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Don’t Miss This Day Trip to Shirakawa-go, Japan

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Shirakawa-go in Gifu

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When travelling to Japan, a place I’ve long wanted to go to, I was either excited for places or really excited for places on my itinerary. Shirakawa village was one of those destinations I was really excited by. Having seen photos of the traditional village, I made sure my recent trip allowed me to visit, with a day trip to Shirakawa-go from Kanazawa the best option I had.

Even with high expectations, visiting Shirakawa village lived up to the hype. Not everything went my way, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending several hours wandering around this cultural landmark and seeing it with my own eyes. Shirakawa-go may actually be one of those places that are even scenic than the photos make them out to be. If you’re in this part of Japan, here’s why you can’t miss adding this day trip to your plans.

 

Doing a Day Trip to Shirakawa-go

With a day trip like this, I think sorting out the logistics is so important that I’m going to take you through up front. Shirakawa-go is located up in the mountains and its remote location complicates the process of getting there. And one important note; when planning a visit, don’t confuse it with Shirakawa, a town in south Gifu. Always look for Shirakawa-go.

Due to its mountain location, going by bus or with a tour are your only options when not driving yourself. For a day trip to Shirakawa-go from Kanazawa, buses take just under 1.5 hours. The timetable for the bus is here, with buses to/from the village spread-out across the day. The bus terminal at Shirakawa village is at one end of the village, close to many of Shirakawa’s guesthouses.

The important thing to understand about taking the bus to Shirakawa village is the need to make a reservation. You need to reserve tickets on most buses and they sell out quickly, so organize it as soon as you arrive in Kanazawa. I left it to two days in advance, and was only able to get tickets for an afternoon visit. Oh and you can use a Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass for the bus tickets, only needing to reserve your seat!

1695207693 641 Dont Miss This Day Trip to Shirakawa go Japan

Now, while the bus route from Kanazawa to Shirakawa stops at Gokayama along the way, it’s not as simple as that. The Gokayama stop isn’t both drop-off and pick-up, meaning you can’t use it hopping on/off at each village. Instead, you’ll need to take a local bus, the information for which I couldn’t find.

Also worth knowing though, is that this isn’t the only bus route to Shirakawa-go. Buses also leave from Takayama and Takaoka, providing alternatives from the other direction to visiting Shirakawa-go from Kanazawa.

 

About Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go day trip

With that out of the way, let’s look at what makes Shirakawa-go so special. Because it is a special place and not just a picturesque one. Shirakawa is a historic village in the mountains of the Gifu Prefecture with ties to silkworm cultivation that has escaped modern development. Thanks to its untouched lifestyle and buildings, it’s earned the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A quirk thing worth mentioning to avoid confusion is that Ogimachi is the specific village you want to visit. Because Ogimachi is part of the Shirakawa-go region, it’s just generally referred to as either Shirakawa Village or Shirakawa-go. There is more of Shirakawa-go beyond Ogimachi, but the houses and farmland you want to see are all in Ogimachi.

Shirakawa-go

When visiting Shirakawa-go, some things worth knowing include:

  • You can find tourist information at either the Bus Terminal or the car park near the Heritage Museum. Pick up a map and pamphlet, as you won’t find information posted about.
  • I had almost three hours at Shirakawa and it was more than I need to be honest. Two hours would be ideal, but being there late in the afternoon was nice as it was much quieter then.
  • As for when to go, spring is an interesting option. You do miss out on the snow and autumn colours, but the bursts of blossom on the trees liven up the rest of the nature that hasn’t woken from its winter slumber.
  • Taking a guided tour may look expensive, but return bus tickets are actually a bit costly (¥2600 each way), so taking a tour like this may be worth it for some people.

1695207694 722 Dont Miss This Day Trip to Shirakawa go Japan

 

Japan’s Gassho-Style Houses

Gassho Style Houses

The defining feature of Shirakawa-go is the village’s traditional houses, known as Gassho-style houses. Gassho translates as “praying hands” and refers to the shape of their typical roofs. The style relates to the large farmhouses topped by thatched roofs with a steep pitch, designed to help shed snow, preventing it from building up and seeping into or through the roof.

Gassho-style houses aren’t the only type of traditional house in Japan, simply the style found in Gifu Prefecture. And Shirakawa-go isn’t the only place in Japan or even this region where you can see Gassho-style houses. They’re also found at Gokayama, Shirakawa’s counterpart in Toyama Prefecture, as well as at the Hida Folk Village at Takayama, also in Gifu.

