Shirakawa-go, Japan The Real Hinamizawa

Okay, admittedly I am biased being a Higurashi fanboy but out of all but the places in Japan I have visited, I recommend a summer visit to Shirakawa-go the most.

Shirakawa-go is an ancient city in central Japan, deep in the Japanese Alps. Most only attempt to go there during the summer (as I did) as it is often covered in deep snow. Shirakawa-go is famous for its unique style of houses which are still lived in today.
Houses Close

Opening Comparison
Shirakawa-go is also the city that Hinamizawa is modeled after. Hinamizawa is the fictional city known for ancient curses, murder mysteries, and killer lolis from the anime “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni”.

When I went here, I admit, I was super excited (and a bit scared too). It felt like I was visiting a real life anime location. Everything was there, the beautiful green scenery, flowers/waterlilies, water canals, water wheels, and even the overlook.
River 1
Bridge Comparison
River 2
River Comparison 1
On my way to the overlook, I had to cross a very large bridge. In the Higurashi anime, this is the river where the Watanagashi Festival takes place in episode 2.
City 1 Extra
City 2 Extra
What beautiful scenery! Even though I was in a rush to get to the “famous” overlook, I made sure to take plenty of pictures along the way.
Full City Shot 1
Full City Comparison
Some of the trees obscured the “anime view” a bit but it was definitely a level up in dorkism for me.
Full City Shot 2
Overlook Comparison
All of the houses face the same way. I think I read somewhere that its to align the houses with the direction of the winds.

Sadly, if I had gone a little higher, I could have gotten an unobstructed view. At the time, I did not know this. ^^;
Main Character House
House Comparison
On my way down the staircase from the overlook, I spotted the “house of Rika and Satako”. The Japanese around me looked shocked that I would want to take a picture of it. ^_^;
The next place I wanted to visit was the Higurashi shrine. On my way there, I spotted this serene temple.
Field Extra
Higurashi Sunset
As I walked through the beautiful scenery, the summer heat and noisy cicadas kept me company. The noise only got louder as the sun was close to setting.
Roof Detail
As I snapped photos, I couldn’t help but be a bit fascinated by the roofs on these unique houses. I can’t believe they kept the snow and rain out without becoming moldy.
Love this shot.
Shrine Comparison
After the overlook, the next biggest place I wanted to visit was the Furude Shrine. Of course, its not called that in reality…I think. ^_^;
Shrine 2
Shrine Comparison 2
I took a lot of pictures of the shrine and I had to be very patient and persistent to get these without anyone in them.
Guardian Comparison
Shrine Grounds
Everything about the shrine was spot on to the anime. They were very meticulous in recreating the real life Shirakawa-go shrine to the last detail.
Shrine 3
Shrine Comparison
I wanted this shot bad. In the Higurashi anime, a certain grisly scene is discovered at this spot in the shrine.

After taking these shots, the shrine maidens looked like they were about to say something about all the picture taking so I hurried up. ^_^;
Extra Higurashi
Extra 2 Higurashi
There was a section reserved only for the anime jinja-ema.

I was very surprised to see an excellently drawn Kyou from Clannad in all the Higurashi ones. (:
Water Wheel
WaterWheel Comparison
Sorry for being such a dork. I looked everywhere for that “iconic” water wheel…
Last Shot
That’s Shirakawa-go, the real Hinamizawa.

Now for the directions so you can go on your next trip to Japan or even if you are already here.
1.) From either Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station: Follow signs to Shinkansen. Ask for Nozomi, Nagoya. Get reserved and a window seat if you can.
2.) From Nagoya Station. I was confused for an hour on this one. You want to get on the Hida Wide View train to Takayama. You’ll see some going to other places like Matsumoto. I bought a ticket from the machine there (even though it was for non-reserve local) and then hopped on a train to Takayama. The train attendant adjusted the price for me. Make sure you have lots of yen on you for this trip.
3.) From Takayama Station, there will be a bus station (obvious) and everything will be in English. Go to the bus station window and say Shirakawa-go. Wait by the sign for Shirakawa-go (in English) for your bus to arrive.

