Gokayama is a village that has earned Unesco Heritage status. In Japan these two villages are called twin villages, with the same house and culture. The difference is that Gokayama tours are smaller and have fewer houses.

In general, Gokayama tourism is indeed quieter, not many tourists visit, but for me personally, Gokayama is more fun to visit. This village is quieter and quieter, so the serene atmosphere is felt. Due to its more secluded location and calmer atmosphere, if in Shirakawago there are hundreds of houses, in Gokayama there are only 20 houses on average in the village.

In general, the characteristics of the inhabitants and culture of Shirakawago and Gokayama are still the same. Gokayama residents are the same as Shirakawago residents who work as farmers. The fields and rice fields of the Gokayama residents are around the village on the hillsides that surround the village. There are two areas in Gokayama that are commonly visited, namely Suganuma and Ainokura. All are small villages that form a cluster and only dozens of houses. In Gokayama alone I visited Ainokura. A small complex with twenty houses.

When compared, between Shirakawago and Gokayama has a fundamental difference. Shirakawago is more touristy and provides many options for sightseeing, while Gokayama is quieter and suitable for lovers of tranquility. However, keep in mind that both have a strong attraction, if visiting this area is very possible to visit both and if you have a lot of time, why not visit both right?

Heading to Gokayama

There are several ways to visit Gokayama, but the fastest way is by bus and the World Heritage Bus is the best option. This bus route is from Takaoka to Gokayama and ends at Shirakawago. For Shinkansen users or JR Pass holders, this route is the easiest and fastest route, from Tokyo you can go directly to Shin-Takaoka Station by Shinkansen and then change by using this bus. This route is the fastest to Gokayama and Shirakawago when compared to having to transit via Takayama.

Interesting Things in Gokayama

There are several things to do in Gokayama. For me personally, just enjoying this village is the most interesting thing, of course because I like serenity and this village for me personally is the embodiment of the word beautiful. Yes, even if you don’t want to enjoy attractions, visiting this village and enjoying the village simply is also an interesting thing to enjoy.

The first thing to do in Gokayama especially in the Suganuma area is to go to the viewpoint. This place serves as a vantage point to see the entire Suganuma area. From the village it only takes 10 minutes of trekking to reach this place and from this point the whole view of Suganuma from the village to the mountains is clearly visible. Being in this area made me gasp for a while and could only shake my head at the sight.

After leaving this place, I headed to the houses in Suganuma. Gokayama and Shirakawago have identical twin houses, Gassho. The construction and interior are exactly the same, there is no difference.

Inside the house, I was greeted by the Gokayama boys who were about to put on an art show. Well, this is another attraction of Gokayama, visitors can watch the Kokiriko performance – bushi or folk song chanting. These songs are played by Gokayama boys and with the main performer bringing Gokayama’s signature instrument called Sasara which produces a unique and distinctive sound.

Sasara is a wooden musical instrument with a complicated shape. The wooden slats are arranged to be flexible and played by shaking them. The main performer plays sasara and sings a song which, according to the guide, is a message about the values ​​of life in Gokayama.

Enjoying Gokayama is enjoying village life and its simplicity. After enjoying the musical performances, what can be enjoyed next is to see how the Gokayama people have maintained their culture for hundreds of years, one of which is trying on Gokayama’s cold clothes.

To ward off the cold, the Gokayama residents make warm clothes from dry grass that are woven so intricately. It is shaped like a long poncho with a head covering. Warm clothes are usually worn when facing cold weather and snow. When I tried it at minus degrees Celsius, it turned out that this grass dress was very effective in expelling the cold. For me, this traditional dress is unique, because usually traditional cold clothes are made of animal skins. The pair of this outfit are snow boots which are also made of woven dry grass. Maybe this is the traditional Gokayama sweater.


Enjoying the Gokayama tour will leave a distinct impression. Calm, quiet and close to the culture. If you don’t like the touristy Shirakawago, staying in Gokayama offers a serenity that is not found in Shirakawago. The people of Gokayama are also very pleasant, smiling and friendly.

From a cultural perspective, visitors can get closer to Gokayama’s culture. Because what is the main dish in Gokayama is the culture. The residents hope that by introducing the culture the visitors can enjoy the real Gokayama.