I must admit, I was really nervous about this trip. For me, this was the most ambitious trip that I’ve planned so far. I kept thinking, what if the train schedules were wrong? What if the buses to Shirakawa-go were all booked, what-if this, what-if that? It was stressful! But I must say, it was well worth the effort (and money)!
The first time that I saw Shirakawa-go was when David Celdran featured it on his show, Executive Class. The place looked really beautiful and it haunted me! I have, since then, added this to my “must-see places in this lifetime” list. I wasn’t able to start that tv show segment so I didn’t know what the place was called. I Googled it, and it took me about 2 days to find out where it was and what it’s called.
Here’s one of the first photos of Shirakawa-go that I saw online. It’s from http://japanskiexperience.com:
I became obsessed about visiting the place!
Our starting point was Osaka. I thought that getting to Shirakawa-go would be a challenge. Thanks to Google again, I got all the information I needed online. I was amazed that you can actually get Japan’s train and bus schedules online, including costs! This enabled me to plan our trip well.
Originally, we planned on staying in Kyoto for 2 nights, then I changed my mind a month before our trip. I thought of going straight to Kanazawa from the airport. That would be a 4-hour train ride from Kansai International Airport. I checked the train schedule through Hyperdia.com. I found out that the last train from Osaka to Kanazawa leaves at 9 p.m. Our flight arrives Osaka at 8 p.m., but you never know if there would be any delays. Because of this, I opted to stay a night in Osaka.
This is how to get to Shirakawa-go from Osaka (based from my research):
From Kansai International Airport, take a train to Shin-Osaka station. From there, change trains, take the Thunderbird to Kanazawa (3 hours). From Kanazawa, you have to take a 1-hour bus ride to Shirakawa-go. The fare, overall, costs about Php 10,000 per head, roundtrip.
Based on that, I made our tour plan, as follows:
Day 1 – Arrive Osaka; overnight at Remm Hotel
Day 2 – Leave for Kanazawa; overnight at Kanazawa (Dormy Inn)
Day 3 – Leave for Shirakawa-go; overnight at Shirakawa-go (Toyota Shirakawa-go Eco Institute)
Day 4 – return to Kanazawa; stay 2 nights in Kanazawa (Ana Crowne Plaza Hotel)
Day 5- tour Kanazawa
Day 6 – return to Osaka; stay 2 nights in Osaka (Fraser Residence)
Day 7 – free day at Osaka
Day 8 – fly back to Manila
Here’s the start of our journey:
DAY 1 (3-21-13)
Since we’re staying a night in Osaka, I looked for a hotel in the Shin-Osaka area.
This was taken at the Kansai Airport train platform, while waiting for our train to Shin-Osaka:
I booked a hotel located right inside the Shin-Osaka Station. The Remm Hotel:
They just opened in October 2012!
I booked the bigger room,
but it’s still small!
But it’s very clean, and cozy!
I love the bathroom!
Check out the toiletries hanging on the wall.:
There was a McDonald’s on the ground floor, and we had that for dinner.
Since we’re staying at 5 different hotels during this trip, I figured we should travel light. We travelled with just one luggage (for the 3 of us). It weighed 40 kilos!
Anyway, I slept so well that night. The bed and the pillows felt so nice and luxurious! Plus, knowing that the trains were just downstairs gave me peace of mind.
DAY 2 (3-22-13)
Hubby woke up early, and he served Julian and I breakfast in bed (courtesy of McDonald’s). So sweet!
I went down at 9 a.m. to get our train tickets.
The ticket counters were right below our hotel!
I was able to go down, buy our tickets, and return to the room, in 15 minutes!
We got tickets for the 10 a.m. train to Kanazawa.:
At the platform, waiting for our train.:
This is the Thunderbird:
This is so much more comfortable than our plane ride!
It was a 3-hour scenic train ride to Kanazawa.
Here are some of the sights:
See that structure that looks like a chocolate bar? That’s the Meiji building!:
We got excited when we started seeing the snow-capped mountains.:
There was a food trolley!
We bought some snacks and refreshments.:
It was really a comfortable ride! Julian was able to take a nap.
Oh, and the bathroom inside the train was very clean, too!