Its about an hour to Nagoya, another hour to Takayama, and 50 min to Shirakawa-go. So about 3 hours give or take (one way) and just shy of 20,000 yen one way. It’s worth it to see this beautiful place at least once.
Sorry if this is a repeat for you if you are familiar with my old Myspace page. I’m not really updating that blog anymore as this one is far more assessable then Myspace ever was. I’m going to throw in articles like this every now and then but will still focus on anime merchandise and reviews.

Its really cloudy and cold in Japan right now (and will be all week) so I can’t get to my Kannagi figure review just yet. Can’t rain forever though.

EDIT: Due to the popularity of this article, I decided to add a few more additional pics of beautiful Shirakawa-go…..taken over 3 years ago…. (:
Shirakawago 1
Such beautiful houses.
If I was still stationed in Japan, I would make it a point to return to Hinamizawa during the different seasons (like Tomitake). ^^;
Shirakawago 2
This was one of the houses open to the public.
I was in such a rush that I completely ran past it to get to the overlook. ^^;
Shirakawago 3
A country graveyard in this small rural town.
Shirakawago 4
A photo taken as I ran to the other side of the village.
If I ever return, I will make sure I have enough time to enjoy it. lol ^^;
Shirakawago 5
Another of the unique houses in Shirakawa-go…..
Shirakawago 6
Beautiful hydrangea flowers. (:
Shirakawago 7
Entry here is forbidden….unless you want to be cursed. =p
Shirakawago 8
Rural fields on the outskirts. They are frequently shown in the anime….
Shirakawago 9
Beautiful sunflowers….
Shirakawago 10
One final look at Shirakawa-go. I hope you enjoyed it. (:

108 comments on “Shirakawa-go, Japan The Real Hinamizawa

  1. Adun says:

    I had planned to visit Shirakawa-go on my last trip but alas I could not fit it into the schedule due to the amount of time required to travel there. Perhaps on my next trip, whenever that is.

  2. phelan says:

    Shirakawa-go is a long ways away from anything, and requires you to get up extra early to get any time to sightsee. It is such a great place to explore though – admittedly, I went there at first as a Higu fan, but the quaint charm of the village attracted me more.

    Of course, I gotta say…how did you miss the Irie Clinic!?

  3. punynari says:

    Not only that phelan. I also missed Keiichi’s house, that bridge where Satako made Keichii fall off (did see that but could not find out how to get to it), and the school house. Also, the overlook. I should have went up a bit higher. That railing area where Rika said “Go back to Tokyo”. That was just a bit higher and would have probably given me a better overlook view without the trees in the way.

    During this shoot, I was in a rush the whole time. I didn’t have any hotels in mind and had no idea where to get one out that far (plus I had work the next day ^_^;) and the trains stop operating at midnight. I “somehow” made it back to Yokosuka from Shirakawago with 5 mins to spare (11:55pm!)

    I’d love to go back out there and get the pics I missed but this summer….not likely. Probably will be seeing alot of blue…

  4. Matteas says:

    Nice photos. Shirakawa-go really looks marvelous. It’s very high up in my list of places I want to visit when I get to Japan.
    I’ve read somewhere that the gasshou-zukuri houses can withstand all the snow in winter thanks to their roof angles and good, thick thatching. And the direction they face is also to make the interior warm in winter and cool in summer. But the wind resistance is true, too.

