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Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 08:10
Hi All,

Has anyone tried renting a car for a day and combining Gattan Go (canyon course) with Shirakawago or Shirakawago + Ainokura? We have primary aged school kids who may get bored spending too much time looking at gassho houses.

We will be based in Takayama where we will pick up/return car. It will be in early July summer time when it's hot.

Gattan Go (Canyon course) booking times are 9am earliest or 2:30pm latest so we thought we could pick up car (8am earliest is when rental car shop opens) & head to Gattan Go first OR the other way round head to Shirakawago first then rush to Gattan Go by 2:30pm.

As we do not have time to fit these 2 destinations over 2 days separately, we will most likely give Gattan Go a miss and self guide by Nohi bus to Shirakawago only if the above plan is not recommended.

Looking forward to your suggestions, thanks!

by Lee (guest)  

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 09:24
Personally, going by when I went to Takayama with my then 6 year old (who had recently finished 1st grade) I would do the canyon course over Shirakawa Go/Ainokura. If you want to take your kids to see Gassho Zukuri save yourself the travel times and just visit Hida no Sato Village in Takayama. It was more compelling and had some decent interactive activities for kids. We were even there on a Thursday when most of the craft exhibits were closed and it still has some activities. My child loved trying all the traditional games. I personally found Shirakawa Go boring so I did not bring my child there when we went to Takayama.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 09:36


It looks like depending on the ages and heights and number of children vs. people in your party you might not be able to do the Gattan Go, which is too bad, I know my kid would love it but my husband doesn't usually travel with us.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 10:03
Thanks rkold, my kids are 8 and 10 years old. We think the canyon course is worth going but not the town course. My 8yo is too short to pedal but she can be in the passenger seat, which means I will be left behind at Gattan Go office waiting for my husband to return with the 2 kids.

Our plans were to pretty much visit the view point on top of the hill & Kanda House at Ogimachi, walk around & have a nice lunch. We don't have a great desire to go into Gasshozukuri Minkaen Outdoor Museum as we assume these museums are a bit artificial. Assuming the outdoor Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village at Takayama is similarly set up?

We think the Nohi bus tour to Shirakawago + Gokayama (with lunch) is too expensive for 4 of us so was considering car rental & tagging on Gattan Go with whatever time we want to spend at Ogimachi. If we are having fun, we have the option to swing by Ainokura as well. As always, tough decision trying to balance the adults' desire to see unesco world heritage sites vs keeping the kids happy. Summer is not the prettiest time to see the gassho houses but we don't mind if it means less people.

We are also going onwards to Mt Norikura/Kamikochi/Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route so I'm not sure whether Gattan Go Canyon course is worth the detour combined with Shirakawago or cutting Gattan Go out altogether.

Anymore ideas anyone?
by Lee (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 13:07

That is the tour I did in February 2010. At the time it was in Japanese only, because it was 2010. It was scenic enough with the snow, but I also see lots of snow all Winter long so it's not terribly exciting. I guess I have tastes more like a child because I thought Shirakawa Go was a huge tourist trap. It seemed to mostly consist of shops and restaurants and while I appreciate the people who live there deserve to make a living, I didn't find it terribly compelling. I found the quieter Hida no Sato village more compelling because I thought the exhibits discussing life in the Gassho Zukuri and showing examples of tools used in silk production on top of the traditional games you could try for kids was just more fun.

I was in the area in late June in 2017, but there were plenty of large tour groups. I was staying at the Associa and there was a huge bus load of Dutch tourists there as well. None of them seemed interested in the onsen, which is seriously the best part of the Associa, as I only saw them at breakfast and exploring Takayama's city centre. They were either going onto Shirakawa Go or had just departed from there.

I went to Kamikochi in late June 2018. It's quite pretty and was rather cold.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 18:07
Thanks rkold, I will look more closely into Hida no Santo on their website. Perhaps we take it easy in Takayama and spend a full day there combining Hida no Santo & Takayama town itself having only arrived 6pm the day before. Then, onwards journey to our Norikura/Kamikochi plans the next day.

Reason I was quite keen to self guide to Shirakawago by Nohi bus (if car rental didn't make sense) was to make use of the Nohi 4-day pass which covers most of our destinations.

If we skip Shirakawago, I can downgrade to a 2 day Nohi bus pass. We are finding this trip to Kiso Valley/Takayama/Hirayu Onsen/Norikura/Kamikochi/Alpine Route quite tricky to manouver. Due to heavy reliance on bus, 1 Week JR pass doesn't make sense. The Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass would nearly work for us but 5 days is too rushed to get thru our itinery (7 nights stay booked currently). Do you know of any pass over 7 consecutive days covering central Japan accessing from Kyoto & back?

Last question, any fun things for kids to do in Kanazawa? We will stop by as a day trip on the way back to Kyoto from Toyama.

Thank you!
by Lee (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 20:34
You initially mentioned Ainokura. I enjoyed Ainokura quite a lot.
The folk museum in Takayama is fine (I went too a few years later) but itfs an open air museum. Itfs much easier to reach, but not a real village.
I havenft been to Shirakawa but it seems quite crowded, so if you rent a car take advantage of it and go to Ainokura instead of Shirakawa. (And one Gassho village is really all you need).