Since Shirakawa-go isn’t the only place where these buildings existed, what makes it special is the volume of these houses still standing. I imagine it is the village’s remote location that allowed them to preserve the style of so many homes.

1695207695 18 Dont Miss This Day Trip to Shirakawa go Japan

What’s also special is that it’s a living village. That residents haven’t left it for bigger towns and cities is important to. Reading about the village’s history, the local economy thrived on the extraction of saltpetre for a time and now benefits from tourism.

The effects of tourism here are painfully obvious, with many houses now serving as guesthouses, shops, restaurants, and museums. Hopefully, tourism is managed there to prevent it ruining what makes Shirakawa village special. That said, by staying in the afternoon, I was able to see local kids running around and playing, showing it hasn’t lost its lived in feel.

 

Walking through Ogimachi Village

Shirakawa-go in Gifu, Japan

The main thing to do during a Shirakawa-go day trip is to walk around Ogimachi village. There’s no specific route you need to take through Ogimachi, so feel free to wander. While Ogimachi isn’t huge, you do realise it’s larger than you think as you walk around.

To explore the village, the main road right through is a natural starting point. But the main road is a little light on Gassho-style houses early on. Instead, I’d encourage you to deviate down the back streets or head out onto the paths and boardwalks that run through the fields. It’s these minor paths in the fields especially where you get the most rural feel from the village.

Ogimachi Village

 

Wada House Museum

Wada House Gassho Style Village

With the focus of Shirakawa village being its traditional houses, it’s no surprise that some have been opened to the public. Wada House is one such house museum and the largest Gassho-style house in the village. I definitely recommend taking a look inside if you’ve never been inside one before. Like each of the smaller museums, entry to the Wada House costs ¥300.

Inside the house you’ll find displays with information on the Wada family who have had long ties with Shirakawa. Yaemon Wada was even the village’s first mayor in 1888. There’s also other information relating to the village’s history, although most of it is in Japanese, but there photos from its “Water Hose Festival”, where the village’s fire prevention system of powerful hoses is tested.

The main reason to visit though is to see what the typical layout is like inside. Downstairs you see rooms with tatami mats and a section with the hearth. Head upstairs and you get to see the rafters, with their shiny black wood and all the ropes binding the roof together. There’s even a window for an elevated view of the neighbouring houses.

 

Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck

Shirakawa Village View

For views of Shirakawa-go, there’s really one place that gives you the view you’re looking for. The Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck may not show much sign of a castle these days, but it provides the ultimate panorama over the village.

To reach the observation point, you’ll need to walk up at the northern end of the village. There are actually two ways up, but the path north of the bus terminal was closed to the public, possibly due to the time of year. While there was no snow around, the waves of rain may have deteriorated the track.

Taking the main road up to the viewpoint isn’t too demanding, even for people with not much fitness. At the top, the views of Shirakawa-go are like ones you’d see on postcards and frequently online. You see all of the village, its farmland, and the main road carving through. But you also get to see the surrounding mountains looming nearby, reminding you how remote this place is.

Shirakawa-go day trip

 

Shō River

Shō River in Gifu

It may not be the focus of a visit to Shirakawa village, but you can’t ignore the presence of the Shō River. It separates the heart of the village from the Heritage Museum and the main carpark, with a suspension bridge joining the two banks. While the bridge is fun to walk across like any suspension bridge, the river scenery is just stunning.

So once you’ve seen everything you want to at Ogimachi, take a walk down to one of the bridges over the run. There you’ll get a view of the almost-turquoise river, the rocky cliffs along the banks, and more of a forest setting. The view felt like something more fitting to Canada than the alpine areas I visited in Japan.

 


Have you heard of Shirakawa village in Gifu before? Would you try visiting in spring or prefer to wait to see it in winter covered in snow? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Wayde N. Thabalanz is a 2016-17 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction and a 2015 NYFA Fellow in Poetry. His work has appeared in Best New Poets 2015, The Los Angeles Review.

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Cultural destinations

These Are The Top 7 Beach Destinations In 2024 According To Travel And Leisure

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mallorca spain coastline

A comprehensive list of the top destinations for 2024 has been put together by the Travel and Leisure experts.

Numerous magazines have released their favorites for the upcoming year, and they all appear very different. While some are fully off the grid, others are popular hotspots.

