Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  


Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  

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Aviation, Featured, Tips-Trips

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go – With its picturesque mountain backdrop, traditional houses, and magical atmosphere, Shirakawa-go is a welcome addition to our Hidden Gems destination list. 

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  

Nestled in a remote valley and flanked by the mountains of Gifu, Shirakawa-go meaning “White River Old-District” contains verdurous mountainous forests and alpine villages combined with the allure of Japan’s ancient and mystical culture. The region is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Located in the heart of Japan’s most mountainous region, the area experiences some of Japan’s heaviest snowfall. This architectural style was developed to withstand large amounts of heavy snowfall, which averages at about 10 meters each year, leading to Shirakawa-go to often be described as an “isolated island” when it becomes snowed in.  

Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer”, as the steep thatched roofs of the houses resemble the hands of a Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. 

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  

The location 

Shirakawa-go is located on the banks of Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span northern part of Gifu Prefecture in Honshu, central Japan.  

The people 

Shirakawa-go’s population amounts to 1,600 residents who continue to live a traditional way of life. Guided by a strong and ancient philosophy, they are incredibly resilient and serene.  

The climate  

Temperatures range from 28°C in August to 3°C in January.  

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  


Shirakawa-go is the most visited tourist destination in central Japan, particularly since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. To accommodate visitors, there are over 40 traditional gassho-style guesthouses where you can enjoy the simple practicality of ancient Japanese life. For local accommodation, click here

What to see in Shirakawa-go 

  • Ogimachi Village 
  • Shiroyama Observation Deck 
  • Deai-bashi Bridge 
  • Shirakawa Hachiman Shinto Shrine 
  • Kanda House 

Best time to visit Shirakawa-go 

Tourists visit Shirakawa-go all year round. In spring (March to May) you will see cherry blossoms and rice paddies. In the summertime it is green, the autumn is a crescendo of yellows and auburns, and the winter snows create a magical and idyllic setting. 

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  

What makes Shirakawa-go unique 

Even during a short visit to Shirakawa, it is easy to forget the rest of the world exists. It is like taking a step back in time to the ancient and mystical Japan of a bygone era.  

Flying private to Shirakawa-go  

There are many airports that can accommodate private flights surrounding this region of Japan. Chartering a private jet for your trip to Shirakawa-go will enable you to customize your itinerary to your exact requirements and enjoy a truly memorable experience.  

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  

Entry airports 

Toyama Kitokito Airport   

  • IATA: TOY 
  • Coordinates: N36°38.38′ / E137°11.09′ 

Operations information  

  • Toyama is the closest airport to Shirakawa-go, approximately a 90-minute drive  
  • This airport handles a lot of charter flights 
  • This is an airport of entry, to secure a parking spot, coordinate at least seven working days before the arrival date  
  • Parking is only possible for 90 minutes 
  • After dropping off passengers, the aircraft needs to go to RJGG or another airport for overnight parking  
  • FBO available  
  • Jet fuel is available  
  • Business Jet aircraft from 2230z to 1000Z only 

Visit the official airport website here.    

Nagoya Airfield   

  • IATA: NKM 
  • Coordinates: 35.25545 136.92440 

Operations information  

  • Nagoya is approximately a 150-minute drive to Shirakawa-go  
  • This is an airport of entry, to secure a parking spot, coordinate at least three working days before the arrival date  
  • This airport can’t accept aircraft larger than BBJ or ACJ aircraft – business jets should be under GLF6 size  
  • Jet fuel is available 
  • Operating hours from 2200z to 1300Z only 
  • The airport primarily services domestic flights and international flights to China and Taiwan 

Visit the official airport website here 

Chubu Centrair International Airport  

  • IATA: NGO 
  • ICAO: RJGG  
  • Coordinates: Lat: 34° 51′ 30.23″ N Lon: 136° 48′ 17.97″   

Operations information 

  • Chubu Centrair International Airport is approximately a 170-minute drive from Shirakawa-go 
  • This is an airport of entry, to secure a parking spot, coordinate at least one working day before the arrival date 
  • Jet fuel is available 
  • Operating hours 24/7  

Commercial flights 

There are two internal flight routes from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport that will take you close to Shirakawa-go; Haneda to Toyama Airport and Haneda to Komatsu Airport. The remainder of your journey will be by bus or car.  

Toyama Kitokito Airport has domestic flights to/from Tokyo and Sapporo as well as international flights to/from Seoul, Shanghai, and Taipei. 

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  


  • E-visas for short-term stays not exceeding 90 days are available to all citizens of the following countries: Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America 
  • Japan has visa exemption arrangements for 69 countries. Click here to find out more 

Health screening   

  • There is no vaccination requirement to enter Japan 
  • Visitors do not need to carry proof or pre-departure testing  

Hidden Gems: Shirakawa-go  

Visitor tips  

  • The villages are only reachable by bus or by car  
  • To reach Shirakawa-go it takes approximately 1.5 hours by bus from Kanazawa and Toyama and about 3 hours from Nagoya 
  • Many villagers don’t speak anything other than Japanese, but they are friendly and happy to see tourists 

To create your ultimate Shirakawa-go travel experience, contact UAS Charter or UAS Executive Travel. 

For more Hidden Gems, visit the UAS Blog