Japan Diaries 2: Day 15

Day 15 May 31, 2018

Gifu - Nagano Road Trip Day 1

Finally! We're off to another road trip with our Japanese family. This time, we're heading to the Prefectures of Gifu and Nagano for a 4-day adventure. 

Off to Shirakawago via the Tokai-Hokuriku highway

God probably really wanted us to enjoy our trip today as he blessed us with finer weather compared to yesterday's torrential rains. We left home very early as we are in for a long drive going to our first destination which is the historical town of Shirakawago in Gifu Prefecture. 

Stopover at Hirugano Kougen 
The road trip continues!

Hida Tunnel

Since our destination was quite far from Osaka, we had several stopovers like the road station in Taga City in Shiga Prefecture and at Hirugano Kougen (road station) in Gujo City in Gifu Prefecture. What I love about this road trip are the scenic views along the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway and also the numerous tunnels which I don't usually see in the Philippines. Speaking of tunnels, we passed through the Hida Tunnel which is Japan's second-longest tunnel. 

Check out those souvenirs

Can you spot the amango and kuma dishes?

Shirakawago pitstop

Shirakawago here we go!

We arrived at the outskirts of Shirakawa-go an hour past noon. We decided to have our late lunch at the Shirakawago Pitstop where I tried out the exotic amango (fish) and kuma (bear) meat dishes. After the meal, it only took us a few minutes drive to finally reach the historic and picturesque heritage village of Shirakawago. It was truly a dream come true for me and my wife as we have only seen this in postcards and travel magazines. 

Crossing the Deai Bridge

Checking out the stores

The Gassho-style houses up close

Exploring Shirakawago with our Japanese family


Shirakawago manhole cover

The perfect background

The town as seen from the Ogi-machi castle ruin observation area

We explored Shirakawa-go for about two hours and discovered that there is more to the village other than the Gassho-style houses like the historic Myozenji, Deai Bridge, and Ogimachi Park. However, the highlight of the visit was the beautiful panoramic view of the village from the Ogi-machi castle ruin observation area.

Ice cream break!

Did you know that the soon-to-be emperor stayed here?

Time to buy something before we leave

Checking out some souvenirs

Hmmm too many to choose from

Mr. Toshi would have wanted us to stay in the village for the night but they have already booked a room at Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan in Takayama City. After exploring Shirakawago, we drove for more or less an hour to Takayama City to check in the said hotel. 

Heading to Takayama

Mr. Toshi told me that the hotel was known for its onsen, which he said we'd try out later before dinner. To make our experience more memorable and authentic, he told us to wear the yukata provided by the hotel. Thankfully, there was a booklet in the room that teaches foreigners how to properly wear one. 

Our home for the day - Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan

The view from our room

Our attire for the night

First time in an onsen

We met Mr. Toshi and his wife outside their room a few minutes later and we proceeded to the onsen area. Since this was not a mixed onsen, my wife and daughter went with Ms. Taeko while I went with Mr. Toshi. He told me the basic things first-timers should know about before dipping in the onsen. Well at first it was awkward walking naked in the onsen area with all those naked men but after some time, I got used to it and just pretended that nobody is there with me. 

Taste test - Hida Beef

Dinner with our family!

Yum yum!

After that memorable first time in an onsen, we proceeded back to our room where a traditional Japanese meal was served to us. It was also our first time trying one out not to mention it was also our first time trying out the famed Hida beef

Time to sleep!

Overall, today could be dubbed as the "Day of Fulfilment" as most of the things that I saw and did were answers to my travel dreams. Everything was memorable indeed!

Read more:

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NEXT: Japan Diaries 2: Day 16


  1. I love these kind of posts. Reading them transports me to another place. Great photos as well.

    1. Thanks Old Tom! Please do visit Japan in the future.

  2. My husband has gone to Japan a few times. He's in the Air Force. He talks about how clean it is there.

    1. Japan is a very clean country. Given a chance I'd love to live there!

  3. It is wonderful your family was able to spend this time together, it sounds and looks like an amazing vacation.

    1. We really had a grand time during our 2nd visit in Japan. Praying to visit it again soon.

  4. Cool!! I like it! Japan has a great culture!

  5. The picture of your drive and the mountains is beautiful.

  6. What a fantastic day you've had! I like that you did so many local things, it's so much better when you travel with locals, right? That village looks absolutely stunning!

    1. A trip to Japan won't be complete without experiencing things that are authentically Japanese. We were really lucky to have Japanese godparents who are equally adventurous as us.

  7. Japan is such an amazing country to visit!

  8. What a lovely post. Have been to Osaka once and Japan is a place to fall in love.

    1. I do agree! Given a chance I'd marry my wife again here in Japan.

  9. Japan is one of my favorite countries of the world. I will definitely visit it some day!

  10. The tunnels are big and the nature far view photo is amazing. Happy traveling :)

  11. Your Japan adventure is so enviable! The sites are all stunning.

    1. Thanks Ivan. Please do visit Japan given a chance.

  12. Food, location, your narration, pictures and everything is amazing!

  13. You are having so much fun! I want to go too.

  14. The pictures are awesome and the place! Shirakawa go is one of the most picturesque destination in Gifu

    1. That I agree with you 100%. The beauty of Shirakawa-go can't me captured by the camera. You have to see it for yourself.

  15. I have never been to Japan but your pictures and itinerary looks really good.

  16. Wow those photos look stunning! I am jealous :D I have never been to Japan, but it's definitely on my list of countries to visit :)

    1. Please do visit Japan if you have the chance Hooda. =)

  17. I cannot spot amago and kuma dishes but they look delicious!

    1. The amago is the fish and the kuma dish is the soup. =)

  18. I love Onsen! looks like you and your family had a fabulous time. the place looks very scenic

    1. We really did! This is probably one of the best days we had in Japan.

  19. Wonderfully brought to life, I can certainly appreciate the perspective that you brought to this blog.

  20. Hey,

    Thanks for sharing such informative content. Things are well defined and the way of defining is really awesome. Most of the things were unknown for me.

    Thanks for sharing such informative guide.
    Aashirvad Kumar

  21. Wonderful place! The view amazes me very culture and peace for the nature.


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