[2020 light-up] Photo shooting spots and observation deck guide

Photo shooting spots and observation deck guide for light up

The annual light-up event is coming, thanks everyone for your understanding, cooperating and supporting of the policy change this year. We are grateful for your kindness.

Shirakawa-go is a small village, but it would turn into a different world when snowing. All the roads and paths will be covered by snow, therefore for the first-time travelers, we are going to introduce the attractions for photo shooting and the dos and don’ts in the village.

The recommend photo shooting spots

There is not only observation deck but also other nice photo shooting spots in Shirakawago. If you are suitable or not able to go to the observation deck (people who are too young, elder people or do not have an observation deck ticket), here are some other places we recommend to have a walk in the village.

Most of the travelers are coming from the north direction, therefore the right side of the map is the west side and the left side of the map is the east side.

The attractions can be categorized by two parts, the east part and west part. The most famous sightseeing place of the west part is “three little houses”. The East part is Myozenji, Wada house Kanda house and Bunzuke.

The three little houses

It’s the furthest attraction from the bus stop, it takes 20 minutes to go in winter. In the bad weather and the crowded light-up day, this attraction and observation will be a dilemma if you don’t have enough time in the village. Usually, we would recommend to line up and go to the observation deck first then come here after, due to the reason that observation deck takes longer time (about 50 minutes).

Kanda house

If you go up to the higher place, you can take a photo of three Gassho-Zukuri houses together. Kanda house is one of the few large Gassho-Zukuri houses that is preserved well and being a museum. What’s more, the Nagase house behind Kanda house is also a nice shooting spot. What’s more, at another side of Kanda house is the cafe we introduced before “Ochudo”, for more information please see the article below.

Wada house

It’s the nearest attraction of bus stop and the main street. few tips for taking the snowing photos, you can lower your shutter to capture the path of the snow or use the flashlight to capture the reflection of the snow.


It’s a perfect picture spot, with the right angle you can take a picture of many Gassho-Zukuri houses that are connected in a row. Besides, if you are lucky enough and the weather is fine the field isn’t covered by snow, you can also take a photo of the Myozenji and its reflection in the water.

Therefore, please note that only walk on the road, don’t walk in the snow. If it snows heavily the field might be buried, it would be dangerous to walk on the snow because you don’t know what’s underneath.

Here comes the quiz: this is the angle of shooting Myozenji, in the right position you can take five Gassho-Zukuri houses altogether, the view in winter time must be more beautiful. Try to find where is it.


This is the place near the observation deck, it’s another combination of three houses. If you want to take a photo with the light and dark blue sky, please take a photo at the moment when it just sunset, at that time the sky is a little bright and the color is the best.

in the village during light- up event

  1. Please be careful when walking in the village, only walk on the road.
  2. Most of the house in the village (including Gassho-Zukuri houses) are privately owned, please respect the local people and don’t bother them.
  3. Please line-up and be respectful to everyone while taking a photo.

Wish everyone can have a wonderful light-up day.

The observation deck (Only for ticket holders)

When you first arrive, you will see a sign written “the observation deck”, by following the sign you will come to a place in the front of a restaurant, and this is one of the spots with a great view that can see the whole village. However, this place is privately owned, every year it would be rented by a photography team, and base on the experience the first three rows will be occupied by them. So that the normal travelers would only have limited space.

Shirakawago photo shooting spots

The red area is the place for the photography team.

Please line up first in order to come into this observation deck because it’s small and there will be a photo taking services (1500 yen for each time). You can also use your own mobile phone and camera, the staffs will happy to help you to take pictures.

Due to the reasons mentioned above, there are two more places that we would recommend. Please go to the right side when you get off the bus and go to the No.2 and No3 observation places. These two places are wider and there are fewer people, and the views are only slightly different from the No.1 place.

Here you can see the differences.

After taking photos, please go down from the observation deck by walking, you can follow the yellow line and heading to that direction to go back to the village, it would take about 30 minutes. Because the slope will be slippery during winter time, please remember to wear waterproof and slippery-proof shoes.

on the observation deck

  1. Please follow the rules, line up and don’t push
  2. Please be careful when you’re walking.
  3. During light up time (17:30-19:30) please do not use the tripod at the observation deck.
  4. Usually, the shuttle buses are only available for coming up to the observation deck, everyone needs to walk back to the village (it takes about  15-20 minutes). Please pay attention and follow the staffs’ instructions.