  5. Kylerrrrr says:

    Omg, im living in Saitama ken right now as an exchange student.. Id love to go there but i cant afford 250 bucks each way. Are you sure you wernt getting like ripped off or something?
    GAhHH none the less im totally jealous D:
    -also a major higurashi fanboy-

    • punynari says:

      I might have been actually but not on purpose. On the Hida Takayama line, the train conductor spoke no English at all so I think he may have charged me for a roundtrip ticket or something. ^^;

      Hope you get to go someday. ^_^

  6. Arekkusu says:

    ENVY. But I least I know what the real Hinamizawa is! 8D *Happy-go-lucky* I’M SPECIAL. I’MMA FANGIRL. I wanna go there when I go to Japan. ^-^ *pats* Nice pictures! 8D

  7. f1ux_1nj3ct says:

    wow nice pics, I really want to go there some day! :D by the way u remember the camera guy from the anime ? lol.. was thinking of that when looking through your pics..

    • punynari says:

      LOL, need to get a better camera before I look like that guy. Still using a point-n-shoot. ^^;

      It does a wonderful job on outdoor shots but indoor ones sometimes look a bit rough.

      Hmm….I’m think I’m going to try and go back to Shirakawa-go (Hinamizawa), one more time before leaving Japan.
      Still got a few more places I’d like to see first though. ^^

  8. Hser5 says:

    OMG! Now I want to go to Japan more than ever! :D
    Great photos btw, brings up lots of memories. @_@
    Did you find out if that secret tunnel in the mountain existed?

    • punynari says:

      Glad folks are enjoying my Japan photos. When I get back in port, I’m going to try to make more Japan articles as I have reached my one year mark left in Japan (unless I can finish my time here). In other words, I’m going to try and see everything I can, as if I could never go back.

      Secret tunnel in the mountains? It’s been a long time since I watched Higurashi so my memory is rusty.

      • Hser5 says:

        In Higurashi, there is a labyrinth in the mountains on the Sonozaki’s lands. That’s where Shion gets her nails ripped off. Some other stuff happens there too. If that helps.

      • punynari says:

        Ah! I remember now. Thanks.

        If it did exist, I’d be too scared to go down there. I like my finger nails where they are. ^^;

  9. Islamic Ninja says:

    Holy Crap… Am a Huge Higurahi fan. I need to go there when i get money to go to Japan. I hope there are hotels in this town. I want to spend the night here. If I see real Rena am running for it.

    • punynari says:

      Although I didn’t actually try it, many of these houses allow visitors to stay and they will even cook dinner for all the guests. In fact that is, supposedly, the most recommended part of a trip to Shirakawa-go from other folks that have been there.

      Maybe I’ll try it next time when I’m not in such a rush. Would love some sunset shots as well. ^^

    • Sheet Man says:

      I would be more concerned with if there was a place I could move to in the village. Who wants to go there? I wanna live there.

  10. Kazuki says:

    Amazing photographs! I am also a big Higu fan, and I am moving to Japan this coming summer^^. I am VERY interested in, if that labyrinth/secret tunnel really does exist, my two friends are coming to Japan for 2 months with me, so we are going to explore Shirakawa-go a lot and try and find it. I’ll let you know if I do, and more about if that Oyashiro-sama curse really does exist. Maybe get a picture of inside the shrine, if the Maikos will allow it >< I'll reply here once I make a blog/article about my findings and travel there!

    Take care, Kazuki

  11. ShionandRenaFAN says:

    There is something I need to ask…. do you really start getting cuts full of maggots after leaving?

  12. >. says:

    wow thats awsome i didn’t know that the person how made when they cry so well made Hinamizawa look just like it really dose

  13. Dianna says:

    I’m planning to take a trip here, being the higurashi fangirl I am. xD
    Do you think it’ll be okay if I go in the winter..? D:

    • punynari says:

      I think it should be okay to visit in the winter, although, there might be fewer buses leaving from Takayama during that season.
      Another thing is that during the winter, the trail that goes to the overlook is “closed”. Of course, that wouldn’t stop me ^^; but I’d thought I’d throw that out there.

      Should be a different experience during the winter. Have fun!

