Every first-time experience is memorable. I have had many wonderful first times in Japan and one of them is about snow(^o^)!
I went to Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Gifu prefecture, with Haruka-chan, another intern at GRIT. When we made our plan for the trip, I expected to see the Autumn scenery there; however, just when I opened my eyes on the bus to Shirakawa-go and saw the white color covered everywhere, I realized that actually I was there for the snow.
We reached Shirakawa bus station at about 6p.m. It was very dark outside and while we were wondering how we could to our guesthouse, a Sri Lanka boy came and said he had been waiting for us then drove us to the guesthouse.
The boy warned us not to go too far at night because it was dark and cold and there might be black bears as well. About 3 years ago, a bear appeared and attacked people at the bus station so everyone had better stay at home in the evening. However, we were starving at that time so we decided to walk to a restaurant just about 1 km from the house for dinner. That was my first time walking in the snow at night. Interesting but not as romantic as what I saw in movies!:)
In the next morning, I woke up and opened the door and then “Wowww!!!” Things started to look like a fairy tale to me. I knew I loved this place already.
We took a bus to go to the observatory deck and could spot many good scenes on our way.
Finally we got to the viewpoint where there were a lot of tourists already. However, we could still find a place for us and saw the amazing scene of the village covered in white snow. It was breathtaking and I just wanted to stay there to look at this scene as long as possible.
Before we started the trip, Yoshida-san said that if I was lucky, I could see snow with red and yellow leaves altogether. And yes, both Haruka and I were lucky girls although we didn’t expect that much!(^o^)
I tried playing with the snow but my hands felt like ice after just a few minutes.
After walking down from the observatory deck, we visited some traditional gassho-zukuri houses in the village. One of them was the Wada house, which is also the largest gassho house in Shirakawa-go, whose part of it was a museum and the other was still for family.
We continuted to walk a long the main road of the village and saw many other interesting houses with their old and unique styles.
Please look at the photo below! In order to take this photo, I and Haruka had to walk for a very long way (even out of the village and near the highway tunnels) under light rain. We kept asking ourselves: “Have we got lost?”, “Should we go back or not?” but we still continued. Even though there was nobody but only 2 of us on the road and it could get dark really quickly, we were too stubborn to give up on finding this 3 houses. I thanked Haruka so much for going with me until we found the right photo spot we needed for the houses, she was such a great partner.
During our trip I have repeated the phrase “fairy tales” a hundred times over and over again that Haruka became sick with hearing that and she could even guess what I was going to say before I opened my mouth:) Frankly, I have to say it again. Shirakawa-go is a real fairy-tale village that you should go at least one time in your life. I think it will be beautiful all year round but the winter scene is miraculous. Just remember to wear enough warm clothes if you don’t want to become a snowman (or iceman?!) there.
Looking forward to coming back here in another season!