Japan – the beauty of Kiso valley

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Kiso valley is the place where you can enjoy the mountain and those traditional Japanese gasho-style houses. Did the pointed roofs in the skirts of the mountain gain a special spot in our hearts, or did the locals’ hospitality? Let’s find out together!
The most convenient starting point to Kiso valley was the town of Nakatsugawa. We had a delicious dinner in and old-time restaurant and had breakfast with all the business people staying at the hotel. That kind of impressions were left by this non-touristy town with the perfect location to explore the nearby valley. Let’s not forget the taxis having this beautiful white embroidery all over the seat covers. Nakatsugawa was more than implying that we should move on to our next destination…

After one or two train rides we reached the famous village of Shirakawa-go containing a vast collection of well-preserved gasho-style houses.

Those pointed roofs save you from the heavy snow and chilly winters. But we were visiting the place during spring, when the lonely snow drifts were posing next to trees in blossom. One could smell the authentic atmosphere in the village, lots of souvenir shops and crowds were present though.


Fortunately there was no accommodation available for us in the gasho-zukuri houses. We set off to an alternative village and we turned out to be very lucky! First, there were only 20 houses around, well-preserved and just one shop serving the whole village. Second, all the highlights like the 20-day Stone (when it appears above the snow cover, spring will come in 20 days) and the tree that saved the village from avalanche, were easy to reach by hiking through the forest. All the efforts were rewarded with fantastic views of the secluded village. All the slopes around were turning green, we could even see few white and pink trees blossoming, reminding that the winter is over. The feeling of a small secret village, locked in mountains and hills reminded us of Machu Picchu. The only difference was that in the latter it was impossible to sleep (at least legally 🙂 ).

We were lucky enough to get accommodated in the last gasho in Kiso valley. Our hosts were a mother and daughter with small English vocabulary but with huge hearts! We were more than welcome. We were home! The freshly cooked dinner was made of traditional for the region vegetables, miso soup, sushi, trout (coming straight from the fire) and a few more delicious things. We watched the recordings from the last village festival, enjoyed the musical instruments and traditional dances, even received a lesson how to play traditional music. They taught us how to keep warm in the cold mountain winter (and spring!) nights and we moved to our bedrooms. All the walls in the house were actually sliding doors. One can redesign their house whatever they might feel like – that’s a common interior style in Japan. Mindful Japanese architecture!


This secluded village is a true gem! Mighty powerful nature, hospitable people who preserve their world cultural heritage!


Let the journey take you to  China - Li River cruise

Oh yes, the name of the village is Ainokura. Refreshed from our time there we were ready to dive into the big city. That’s why we headed to Kanazawa and Kyoto. Let’s explore them together! 🎎   👘  🌸

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