  14. ivy says:


    if i have a JR pass can i go takayama using the JR train FOC?? Cos i planning a night stay at nagoya…so planning the trip now for dec trip to japan

    • punynari says:

      The Hida Wide View train is covered by the Japan Rail Pass from Nagoya to Takayama. At least, according to wikitravel.

      Have fun in Japan!

  15. april says:

    Tomitake flash <3

  16. motormind says:

    There’s quite a distance between the spots surrounding the clinic and the actual school and suspension bridge, which are way south. Is there any transportation between those two?

  17. motormind says:

    Are you sure about those travel times? Hyperdia says that it takes more than two hours to get from Nagoya to Takayama. I’m just wondering since I plan to go there next week from Kyoto.

    • punynari says:

      Not sure at all. ^^;
      What I am sure about is that there are few trains leaving Takayama.
      Think I had to wait and hour or two for an evening train back to Nagoya.

      Shirakawa-go’s a beautiful place. Hope I can go back some day… ^^

  18. Michael says:

    Thank you so much for posting these — very helpful as references for a fan fiction I am writing ;) I love Higurashi and hope I will be able to go visit there one day.

  19. motormind says:

    I went there a few days ago and I was sorely mistaken about the travel time from Kyoto. Of the 15 hours I was underway, I could only spend a bit more than 5 in Shirakawa-go. Phew. I had no trouble finding the train from Nagoya to Takayama, since a friendly conductor pointed me to the right track straight away, but even then it took a long while.
    But it was worth it. The place is gorgeous. The shrine is basically … well… another shrine. I also went to the other side of town to see Keiichi’s house, which is situated TOTALLY differently and had a different vibe because of that, and to the tool-shed, which is close to Keiichi’s house and turned out to be a shrine in its own right (albeit a little one).
    The view from the hillside is stunning indeed. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s so touristic, but luckily it wasn’t too crowded. I even had Rika’s favorite spot to myself for a while. It’s just too funny though how that spot in the game is simply just another place the characters go to, when in reality it attracts people from far away places to enjoy it.
    I was most impressed by the river, which is actually rather wild and noisy up there, much more so than they even depict in the game and anime. All in all, I had a good time, even though I felt like having been put through a wringer when I returned to my hotel :)

  20. Will :) says:

    Wow, I’m really considering visiting this place if I save up enough!
    It would be quite a trek from the UK, but if I was to visit Tokyo then travel from there to Shirakawa…
    Do you know if there are any Hotels in Shirakawa that you could stay in for a few days?

    • punynari says:

      Supposedly, many of the traditional houses in Shirakawa-go will let travelers stay there.
      Of course, at the time that wasn’t an option for me. I had to get back to the ship as soon as possible! ^^;

  21. Cake says:

    OH MY GOD! The shoot of Rika&Satoko’s house it’s just perfect DDDDDDDDDDD:
    I’ve already made a promisse to my friend who’s a Higurashi fangirl like me. She cosplayed with me as Rena (and I was Mion) ~ we’ll certanly see this city once before we die!!
    Thank you so much for the pictures, they’re really great!!

  22. Perry says:

    i want to go there so bad now!!!

  23. kyle says:

    It killed me when I saw Rika-Chan’s house x U x;
    I was like freaking out and now I want to go there cosplaying as Keiichi…
    ; u ;
    Ohh thank you for the shots and info XD
    Deffinantly going there tthis year :3

  24. punynari says:

    I spent the last 4 hours revamping this entire article. Many photos were added, nearly doubling the photography that was in the original article. All photos are hosted on my site now. Higurashi anime comparison shots were added. Also, this article has now been proofread and the language flows much better.

    This is one of my favorite articles so I wanted to make sure it was the best I could make it. I hope you enjoy! (:

  25. punynari says:

    Ultra cute cosplayer えなこ visits Hinamizawa as Rena Ryuugu.
    I found out about this cosplayer a long time ago at a Touhou convention btw. ^^

  26. Tom says:

    I wanna go there so badley.. too bad I can’t afford a ticket to Japan :(

  27. Hello.
    I am planning to go to ShirAkwa next march, i would like to know if snows by that time of the year, and if is worth it to go there while snows.



