A trip to Gokayama

Hours: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Entrance fee: 200 yen per museum (there are 3)
Parking free: 500 yen
World Heritage: Yass. 

What to do: 
This is one of the 2 places where you can see the traditional Gassho-zukuri houses. You can go inside some of the houses that have been turned into museums and see how they are from the inside, learn how they are made and their history.  In some of them they serve you hot tea inside.
This is a “regular” town that has being made into a world heritage and touristic area but in some of the houses there are regular people living their normal life. Its quite interesting really.  

Are dogs allowed?
They are allowed on the streets. And secretly they allowed my dog inside the houses as long as I kept her inside a bag and she didn’t touch the floor and walls. Here is a picture of me sneaking her in (with permission).

I loved this place because of the miracle it gifted us. I had seen pictures of this place while covered in snow and I wanted to see that but our road trip was during spring and so I was already resigned to seeing it dry but oh my God!
The morning we went it started snowing! Snow in April.
It snowed and snowed until the roofs of the Gassho-zukuri houses were white just like I wanted to see them. It was a miracle!
The houses must look good all year round but there’s something special about their snow covered white look. Even Whiskey got to enjoy both the inside of the houses and running around in the snow.

The people here are very kind and welcoming, and on the day, we went there weren’t many tourists around so we got to see it almost all to ourselves. 

This place was one of the best places we went to on our 20-day camper van trip, and it was the best place for us to start the trip on with a positive outlook. Before coming here, I was still doubting if the camper van trip was a good idea and if bringing Whiskey my dog was right or wrong but everything went so picture perfect here that all my doubts disappeared. 
The snow was beautiful but snow means cold. I wish I would have had gloves and warmer socks, and also a pair of shoes resistant to water because my tennis shoes absorbed all the water in the snow. It was really, really cold. Rain boots would have been perfect.
This place gave me the feeling that they even though they were a world heritage area not many tourists came from overseas, and that’s why they are so kind and welcoming. Like they had true omotenashi spirit everywhere. Its still a pretty off-the-beaten path area to go visit.

Road station (Michi-no-eki)

Kureha Service area (呉羽サービスエリア)
This place is still about an hour away from Gokayama but it was a lifesaver for us because it was late at night, dark and snowing/raining heavily. All this on my first day driving this huge camper van so even though it was unplanned we stayed the night here. It was fairly quiet (at least for me) and it had toilets and coffee machines for our morning breakfast. All we could ask for. 
Its on the highway so if you are traveling to Gokayama through the highway it’s a convenient stop to sleep for free.   

I swear I did this trip with my parents and my sister for the first few days but to respect their privacy I will only post pictures of me, and of course my dog Whiskey because she is a professional model.


Multilingual acupuncturist travelling the world