[Help] Japan, Gifu- Helpful guide for winter Shirakawa-go Light up

Getting to the annual winter light up event has been a huge challenge every year.  Shirakawago is the must go to place for its famous traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses which looks like a praying hand and the architectural creation which can withstand the heavy snowfall during winter, The roofs are built without nails and there is a large attic space being used to cultivate silkworms. People flock to Shirakawago to see the light-up annually during winter to have a glimpse of the beautiful traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses being light-up and winter picturesque.

However, due to its overwhelming popularity, Shirakawago has been facing overcrowding and a new system is implemented every year. To limit the visitors visiting it, we are lucky that we got a chance to visit the 2018 event and it was not easy during the planning stage trying to understand the rules. Thus, I have put up the information here so that it will be easier to understand.

** Notice **

The ticket system has changed in 2019, advance reservation is required and only limit visitor numbers are allowed during the light-up event.

Scroll below to know more details for 2019 Schedule and information.

Getting to Shirakawago Step by Step Guide 

Step 1:  Check the scheduled date before the trip

Step 2: To stay inside shirakawago or not (Accommodation)

Step 3: Get/book the transportation

Step 4: Getting there

Step 5: Participating the light up event

Step 6: Returning

Map of Shirakawago

Scheduled Date (2018)

Event Date Time
121 Jan 2018 (Sun)17:30~19:30
228 Jan 2018 (Sun)
304 February (Sun)
412 February (Mon)


If you are able to secure a room in the village, the observation deck ticket will be included.

Book a hotel room or a place to stay outside of Shirakawago (Nearby cities)



Nagoya  (Not recommended)

Transportation (From Kanazawa)

Hire a car

**Cars are not allowed to enter the village**


Per hour with the driver


(Tax and toll fee included)


1~1.5 hours

Time needed

Minimum 4 hours, maximum of 10 hours

Tour bus

Tour schedule and information can be found at the link below when closer to the date.


Yokoso Japan Tour



Nouhi bus

What to do when you reached there?

Take a free shuttle bus from the car park rest stop to the entrance of the village.

Cross the Deai- Suspension Bridge

Getting the ticket



Ticket release

Start from 16:30~ until all ticket has been sold out


500JPY Per person

We were lucky to get the last slot.

Getting to the light up venue


At the viewing spot (Heavy snow that day)

Return (For hired car)

You have to queue to take the scheduled shuttle bus down to Shirakawago bus terminal, then head to the bridge where there will be another shuttle bus bring you back to the carpark lot.

Tour Bus

Tour bus will have a scheduled time where they will inform you the assigned time to return to the pickup point, most of the time it will be at 19:45.

Scheduled Date (2019)

To note:

The reservation system will be used for all the activities starting from 2019.
All activities need to be booked in advance. Without reservation, guests will be restricted to access the village.

Event Date Time
114 Jan 2019 (Mon) 17:30~19:30
220 Jan 2019 (Sun)
327 Jan 2019 (Sun)
403 Feb 2019 (Sun)
511 Feb 2019 (Mon)
617 Feb 2019 (Sun)

**14 Jan and 11 Feb is a public holiday.**


Book your accommodation

Registration will start from Mid-August.

**This event is not on a first come first serve basis, it is selected randomly like a lottery draw.**

Register through the tourists association

Registration will start from Mid-August.
Information will be posted on the website in Mid-August.

**This event is not on a first come first serve basis, it is selected randomly like a lottery draw.**

Booking an independent hostel

The list of available hostels will be uploaded to the website at the beginning of Aug.
Booking will not be available before the above timeslot.

** All guests who stay overnight are allowed to park their cars at specific parking lots. Do not need to pay for the parking fee**

**The observation deck ticket will be included if you are able to reserve a room in the village.**

Ticket to the observation deck

Cost? (Applicable for self-driving/ guest using the carpark lot)

1,000JPY Per Pax

  • Only tourists with observation deck shuttle bus tickets are allowed to enter the observation deck.**Ticket is selected randomly like a lottery draw.**
  • Selected participants will receive emails from the association, and payment for all the fees are to be made online via credit card in advance.


Day return (Self-driving/ guest(s) using the parking lot)

Registration will start from Mid-August.

**This event is not on a first come first serve basis, it is selected randomly like a lottery draw.**


Maximum 8 passengers

3,000JPY Per car

9 -12 passengers:

5,000JPY Per car

Tour Bus

Please join the tours organized by travel agencies.
We are not able to know the booking situation of different travel agencies,
Please check the keywords: “Shirakawa-go Light-up Tours”, etc. on your own.


Yokoso Japan Tour



The registration for different bus companies will start later.
The information will be posted later (Detailed date not fix).

Nouhi bus

To know more kindly visit the official website. **The information of the booking system will be released in Mid-August (10/8 – 20/8).**

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