    • punynari says:

      I’ve never had the chance to visit Shirakawa-go in the snow but I’ve heard the overlook trail is closed during the heavy snow season. ^^;
      As for if it’s snowing in March, I’d say there’s a good chance. Japan Guide mentions that there’s usually a meter of snow on the ground in February….

  28. spd says:

    right click on a picture | show picture in new window (don’t know the exact English menuitem name), and delete the ?w=600 part of the URL. For example:


  29. MagickalDJ says:

    Wow. First lemma just say, your photography is great! I love the beauty and artistic flow of your shots! And I loved how you found alot of the places from the series! I’ve known about Higurashi for a year or two now and it hasn’t taken that much interest from me, but the mystery behind the curse and everything gets me going! XD I’m joining the Air Force soon and I’m going to be stationed in Japan. I hope one of the first things I do when I get there is go to Shirakawa-go. You’re pics have made me super excited! X3 Thank you for putting these up, they’re going in my favorites!

    • punynari says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you liked it. (:
      Also, have fun in Japan!
      My years there were defiantly some of the best of my life. I’ll never forget them….

  30. Genet says:

    Oh my god I am a massive Higurashi fangirl. These pictures are fabulous- you are an EXCELLENT photographer!

    I had an opportunity to go to Japan this April (though I can’t, sadly) and I’d have really loved to get to go here.

    I had NO IDEA that Rika and Satoko’s house was based off a real location! This is just the coolest!

    I wonder if Shirakawa-go’s experienced a boost in tourism since Higurashi became popular?

  31. after watching when they cry im to scared to go there!!!! but it does look beautiful!!!!

  32. Chad says:

    I was totally surprised when a friend showed me this. Higurashi is one of my most favorite anime shows of all time! And to see that this Shirakawa-Go is just as real as the one in the series, this just made me put this town on top of my to-visit list in Japan. Thanks for sharing, Punynari! The photos gave me goosebumps XD

  33. Chad says:

    I hope you don’t mind me posting some of the pics here on my site ( but of course, with credit and links to you :D

  34. punynari says:

    Added 10 more pics to the end of the article. I hope you like them. (:

  35. Linkon18 says:

    I so want to visit it because Higurashi is the top Anime i have ever seen, unfortunatly im only 16 and i live in Sweden, so its a very long way to travel and im not old enough to travel alone so that will cost much more too :/ I want to visit it so badly :(

  36. vigil says:

    join the navy see the world…so that’s not propaganda!

    • punynari says:

      Yup. While I don’t enjoy everything about the Navy, I love the travel.
      Coming from a small town and a poor family, I would never have been able to see these things had I not joined. (:

  37. Tom says:

    I still love Higurashi.. after all these years. I think Higurashi is my favourite anime of all time! I definitely want to go there before I die, even though I’m only 16 >…<)

  38. Tom says:

    When I saw the anime and played the Sound Novels I didn’t understood it at all because I was 11 at the time =P last year, I rewatched/replayed the anime/Sound Novels again and I finally understood it.

    I just need to persuade my parents to go there! If they don’t want to go then I’ll just have to wait a few years and go by my own.. I’d like a friend to come with me though.. but unfortunately I don’t have any anime/manga/VN friends.. I’m the only one in my school that watches anime, I feel so lonely >..<)

    • punynari says:

      I haven’t played the visual novel yet. I think it just got released in English too. Maybe someday….

