Shirakawa-go Winter Guide And How To Join The Magical Winter Illumination Festival

shirakawa go winter guide

The most anticipated season in Shirakawa-go!

Every winter, the charming historic village of Shirakawa-go transforms into a magical snowy wonderland. Visitors are treated with sceneries of charming A-shaped traditional homes nestled amid a mountainous landscape, covered in thick blankets of snow. 

On selected days during the wintertime, special illumination events are organised by the village where many of the houses in Ogimachi are lit up during the evening. Resulting in an enchanting backdrop that’s almost too stunning to be true, more and more visitors are venturing to this UNESCO World Heritage Site to witness it firsthand.

Cover image credit: Original image via M Reza Faisal for Flickr

Shirakawa-go winter light-up dates

shirakawa-go winter

Photo Credit: Rocky T for Flickr

With the exception of one Monday, the winter illumination festival will be taking place on selected Sundays in January and February from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. Here are the dates in 2020 where Ogimachi in Shirakawa-go will be illuminated:

  • January 13, 2020 (Monday, Japan national holiday)

  • January 19, 2020

  • January 26, 2020

  • February 2, 2020

  • February 9, 2020

  • February 16, 2020

Advance reservations now required

shirakawago gassho village winter

Photo Credit: Yu-Li Lin for Flickr

Due to an influx of visitors to Shirakawa-go to experience this popular winter illumination in recent years, there is now a limitation on the number of visitors allowed to enter the village. This is to prevent overcrowding in the village and to ensure that all visitors can be accommodated and have a pleasant experience. 

shiroyama observation deck

Photo Credit: sonotoki for Flickr

To ensure that you’re able to visit the village during the winter light-up events, make sure to reserve in advance and secure your spot. Here are three ways to plan your visit to the Shirakawa-go winter illumination:

1. Join a tour – The best and hassle-free way to secure your entry to the Shirakawa-go Light-Up event. Klook an exclusive Shirakawago Illumination Wonderland trip from Nagoya or Takayama for easy access. The trip from Nagoya even includes Hida beef for lunch and sushi for dinner!

2. Travel by car – Parking spaces have to be reserved in advance on a first-come first-serve basis at JPY4,000 per sedan-size vehicle. Do note that winter tires and experience driving in heavy snow are required! You can get your Japan rental car from Klook. 

3. Book an overnight stay – You can also reserve an overnight stay at one of the farmhouses in the village. However, since there is a limited number of rooms, reservations granted are based on a lottery system. Entries for this year have closed by the end of August. 

Come prepared with winter essentials

Photo Credit: Colin Tsoi for Flickr

It goes without saying that being prepared with the right winter outfit and shoes are important! The weather will be extremely cold and pathways may be slippery, so do dress appropriately for the season and make sure to put on winter shoes with good traction.

Bring along accessories like gloves, scarves, earmuffs, hand warmers and any other useful items as temperatures may drop below freezing. It’s also recommended to bring a flashlight when walking around Shirakawa-go at night!

Can’t visit during the winter season?

No fret because Shirakawa-go is equally charming all year round! With beautiful scenery at every turn of the season, you won’t be missing out at all no matter when you visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure to read up on the Shirakawa-go travel guide with insider tips on the best way to get there, must-eat delicacies and more!

Save your ang pao with Klook’s Chinese New Year Sale

Might we suggest a promo so you can save big on your 2020 travels? Plus, you won’t need to spend all your ang paos in one place! With no minimum purchase, use promo code <LUCKY88> for PHP 88 OFF any Klook activity. For country-specific deals, you can check out the deals above to find out how big you can save this year.

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