Day 2 (3-22-13)
We arrived Kanazawa at around 1 p.m. It’s our first time there, and it was such a relief to find a Tourism desk inside the train station!
We asked the Tourism desk for directions going to our hotel for that night, Dormy Inn; and the place where we can buy tickets to go to Shirakawa-go.
We loved Kanazawa the moment we stepped out of the train station!
The whole place is so clean, and beautiful, and organized!
There’s a specific area for buses and cabs outside the station.:
And you can’t just smoke anywhere!
There’s an enclosed smoking area! So awesome!
At one end of the station is Ana Crowne Plaza. We’ll be staying there when we return from Shirakawa-go.
This is the street at the other end of the station. Our hotel for that night, Dormy Inn is located here.:
At the corner is the building where you can buy bus tickets for Shirakawa-go.
We bought our tickets for the next day.:
We took the 10:00 a.m. trip. It stops at Gokayama, too.
I was able to rest easy after purchasing the bus tickets.
The bus stop for our trip is at the train station, too!
And there’s a Starbucks right across!
How convenient is that?
Day 2 (3-22-13)
I, originally, booked a night in Ana Crowne Plaza for this stay. However, since we’re only staying for a night, and we’re leaving early the next day, I decided to book a cheaper hotel that’s also near the train station. Dormy Inn had good reviews at Booking.com, Agoda and Tripadvisor.
The room costs a little over US$ 100. It’s small but clean.
There was Wifi in the room. The staff were friendly but not all of them speak English.
Julian loves this place on the 14th floor.:
There was a mall right across the hotel.:
We frequented this place when we were in Kanazawa.
I could stay there the whole day!
I controlled myself from buying stuff. I reminded myself that we that we don’t have space in our luggage!
I was so tempted to buy some Furoku! But they’re so heavy and bulky!:
When we were in Kanazawa, the temp was 8 degrees Celsius during the day. At night, it was probably about 4 degrees.
I volunteered to go to the grocery that night. I was told by the Receptionist that there was one at the train station.
This was our street at night.:
The train station was about 200 meters away.
It was such a nice walk!
And here’s the grocery.:
I was tempted to buy so much stuff again. But we have to travel light!
We’re so excited for Shirakawa-go!
Before I start posting about our Japan trip again, I thought of blogging about our Cebu trip first. We only stayed in Cebu for 2 nights/ 3 days, and in Japan, we stayed for 7 nights/ 8 days.
First off, I want to thank my sister-in-law, Angela, for helping us get this great deal for Shangri-la Mactan! We bought the vouchers in October 2012. I scheduled our Cebu trip, originally, for March. BUT, an opportunity came for a Japan trip, so we went with that first. (Good thing we haven’t bought our Cebu airline tickets yet). We were still in high spirits from our Japan trip; but our Shangri-la vouchers were expiring on April 15, and our meal vouchers were only valid on weekdays, so we booked our Cebu trip on April 10-12.
We arrived at 12:30 p.m. in Shangri-la Mactan.
We loved our room!:
We got a garden-view room:
This was our view:
We still had an ocean view to the left:
After we’ve settled down, we went to Tides restaurant for our lunch. Children below 11 years old get free buffet meals there, so we took our lunches and dinners there.
This is right outside Tides:
We had a bad experience during lunch. The cookies on their dessert station were not labeled properly. Julian ate a cookie that had peanuts, and he had an allergic reaction! Good thing I brought his allergy medicine! I gave him a dose immediately, and we got his allergies under control. Thank you, Lord! The only downside, he was asleep the whole afternoon.
When Julian woke up, he couldn’t wait to go to Adventure Zone. We went there around 5:45 p.m.
He tried the big slide, and he got scared at first because it was higher that what he’s used to.
The whole place thrilled him!
There was another kid there, and Julian is very friendly with kids.
We left Julian at Adventure Zone while hubby and I explored the grounds.
We walked to the beach!
Inside the gazebo:
After walking around the beach, we decided to go back to Adventure Zone to fetch Julian.
It was getting dark, and I was wondering how Julian was doing.:
He was perfectly happy when we got there!
Hubby and I couldn’t resist trying the slide, too. T’was so much fun!
Before leaving, Julian jumped on this pool of balls.
He loves this place!
We went to Tides again for dinner.