      I wish you luck on your future trip to Japan and hope that you do find someone to go with you. Sometimes anime fans are hard to find in real life but they are out there….though many may not talk about it much. ^^;

  39. Tom says:

    Maybe it’s my country, holland isn’t really that much of a cartoon-country =/

    I’ll also need luck, I need someone that lives in Shirakawa-go willing to let me sleep at their house =)

    I think I’ll just study Japanese for now, it will give me a huge benefit for later. This became quite a reply so I think I’ll just leave it for now..

    one more thing, punynari, if I go there and you are still doing these kind of posts, I’ll send all my pictures of this village to you so you can update this post and add Keiichi’s house and many more!

    Tom. (again, see my post at 22 august 2011 >.<)

    • punynari says:

      Learning Japanese is a good idea, especially for the trip to Shirakawa-go. Other anime pilgrimages too.
      Outside of big cities, sometimes it’s hard to find English speakers in Japan. ^^;

      Hope you do make it Tom. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
      I promise it will be worth it. Shirakawa-go was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. (:

  40. Tom says:

    Sorry for so many posts by the way.. somehow it couldn’t be send all in one post =S

  41. zeiroe says:

    Just got back from Shirakawa-go, this place sent chills down my spine ;)

  42. Durendaus says:

    Hi there, planning a trip to go there.
    I just want to ask, how big is the whole village?
    Will 4 hours be able to cover the village?

    Many thanks in advance.

    • punynari says:

      I think 4 hours would be plenty of time….if you just explore what I did.
      If you go to some of the places that I didn’t visit (like the clinic) it take longer though. ^^;

  43. Patrick says:

    Just made it out to Shirakawa-go myself on Tuesday, and it’s just as beautiful as your article made it out to be. I only had 4 1/2 hours to trek around the village (I made it a day trip from Shinagawa [Tokyo] to Shirakawa-go and back – 10 or 12 hours of travel in total), but it was definitely worth the trip :). For other people looking to go to Shirakawa-go, I must point out that (assuming you are a tourist) a JR rail pass is highly recommended. It costs around 28300 yen and can only be bought while overseas, but if you take the trip out to Shirakawa-go it pays itself off very quickly :). Still, wish I had gone to see the clinic, but I forgot to do so. Darn.

  44. jonathan says:

    I wonder what would happen if people go in the overlook (or in the town) in Higurashi cosplays?

  45. smokebear says:

    Wow! This is so awesome! I love the Higurashi and this place is really majestic.. I remember the scene where Rena hidden a body in some fridge. Is that place also do exist? And how about the school? Anyway, thank you for sharing this. This is great :)

  46. Rika Furude says:

    I am not joking when i say that the mere knowledge that Hinamizawa has a RL basis brought tears to my eyes. i am putting this as priory number one for my trip to japan. (^_^)

  47. Dominique says:

    I love “Higurashi” so much more now that I know that the setting is based on a real town. It gives it a more special feeling, like the characters really have lived here, the events did take place, and the visual novels are based on a true story. And those fan-made pictures at the “Furude Shrine”… ugh, if I visited this place, mine would be a note to the main characters of the series, telling them how brave and strong they all were to earn their happy ending!

  48. therealtingle says:

    Reblogged this on Nerd Girls IRL and commented:
    Finally finished the second seaons of Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, and at the end of the episode there were photos of a “real life Hinamizawa” so of course, I had to do some invistigation. Found this article and now I’m freaking out! I need to go here!

    IF this ever actually happens (though it is HIGHLY unlikely) you best believe I will be rocking my Mion Sonozaki cosplay ERRYDAY!

  49. luis says:

    Awsome photography! if i ever go to japan i will visit tokyo and Shirikawa!!!

  50. Tom says:

    Hey Punynari!

    It’s me, Tom, again :)
    It’s been a while since I posted here, about 10 months ago last time. I just wanted to tell you that I am going to Japan next March! I will go there as an exchange student and stay there for almost a whole year! I started learning Japanese about a half year ago and I now know almost all the Kana. I can’t wait til march! :) I’m just so happy :D I hope I’ll visit this village as well but I just don’t know yet where my host family will be. I hope it’s somewhere a little bit to the north-west of Tokyo so I can go to the nature and to the big city without having to go in the car for hours. I just wanted to tell you that :)

    さようなら, Tom

    • punynari says:

      Congratulations Tom,

      Japan is a wonderful place. I just know you will enjoy it.
      Quite an experience really.

