For years, I’ve wanted to see the old-fashioned farmhouse hamlet of Shirakawa-go all lit up at night in the snow, and this week I got half my wish.
It turns out that ever since it was named a Unesco World Heritage Site, viewing the farmhouses lit up at night has become such a crazy tourist madhouse that you can only see it now on official tours, and by the time my friend Mika and I tried to book, they’d all been snapped up this winter by mainland Chinese on their annual New Year’s holidays. We managed to snag two bus seats for a little daytime walkabout, which was lovely, but we didn’t get to see them at night.
If you want to see the Shirakawago village lit up at night, here’s the email address for booking tickets on the night tour bus: email@example.com. It costs ¥5,980 for a round-trip ticket, leaving from Kanazawa Station at 15:30, giving you from 16:50 – 19:10 to walk around the village, and returning to the station at 20:30. A bento bus dinner is included in the price. The difficult bits are booking early enough so you get a spot, and paying them. They don’t take credit cards, so you have to pay cash no later than 24 hours before you leave. Which means you need to be in Kanazawa the day before your trip and go to their office to hand over the loot.
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist