Amazing as Japan’s metropolises are, after spending enough time in some of the most densely populated spots on the planet, urban fatigue starts to set in. There’s nothing likea getaway to the countryside to refresh your spirits after one too many days scurrying around downtown in packed train and subway cars.
The Shirakawa-go district, located in Gifu Prefecture, is close enough to Tokyo or Osaka that it makes an easy weekend escape for residents, as well as a simple side trip for overseas tourists crisscrossing the country. In terms of atmosphere, though, Shirakawa-go is worlds away from Japan’s largest cities.
The area around Shirakawa-go isn’t developed enough to warrant a train station, so for visitors without a car getting there involves a 50-minute bus ride from Takayama, the nearest significantly-sized rail-accessible town. Infrequent bus service is also available from Nagoya, but considering the three-hour ride this entails, your posterior will probably thank you for taking the train as far as possible to Takayama instead.