Enjoy your trip!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/19 23:43

If it's not too much trouble, perhaps you could give your full itinerary because it might be easier helping you figure out what makes the most sense. Also, it does help to know what your children like to do. For me, knowing my child, I know long days of transport is not high up on her list of things she likes. When I was alone, I day tripped from Kyoto to Fukuoka to see sakura. I would not do the same trip with my daughter even if it was sakura season.

I've not been to Ainokura, just Gokayama. Again it was pretty with all the snow, but I've not been in a rush to go back. I think @LikeBike and I agree about how awesome Hirayu onsen is, though I've not taken my daughter yet.

My daughter loved the garden in Kanazawa (another June 2018 visit), though her favorite of the well known gardens she has been to is Ritsuin in Takamatsu. If your children don't have one already, I found giving her a camera of her own has made a huge difference for travel. During her first trip at 5, she spent a lot of time saying she was ready to go when we were visiting temples and shrines. On her second trip at 6, she had her own camera and it has made an enormous difference. I really enjoyed Myoryuji (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4205.html) Ninjadera in Kanazawa. My daughter did not. She wanted to actually try out all the ninja hiding spaces vs. just seeing them and hearing someone talk about them. We were there on a Monday so missed the Art Museum. I've been to several places in Kanazawa before she was born. Mine also loved just getting ice cream, they have gold leaf and platinum leaf ice cream there. It's cheezy but fun. One reason we didn't accomplish as much in Kanazawa was it was hot! It was more a dry heat than Kyoto (the same goes for Takayama) but it was still hot during the day. Kamikochi and Nagano were actually pretty cool. Matsumoto was hot our arrival day, but when we returned post Kamikochi it felt lovely.

This year we're trying more of Tohoku. Our current itinerary is: 5 nights in Kyoto with a day trip somewhere with my friend who lives in Osaka. (possibly Himeji, possibly the Expo Center, possibly Nara again.) I've been to Himeji and Nara multiple times, she's only been to Nara. We're then doing 3 nights in Sakurai to explore that area and to try ninja training. We're then going to Tokyo Disney Sea because we like rides, then spend several days in Tokyo before heading north to Hanamaki onsen and a self drive tour of parts of Tohoku. I really want to follow in @Mfedley's footsteps and visit the Osarizawa mine and I'm also attached to seeing the hydrangea forest near Ichinoseki and possibly the lavender fields near Yokote. I'm hoping it will be a little cooler in Tohoku. I've been to Towadako twice but not Tazawako.

We're leaving for Japan in the near future My husband doesn't travel with us, so it's always a compromise between planning for my daughter and planning for me. This is her 4th trip to Japan, and we always try to do a few big sights in Kyoto and mix it up with more low key activities. This trip we're looking into some craft classes. :)

I hope you find this helpful!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/20 06:40
Sure, I feel bad posting this on the forum as quite unrelated to my first query but here goes:

DAY 1: Kyoto to Nagoya - Toyota techno museum, onwards to Magome for overnight stay
DAY 2: Magome to Tsumago walk, catch 3pm Nohi bus from Tsumago to Takayama, overnight at Takayama
DAY 3: free day at Takayama with option to go to Shirakawago/Ainokura (either with rental car or with Nohi 4- day pass which only goes to Shirakawago), 2nd overnight at Takayama
DAY 4: leave Takayama for Hirayu Onsen with option to hike up Mt Norikura, overnight at Hirayu Onsen
DAY 5: Kamikochi day trip, 2nd overnight at Hirayu Onsen
DAY 6: Nohi bus tour to Alpine Route via Ogizawa, overnight at Toyama
DAY 7: free day at Toyama with option to go Kurobe Gorge or maybe Gattan Go Canyon course??, 2nd overnight at Toyama
DAY 8: Toyama to Kanazawa, explore Kanazawa, onwards journey back to Kyoto

My husband's preference is not to drive rental car but rely on public transport. We enjoy nature, hence, organising lot of walks despite the heat but hopefully cooler near the Alps. Our younger 8 yo is a good walker, some ways fitter than our 10 yo! We find a mixture of nature and museums work really well for the kids. Ie. Our last Japan trip, kids visited Railway Museum, Manga Museum in Kyoto, Kaiyukan & Tempozan area attractions in Osaka, Miraikan, Sony Museum, karaoke in Tokyo and we just throw in a mix of culture, temples and walks. This 2nd trip to Japan for the family, we are planning kid friendly Universal Studios & baseball game in Osaka & Taiko drum lesson in Kyoto. We generally avoid theme parks but thought we will take kids to USJ for a treat this trip to see Harry Potter.

Thanks rkold.

by Lee (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Gattan Go Canyon + Shirakawago by car? 2019/5/20 08:18
Just to add kids' interest:

Our 10yo boy: loves technology & all modern japan has to offer

Our 8yo girl: easy going, likes everything her bro likes and enjoys her art & craft & science

Both are outdoorsy and fascinated with public transport & cool tech stuff in Japan

We generally want to expose them to see/do things unique to Japan.

Thanks rkold
by Lee (guest) rate this post as useful

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