Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winter wonderland in Shirakawago, Japan.

On 3rd January 2018, I managed to make my way to Shirakawago (UNESCO Heritage) area in Japan. It was around 3 degrees in the early morning in Osaka when we boarded the Thunderbird train from Osaka to Kanazawa. Flurry bits of snow was already flying everywhere when we reached Kanazawa station. It took us nearly 3 hours on the train from Osaka. Quickly I headed to the bus depot and got our reservation bus tickets to Shirakawago. It was fully booked and reserved. Thank goodness we had assistance from my AirB&B host who is a lovely helpful Japanese guy who helped me to reserve the bus seats. We took the 11.30 am bus and within an hour and half, we reached the Shirakawa village- all looking white and frozen. Thick snow was everywhere and there were many tourists as well. Tour busses were lined up all along the bus station and people were also queuing up to board the bus to the observatory deck. 

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My parents managed to hold onto the line while my brother and I quickly snapped some photos while checking out the main village area. Icy roads and slippery as well since we didn't wear special hiking boots or so. It was a good thing my Merrell shoes got me everywhere but my toes were quite frozen even I had woolen socks.  

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The bus took us up and down the observatory place was 200 Yen per person per way. It saves you from hiking on the slippery snowy slopes. The snow was falling heavily and we couldn't see a thing. We looked around and had no place to hide except the little shop situated near the observatory deck. In fact we had our quick lunch- the bento set inside the bus because there was nowhere we could hang out for food. The Shirakawago village is actually real homes for the locals and some are not open for public. The WADE house is open with an entrance fee.

My parents took the earlier bus down to the main village while my brother and I hung around at the deck. I realized the bus took another 20 minutes to come up and the snow have stopped falling means I can snap better clearer photos from the deck. The rest of the tourists also followed my footsteps in running towards the deck area and quickly snapping the photos before the snow fell again. 

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We walked around the village hoping to find small cafe and restaurants but there were mostly stalls selling buns, souvenirs and etc... We wandered around and snapped more photographs before going back to the bus station which was choc-a-block of tourists.

We couldn't even find a place to sit. So my brother and I walked around and found a nice cafe with some coffee and cake. Wow! That was heaven as it was perfectly heated and it's a solace for us than the cramp tiny bus station. Our bus only leaves at 5.40 pm means it's going to be dark very soon when it's winter time. 

It was a tiring day for us as we travel led mostly on the road and on train. By the time we reached Osaka station at 11-ish pm, it was nearly the last subway train from Umeda heading back to our place Hanazonocho. I was down with slight flu, cough and runny nose but nothing prevented me from enjoying the beautiful winter sceneries at Shirakawago.

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