Shirakawa-Mura is an area in North Gifu prefecture, which borders Toyama, and is the home to some unique thatched houses, which are, of course, a World Heritage Site.

The houses were nice and the town was very quaint. However, the best bit…the best bit was the drive there! Over rolling mountains and around beautiful green lakes; it really was spectacular.

On arrival in the village we were overwhelmed by the lack of parking facilities for a place in the middle of bloody nowhere. Every space that looked like a car park also held a rather aggressive sign saying that we would be charged in excess of £10,000 for parking there. Seemed a little on the steep side…a classically passive aggressive approach to tourists, I think.

Eventually we found a place without the costly sign and only a small ‘No Parking’ plaque which we could easily enough ignore. We started exploring. First stop, the toilets. Always a pleasure. Next up, a very crowded road crammed full of tourist and tourist type shops (selling mainly goods from China). Not really my cup of tea.

“Sod this, let’s head up that hill / mountain” I said. Much to Dan’s delight. So off we trotted, into the wood and away from the thatched cottages we’d travelled all this way to see. Lovely. We came out near the car on the edge of the village, and really took in the view this time. It was beautiful and the cottages strewn across the valley did look very lovely and ‘chocolate box’ pretty.

Still, it was a long drive for the loo and a woodland walk! But a drive that was worth it, nonetheless.

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