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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the trees obscured the “anime view” a bit but it was definitely a level up in dorkism for me.
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. ^^;
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.
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.
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.
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. ^_^;
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.
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.
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. ^_^;
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. (:
Sorry for being such a dork. I looked everywhere for that “iconic” water wheel…
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…. (:
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). ^^;
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. ^^;
A country graveyard in this small rural town.
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 ^^;
Another of the unique houses in Shirakawa-go…..
Beautiful hydrangea flowers. (:
Entry here is forbidden….unless you want to be cursed. =p
Rural fields on the outskirts. They are frequently shown in the anime….
One final look at Shirakawa-go. I hope you enjoyed it. (: