View of Ogimachi from the Shiroyama Viewpoint

The main reason for the steep roofs and massive structure of Shirakawago's farmhouses is the large amount of snow the region receives every winter. Ogimachi Village typically gets covered by one to two meters of snow during the peak of the white season. While causing the locals quite a bit of hardship, the snow turns Shirakawago into an idyllic winter landscape.

To make it even better, the village organizes special illumination events on selected Sunday and Monday evenings in January and February that attract plenty of tourists. During the light-up event, many of the village's gassho-zukuri farmhouses are lit up from 17:30 to 19:30.

In 2019, Ogimachi will be illuminated on the following dates:

  • January 14, 2019 (Monday, national holiday)
  • January 20, 2019 (Sunday)
  • January 27, 2019 (Sunday)
  • February 3, 2019 (Sunday)
  • February 11, 2019 (Monday, national holiday)
  • February 17, 2019 (Sunday)

Because the number of visitors to the light-up event has grown too large in recent years, it has been decided to limit the number of visitors allowed into the village in order to avoid overcrowding and traffic jams and to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for all visitors. Starting with the 2019 event, it will become mandatory for everybody to get an advance reservation in order to visit the village during the light-up events. Below are the four possible ways to visit:

  1. Stay Overnight
    The best way to enjoy the light-up event is by staying overnight at one of the farmhouses in the village. Because of the limited number of lodgings, a lottery-based reservation system is in place in 2019. Entries can be submitted between August 15 and 30, 2018 through Peatix. Overnight visitors get the privilege of a parking lot and a shuttle bus ride to the Shiroyama Viewpoint.
  2. Visit by bus tour
    Multiple tour companies offer bus tours for seeing the light-up event. Some of them simply provide a chartered bus for access from Takayama or Kanazawa and back, while others include an overnight stay (usually in Takayama). Advance reservations should be made directly through the bus companies or travel agencies. The time period when reservations are accepted depends on the company and tour. Note that bus tour participants are not eligible to visit the Shiroyama Viewpoint.
  3. Visit by regular bus
    Details about accessing Shirakawago by regular bus are currently unclear. It is expected that advance reservations will be mandatory and handled by the bus companies from October 2018. Visitors accessing Shirakawago by bus can participate in a lottery-based drawing for a shuttle bus ride to the Shiroyama Viewpoint (1000 yen per ticket).
  4. Visit by car
    Visiting the event by car requires an advance reservation for a parking lot which is based on a lottery system. Entries can be submitted between August 15 and 30, 2018 through Peatix. The cost is 3000 yen per regular-sized passenger car. Visitors accessing Shirakawago by car can participate in a lottery-based drawing for a shuttle bus ride to the Shiroyama Viewpoint (1000 yen per ticket). Winter tires and winter driving skills are required to access Shirakawago in winter by car.

Just like during daytime, the Shiroyama Viewpoint is one of the best places to enjoy the sight of the village. However, due to limited space, the only way to access the viewpoint during the light-up event is with a ticket for the shuttle buses that depart from the village center. Tickets cost 1000 yen and must be reserved and paid in advance via the tourist association's website. Guests staying overnight in the village are guaranteed a ticket. The walking trail to the viewpoint will be closed.

Visitors to Shirakawago note that the temperature usually drops to far below freezing during the light-up event, and that roads and trails are covered by snow and sometimes ice. Appropriate clothing, face protection and sturdy shoes are required. Some parts of the village are, furthermore, not well lit with dangerous, uncovered water canals flanking the trails. To reduce the burden on the small village, all tourists are also asked to carry home any garbage they produce.

Access

Hotels around Shirakawago & Gokayama

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Koemon
Atmospheric gassho-zukuri houses to stay overnight.
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Magoemon
One of the largest and most beautiful gassho-zukuri houses to stay overnight.
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Tours and travel services