Winter 2013: Let it snow in Gokayama


This trip was basically decided a day or two before my winter break. My first plan was Tokyo to visit friends but I have been to Tokyo, in fact I lived there for 2 years and I really want to see something new and lots of snow.

I finally booked my accommodation the night before the tunnel hike and during the hike J decided to sell his last Seishun 18 ticket for 2100 yen , so now I’m all set. I still need to get a returned transportation and ways to get around Takayama area. I have no idea yet but a few text message to JL and he was able to give me a link to Nouhi Bus for all the transportation that I needed.

After my 10 hours train ride, I took care of all the transportation and by the time I was done it was almost 5 PM. It was getting colder, darker and I am getting hungry 🙂 After getting direction for a local supermarket from the local tourist information in front of the station I found out that it was along the way to the hotel/guesthouse. A few minutes later I found the place got settled in and had dinner. I was very excited to get there just before 6 , so I can still make it to the Hida No Sato light up event only to be disappointed that it was already finish. The next one is scheduled on the New Year. There is no point of going back to town anymore since most of the places of interest were already closed. Took some of the pamphlet from the hotel and decided to read a little bit before calling it a day.

The Next day, I was so excited to see the whole place. My tour bus leaves around 8:30am from the terminal so I left the hotel early to see some early morning views and I was not disappointed.

Around Takayama
Beautiful Sunrise for a Beautiful day.

Around Takayama
Outside the guesthouse, I found a park called “The City of Denver Park” all covered in snow 🙂

I got to the bus terminal , paid my reservation and a few minutes later we were on our way to Ainokura, Gokayama Toyama Prefecture.

I don’t like joining tours except when it’s food related but this one from Nouhi Bus is highly recommended. They have a tour guide but she/he only talks about the destination on the bus, once you get to the location you are on your own and you are just given time to return to the bus.

I was really amazed by the guide, the moment the bus left the terminal until we reach Ainokura which is about an hour away, she was talking non-stop. Some of the information though were pretty interesting but I just wished that she would have shut up for a few minutes so that I can enjoy the bus ride quietly and enjoy the scenic view were are taking although for most part of it we are inside the tunnel.

The guide told us that the best spot to view the village was on top of the hill and the trail is just at the back of the parking lot.

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As soon I heard that, I have to go there no matter and as soon as the bus stop I was the one of the first passenger to go directly the hill. Snow hike. Can you hear the excitement in my voice? 🙂

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Panoramic View of the trail. It’s not even visible though.

As soon as I got a little higher, this was the view that greeted me. Beautiful
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and this
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I was one of the few people who reach the hill first so I had a few moments of peace and quiet , just enjoying the scenery. It was lovely. I forgot how cold it was.

We were given an hour to explore the village which was more than enough.
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The snow covered tree and the village
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A closer look at the snow covered houses
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Up close and personal with one of the houses
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This is actually a real village where people live in this houses so we cannot just go in and look inside but it was nice of the village folk to allow us tourist to take pictures of their houses.
We were warned not to get closer to the houses, not because it was private but because of the danger of snow from the roof.

Some have some modern look on them now
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A smaller one
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I think this one allows people inside
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The mountain, the snow and the snow covered houses
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There are two shops which sells trinkets and local produce including a Nihonshu(sake) made locally.
The village was really beautiful and very remote and I could just imagine what it would look in other season. If given a chance again, I would definitely go back there.

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