In the end, you have to determine what interests you enough to plan a fantastic trip. Travel & Leisure divided up their best recommendations by category rather than covering all 50 locations.

Let’s examine the top 7 “beach vibes” for 2024 as listed by Travel & Leisure:
Florida’s Anna Maria Island
There are several locations in Florida that make for the perfect vacation, which is why the state continues to draw enormous numbers of visitors.

Miami and other major American beaches and cultural centers are located in this sunny state. However, a lot of people decide to take the ideal family vacation to Orlando.

Tampa is one place that gets overlooked despite having so many beautiful beaches close by. Travel and Leisure declares Anna Maria Island to be the greatest in Florida because of its friendly locals, breathtaking sunsets, and lack of skyscrapers that obstruct the view.

Your stay will be more enjoyable and accessible with new hotels and more flights to nearby Sarasota.
Italy’s Campania coast
This striking area is experiencing a hotel boom on some of the most picturesque coastline in the nation.

With four destinations to pick from for your European beach getaway—Amalfi, Positano, Capri, and Sorrento—Coastal Campania offers quadruple the pleasure.

Italy’s breathtaking beaches will wow you; many visitors associate the nation with ancient sites and excessive wine and pasta consumption.

You can still indulge in excessive amounts of delectable food and drink locally produced wine, but why not do it against the breathtaking backdrop of azure waters, undulating hills, and classic architecture?
There are several hotel alternatives available to travelers, ranging from luxurious accommodations with cliffside pools to intimate boutique styles.

Soon, American and Delta will begin offering direct service to the neighboring Naples.
There isn’t a single Costa Rican beach that Travel and Leisure recommended visiting in 2024. T and L essentially advise you to “just pick one” beach because they are all so lovely.

Any beach in Costa Rica is a good choice, however some are busier and more well-known than others.
While some may choose for more quiet spots to have a wonderful beach all to themselves, many small towns have a thriving surfing community that gets together to surf the waves.

Travelers adore visiting the land of pura vida, despite the fact that it is usually more expensive than nearby nations.

Travel & Leisure also adore it. Indeed, they have selected Costa Rica as the “Destination of the Year” for 2024. Whether traveling alone, with company, or on a family vacation, everyone will find their place in this stunning nation.

There are plenty of enjoyable excursions to discover the breathtaking beauty and culture of the country, and lodging options ranging from cozy hostels to opulent hotels are easily accessible.
Dominica  Over the past year, Dominica has been increasingly popular. Travel is on the rise, and more people are looking to discover bright new places to visit.

This Caribbean island features picture-perfect waterfalls, verdant jungles, and unspoiled beaches, making it a veritable paradise.

trekking enthusiasts should prepare their trekking shoes, as the breathtaking Waitukubuli National Trail spans more than 100 miles across the island.

More lodging facilities, including upscale establishments like InterContinental, are opening up. A major lure for tourists is sustainability, with charming eco-lodges.
Hawaii Island 🙠
We are all aware of the destruction Hawaii experienced earlier this year. After a wildfire decimated Maui, there has been debate in the travel industry over whether or not it is still safe to visit.

Travel and Leisure claims that Hawaii is prepared for tourists to return. Without requiring a passport, Hawaii offers one of the most unusual environments.

Stunning beaches, breathtaking waterfalls, and cliffside vistas are just a few of the main attractions for tourists.

Travelers are urged by the tourism sector to treat any island as if it were their own home and to be careful of their stay.
Mexico’s Los Cabos
With the cleanest beaches in all of Latin America, Los Cabos is among the most picturesque locations in Mexico.

“Is Cabo worth the price?” is the query that vacationers should be asking themselves. The top hotels, according to reports, are now charging an astounding $1000 a night on average!

With its boujee resorts, immaculate beaches, and exciting entertainment, Cabo is among the most opulent vacation spots that are accessible to most people.

In 2024, more opulent resorts are planned to open, and more flights are leaving from American airports.
Spain’s Mallorca
This gorgeous island in Spain is ideal for a romantic beach vacation. It is the location of the lovely city of Palma, which is overlooked in favor of Spain’s other major towns. Outside of the city are some of the most tranquil beaches the country has to offer, complete with dazzling waters, wide-open areas, and relaxed residents.

In between beach days, explore the amazing downtown streets for an abundance of tapas and mouthwatering wine. From boutique lodging to a Four Seasons resort, the quaint hotels will win your heart.