      If you are lucky enough to be around Tokyo or Yokohama, the entire country of Japan is only a train ride away (or a plane ride for Okinawa).
      Have fun! (:

      • Tom says:

        Hello Andrew,

        I’m having a blast in Japan. Made many friends in school and it feels like I’m living the anime life! > . < Haven't been too Shirakawa-go though. I will visit this place in the summer holliday! I live in the Chiba prefecture so it's not too far away from all the interesting places =)
        Hope you're having a great time on all these islands you are visiting lately. I check out your pictures regularly. very interesting!


      • punynari says:

        Awesome! Glad you are having a wonderful time in Japan!
        Also hope you enjoy your trip to Shirakawa-go! ^_^

  51. Brianna says:

    Do You Know How Much Awsomeness You give Off For This?! You’er Amazing! I Am So Amazed By These, You Are An Excellent Photographer By The Way! Ugh! So Jealous! And I Have Three Questions!

    1- How Much Was It In American Dollars?~ ( The Trip I Mean )
    2- Where Did You Stay While You Were There?~
    3- How Long Were You There For?~

    Thank You!

    • punynari says:

      Glad you enjoyed it. I don’t recall how much this trip had cost me because it was so long ago.
      This was a quick trip. I was only there for a few hours and then had to make a made dash back to Yokosuka.
      If I still lived in Japan, I would have looked into lodging in Shirakawa-go or Takayama. Or at the very least, a hotel in Nagoya so that I could take more time to enjoy myself.

  52. Michael says:

    I’ve just got back from a 3-week holiday in Japan. I managed to fit in the Sailor Moon, Haruhi Suzumiya and Higurashi pilgrimages, and I have to say, those were the best three days of the whole trip :) I know it sounds a bit silly, but somehow I feel a deeper connection with the characters now that I’ve visited the places where they lived, fell in love and changed the fate of the world. And it was really heartwarming to see the signs that others feel the same way I do — most notably the wall of Higurashi plaques as in your photo above.

    I made sure to stay in Shirakawa overnight, which was a wonderful experience — the tourists are all gone, you’re alone with the real village, and as it’s so isolated, there is very little light pollution and it gets amazingly dark. The cries of the cicadas are just as impressive as the anime made them seem. And the farmhouses serve incredible meals (though the breakfast is very early, and I just wasn’t hungry enough yet).

    I reached the village via Kanazawa rather than Takayama; it’s worth mentioning as an alternative. If you’re staying in Kyoto or Osaka, then Kanazawa is easy to reach by JR train.

    Rather scarily, if you go via Kanazawa, the first anime location you will see — it’s on the bus’s route before you reach the village — is the spot where Rika gets hit by a truck in Saikoroshi.

    Near the bottom of your page, one photo is labelled just “This was one of the houses open to the public”. More than that. It’s the house on which the Sonozakis’ house is based, though you wouldn’t think it as the real house is so small! But the room where Mion “entertains” Rena and Keiichi in episode 8 is real.

    Interestingly, there are actually three shrines in Shirakawa: Hachiman Shrine (the Furude Shrine), Akiba Shrine in the centre of the village (doesn’t appear in the anime) and Tenryuuguu, in the woods just outside the village. It seemed to be abandoned, though I have no idea for how long. It’s obviously the origin of Rena’s family name (same kanji and all), but the anime doesn’t say anything about it.

    Finally, have a picture :)

    • punynari says:

      Thank you for your enlightening post. I never made it out to Kanazawa but I did intend to. I just ran out of time. ^^;
      Glad you had fun on your anime pilgrimage. They really do help you feel closer to the characters. It’s as if you had stepped into their world.

  53. Danny says:

    I probably would’ve pissed myself visiting there– Just looking at the photos and comparing them to the anime is giving me chills.

    Still– Very beautiful. Japan is definately one of the most beautiful places in the world.

  54. Cameron says:

    Wow. As nicely done as the illustration was, it’s still not as beautiful as the real town. Excellent photos, you have a good eye.

  55. Erik Sobek says:

    Hello! I am currently too young to travel to Shirikawa-go however Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni is an anime I feel so passionate about I really wish to go one day! I honestly wish to explore the romanticized landscape and the rural isolation that beckons imagination and induces vivid thought! I want to explore provocative scenery and explore the fundamental geography for the anime/manga. I would like to know if you have any tips for someone who’s never traveled before especially to an area like Japan.
    Most importantly it is 2013 right now i plan on visiting around 2015 or 2016 is Shirikawa-go a preserved site? Will all the iconic or even most of the iconic places exist? Does the population in Shirikawa-go recognize the anime? How many travelers enter Shirilawa-go just to admire the anime?

    • punynari says:

      I believe the houses in Shirakawa-go are preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, it’s been ages since I was there. I heard that it is more touristy now with a lot of the houses serving as gift shops. Oddly, when I was there, I could find no Higurashi merchandise in any of the shops. Of course, things may have changed.

      The foreign folks I saw, when I was there last, were mostly interested in the unique houses and country atmosphere. They didn’t mention any reference to the anime nor did any of the villagers. The only sign of anime recognition was at the shrine.

      As for tips when traveling to Japan, I recommend staying at the Toyoko Inn whenever possible. It was relatively cheap and the internet always worked. They have one in Nagoya so I might give that a look. Also, carry a lot of yen on you.

      Have fun in Japan. It was a wonderful place when I visited years ago.

  56. Dom says:


  57. Gilles says:

    Great inspiration town! Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing I hope one day I could be there

  58. Nuramoon says:

    yesterday i just come back from a visit to the town ,….. beautiful :3

  59. Amber Tan says:

    What season was it when you visited shirakawa-go? The shots are so beautiful! I’ll be there in another week. Can’t wait to witness this scenic view!

  60. Sanil says:

    When i saw these pictures i cryed. My favorite anime of all time.

  61. D says:

    Just finished watching higurashi yesterday. I wonder whether Shirakawa-go had a shrine with torture tools in it or not lol

  62. Xxan says:

    If I was to ever go there, I would never leave, you’d have to kill me and ship my body back, I would leave the rest of the world behind, and NEVER leave the village ever for any reason.
    Yes it IS possible to love someplace or some one you never been/met.
    As a child, I knew my life was over before it began, because I knew I could never be able to go to Japan and let be to live there.

    Maybe when I die, someone will take my ashes there and spread them behind the shrine and I could for once find peace.

    Heaven is real, and it’s name is Shirakawa-go AKA “Hinamizawa”

  63. IBM says:

    with all honesty I thought my friend was lying when he said hinamizawa (not sure if that was spelled correctly though) was actually based off of a real area near japan… or was it in japan…. I could never get that right anyway.

  64. Nitro says:

    Hi I am planning to go here soon! Just wondering how long you reccommend staying in this area, because im guessing you stayed 2 days since you had such an elaborate collection of photos of this place.

    • punynari says:

      Hi there. I recommend staying two days in the general area. That way you can sightsee Shirakawa-go, Takayama, and Kanazawa.
      Unfortunately, I only spent a few hours in Shirakawa-go with my camera on rapid-fire. I wish I could have taken my time and saw more of the town and Kanazawa as well.

      Have fun!

      • Nitro says:

        I certainly had lots of fun on my trip to japan! I went there for a full day and stayed overnight! There were way too many tourists though so it kinda weakened the charm of the place for a bit. But during the evening when all the crowds were gone, it brought out the full rustic feel of a village.

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