. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a ? la carte or an Asian breakfast. The nearest airport is Toyama Airport, 49 km from Onyado Yuinosho.
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    • Shirakawago Guest House Kei
      Budget-friendly
      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.
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