With United’s new direct route from Newark, getting to Mallorca is now easier than ever.

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Cultural destinations

These Are 5 Of The Top Destinations In Southeast Asia’s Cheapest Country

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Aerial View Of A Beach Area In Nha Trang, Central Vietnam, Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, sometimes abbreviated as SEA, is the ideal destination for backpackers.

Vietnam is a very diverse subcontinent where foreigners are welcomed and hyperinflated Western prices are not a regular concern. This year, its popularity has increased due to lax visitation laws and less bureaucratic tourist visa processes, but no nation has shown itself to be as fashionable as Vietnam.

This tropical treasure borders the turquoise East Sea and is considered the cheapest destination in the South East Asia region. With extremely low consumer costs and a devalued national currency that enhances the spending power of the typical Westerner, it’s your best choice for an off-the-beaten-path tropical holiday that won’t break the bank.

After spending a lot of time exploring Vietnam, we have selected the top five places to go this winter that are affordable and rich in culture:
Mui Ne
Mui Ne, a tranquil fishing hamlet in South Vietnam, is undoubtedly the most underappreciated coastal location in the nation since it offers culture and wellness all in one place.

It’s got an emerging development strip with new resorts opening every few months, including the delightful boutique hotel The Anam that we featured earlier this year, as well as pristine reserves, sand dunes, family-run eateries, and historic Cham towers that date back hundreds of years.

With nightly rates as low as $114 and a prime location near Mui Ne’s high street rather than in a far-off place away from the activity, The Anam is the perfect starting point for visitors wishing to explore the town and the larger province.

The area is well-known for its seafood, particularly its fish sauce, and there are several authentic restaurants outside the resort complex that serve Vietnamese specialties, like rice noodle soup and sea snails, for as little as $5.
As Hoi An
Hoi An, the crown jewel of Vietnam, is a superbly maintained medieval river port with dwellings that have a yellow tint, winding alleyways, and a history that dates back more than 2,000 years.

A reminder of the successive colonization periods and the multicultural nature of Hoi An, it is situated in Central Vietnam, halfway between the country’s two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Its eclectic architecture, influenced by Chinese, Japanese, and European styles, is evident throughout its bustling streets, which are home to medieval Sino pagodas, striking displays of colorful, brightly painted paper lanterns, a Japanese temple bridge that spans a picturesque canal, and several French-built civic structures that date back to the French Indochina period.

Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit location if you’re traveling from North to South Vietnam or the other way around. Like other Vietnamese hotspots, it fits your budget—a three-day stay typically costs about $50, not including lodging.

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and the political and cultural center of the former capitalist state of South Vietnam. Despite no longer serving as the country’s capital, it is still known by this name.

Still the most Westernized and outward-looking city in the nation, HCMC has changed with the times thanks to the support of a strong expat population, making it one of the top investment and business destinations in Southeast Asia.

HCMC, home to 8.4 million people, is a popular destination for digital nomads and young entrepreneurs. With its impressive French colonial architecture, war museums, and exciting nightlife, it’s a vibrant city that visitors shouldn’t miss when exploring Vietnam.

Cu Chi Tunnels, used by Viet combatants during the War, the Independence Palace, the former South Vietnam Government’s headquarters, and the Notre Dame Cathedral, a French Neo-Gothic structure, are just a few of the city’s top attractions.

When compared to other major cities in the subcontinent, HCMC is surprisingly affordable. Budget tourists could anticipate to pay a meager $30 per day, not including lodging.
Ha Trang
With over 500,000 residents, Nha Trang is one of Vietnam’s largest cities and the nation’s go-to sunny spot. Holidaymakers tend to flock there during the peak travel season, which runs from November to February when less precipitation is recorded.

Nha Trang is the new favorite digital nomad destination in Southeast Asia. It is another well-liked beach resort and bustling coastal metropolis lining the East Sea, where tall hotel towers and skyscrapers are bounded by a long stretch of white sand.

Not so well-known Nha Trang is fast rising to prominence as one of Southeast Asia’s most sought-after options for a seaside city break, thanks to its array of opulent hotels surrounding the shoreline and its abundance of top-notch restaurants serving traditional seafood from Central Vietnam.

In general, visitors should budget only $41 a day on average in Nha Trang, plus an extra $27 per night for lodging.

In addition to the stunning beaches and commercial malls, tourists may fully immerse themselves in Vietnamese culture by visiting the nearby Po Nagar ruins, an old temple that was established as early as the eighth century by the now-extinct Cham civilization.

