Gokayama - Ainokura Day Trip Report

Old Sep 24th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Gokayama - Ainokura Day Trip Report

Yesterday - Sunday - we took a drive over to Ainokura. From Kanazawa, the drive took about 75 minutes using the expressway part of way. Toll was ¥1050 one-way.

There are two parking areas for tourists in Ainokura, as only local residents can drive vehicles inside the village. Parking costs 500 yen per car, more for buses, less for motorcycles.

Ainokura is much smaller than Shirakawa-go, and is mostly gassho houses, so it's very beautiful. The residents were friendly, and even though it was a Sunday, there weren't huge numbers of tourists there like there are in Shirakawa-go.

There are a variety of hiking paths. The one we chose was fairly steep and narrow and we only met one other man, who was visiting from Hiroshima. Friendly guy. The forest was quiet and cool, and we saw the most enormous crickets...they could jump at least a meter at a time.

We bought bottles of what I can only describe as cave water. The man who was selling it out of his house told us the water drips down from the caves and is filtered through the rocks and collected and bottled somehow...the taste was clean. Teaghan said it tasted like snow. Apparently it's loaded with minerals.

We visited the Folklore museum, which is housed in two gassho buildings almost across the street from each other. One is filled with everyday objects and you can go up to the second floor and see how the building is put together and how the roof is made. Interesting. It's a bit comical getting up and down from there...when we were there two quite old women were going up who had no trouble, but I thought it was a bit tricky. The ladders are very steep and the rungs are wrapped in straw and are quite slippery. There are two ladders, one marked for up and one for down. The other building is mostly filled with things about the paper which is made locally, which made the two girls want to make some paper, which we did later.

We saw a stone which has a Tengu (goblin) footprint in it...Teaghan and her friend both easily fit their feet into the impression in the rock. It looks just like a footprint...but about 2 inches deep into solid rock. Who knows, maybe it's real!

There are 8 places you can stay the night here, all but two I think are gassho houses. There are a few places to have local dishes for lunch, but we didn't eat as we arrived there after lunch...actually, the kids ate onigiri in the car and I ate gohei mochi...grilled pounded rice with sweet miso on a stick.

Then we went a bit further down the main road to paper factory. You can walk right into the factory area and you can try making your own paper for 500 yen per sheet. The kids each made a piece of white paper with maple leaves in it. It's a really interesting process...local tree bark is used and it's kind of cooked and soaked in lots of water and turns into this mushy goopy stuff. It passes through a series of machines and you end up with a sink filled with milky liquied that you then use a special tray to collect a bit and make the paper. Hard to explain. Fun to do. The staff there do not speak English, but I think you could manage by getsture no problem if you didn't speak Japanese.

We really liked this place...maybe more than Shirakawa-go. There are buses that go there from Takaoka station, but I couldn't find a schedule. I really think though that this area is best seen by car, or by joining a tour (gasp). We only passed one bus during our drive, and that one was marked Takaoka, which is how I know there is a bus.


Overall, a nice day. Lovely village. Beautiful views. Friendly people. We will go back.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2006, 05:51 PM
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Happy to hear you all had a great day. Looks like an interesting place.

When I took the bus from S-go back to Takaoka the bus driver stopped as I took a photo of some gassho zukuri houses out of the left side of the bus. I thought that it was Gokayama. Are Gokayama and Ainokura near each other, or is one a part of the other?
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Old Sep 24th, 2006, 06:56 PM
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Ainokura is part of Gokayama, but you cannot see this village from the main road. There are also the villages of Kamitaira and Toga that have things for sightseeing. We just happened to pick Ainokura (Taira).
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 09:25 PM
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Thanks KimJapan for this information. I have been researching this area and found this. I know this is an older thread but we may visit Ainokura this fall and wanted to add the bus site in case anyone researching was interested.



Kim have you been back since you wrote this and stayed in any of the gassho?

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Old Jul 8th, 2009, 12:35 AM
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We've been back many times, and seen all of the villages that make up Gokayama. All of them are nice, but we particularly like Sugunuma and Ainokura.

I would recommend doing this area by car rather than bus so you have the freedom to really explore the area, which is quite big. Buses are infrequent, and I've not seen a taxi there.

We haven't stayed a night there as it is so close to home, though we always say we'd like to. English is not widely spoken in the area, and it is much less touristy than Shirakawa-go. Locals are quite friendly.
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