Hanoi
A discussion of Vietnam’s most interesting travel locations would be incomplete without discussing Hanoi, which served as the country’s capital after the Reunification War and is now regarded as the country’s second-most important commercial and cultural hub after Ho Chi Minh City in the South.

The main draws of Hanoi are its broad, green boulevards in the European style and its greater degree of social development in comparison to other less developed areas of Vietnam:

Being the government’s capital and a major financial center, it has greater infrastructure than the typical Vietnamese city and is much cleaner, with less hectic traffic.

Not only is Hanoi a popular destination because of this, but visitors also enjoy it because of its high concentration of historic temples, French colonial landmarks, and large, open green spaces that offer a brief respite from the fast-paced city life.

Furthermore, because Hanoi has connections to off-beaten routes in North Vietnam, travelers frequently use it as a base for exploring the region’s wild nature, which includes stunning mountain ranges, the UNESCO-listed Halong Bay, and golden rice fields.

With an average daily cost of $50 for tourists, Hanoi is undoubtedly the most costly option out of the five; yet, even by Western standards, it is extremely affordable and definitely less expensive than other Asian metropolises like Singapore or Hong Kong.

Are you planning a trip to Vietnam soon? Find out more about this Southeast Asian treasure and some of the guidelines for visiting.

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These 5 U.S. Airlines Are Most Likely To Experience Flight Delays Right Now

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Woman Waiting at Airport

The holidays are quickly approaching, resulting in some of the busiest travel weeks of the year. Flight delays are typical this time of year, particularly around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Flying may be a stressful experience in and of itself, but delays can make it even more so.

Booking with an airline that has a high proportion of on-time flights and booking a ticket early in the morning are two of the greatest strategies to avoid flight delays.

According to recent statistics from UpgradedPoints, the following airlines in the United States are most likely to face flight delays right now.

1. Frontier Airlines.

Frontier Airlines is currently the worst airline for flight delays. This low-cost carrier’s flights have a 31.9% risk of being delayed.

Rather of taking a chance and risking a one-in-three possibility of your flight being delayed, it’s best to select a more dependable airline for flights this winter.

Frontier is also dealing with other concerns, including as a class-action lawsuit against the airline’s $599 “unlimited flight” pass, which was introduced earlier this year.

2. Southwest Airlines

Last year, just around Christmas, Southwest Airlines experienced a catastrophic meltdown, resulting in thousands of flight delays and cancellations.

Many tourists questioned if booking with Southwest was safe in light of the complete breakdown of operations. While Southwest is likely to strive extra hard to avoid a similar disaster this winter, you may not want to take any chances.

Furthermore, according to historical statistics, Southwest flights have a 31.8% risk of being delayed, making the airline nearly as unreliable as Frontier.

3. JetBlue Airways

JetBlue is another untrustworthy airline with a significant likelihood of flight delays. When it comes to on-time flights, this New York-based carrier does not have the finest track record.

Although not as awful as Frontier or Southwest, going on JetBlue still means you have a staggering 30.8% probability of experiencing flight delays.

4. Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant Air is the next carrier on the list of possible delays. This low-cost airline is not very dependable, so although you may save money by booking your ticket, you may also face unexpected delays.

Allegiant Air flights are delayed 29.2% of the time.

5. Spirit Airlines

Finally, there is Spirit Airlines. Although this low-cost carrier is the brunt of many jokes for being a less-than-ideal mode of transportation, it isn’t as awful as some other US airlines when it comes to delays.

When flying with Spirit, there is a 28.1% risk of a flight delay.

Which Airlines Experience the Fewest Delays?

Now that you know which airlines are most likely to have flight delays right now (and which to avoid! ), here are the airlines with the fewest delays.

Although ultra-low tickets with airlines such as Frontier or Spirit may entice you, it may be worth the additional money to book with a more dependable airline.

The top three airlines with the fewest delays right now are:

  • Alaska Airlines has a 20.3% probability of being delayed.
  • Delta Air Lines has a 19.1% probability of being delayed.
  • Hawaiian Airlines has a 15.6% probability of being delayed.

Flights can be delayed for a variety of reasons, including aircraft faults, personnel concerns, weather, and other factors, but these three airlines have the fewest delays.

There is no foolproof technique to avoid flight delays (as lovely as that would be! ), but you may read this article for further advice on how to avoid the dreaded delay or cancellation.

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