The Magical Shirakawa-go
Written by: Zhafira Aqyla
Now that the winter has come, plenty of you are probably looking into visiting Shirakawa-go, which is one the most popular UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan and an all-time favorite destination for those who want to see a fairy-tale-like snow village that you cannot see anywhere else in Japan.
Here are some recommended Muslim-friendly accommodation and restaurants you can put on your list when visiting Shirakawa-go.
We will start with reviewing the accommodation and restaurants at Takayama, which is the final train stop for those who want to visit Shirakawa-go and where most tourists stay.
Takayama Ouan Hotel
Takayama Ouan Hotel is only 5-7 minute by foot from JR Takayama Station and it is famous for their private onsen service. Getting into the onsen is a cultural practice among Japanese during the winter since it can help rejuvenate the body after spending the day out in the cold.
However, since onsen is generally a public bath service, which many Muslims are not accustomed to, private onsen is typically preferred. Fortunately, Takayama Ouan Hotel has 3 different kinds of private onsen rooms that guests can use for free. Depending on which one you choose, the private onsen can fit from 2-6 people.
All you need to do is bring your towel and if you are lucky, you can get in right away! If it’s occupied, you don’t have to wait too long. Guests are only allowed 30 minutes each turn, so you can simply wait while enjoying the nice view at the lounge.
Additionally, the breakfast service in Takayama Ouan Hotel is buffet style. This means, you can select your own Muslim-friendly meal such as vegetables, fish, and fruit.
Restaurants in Takayama
Soba Kofune is located 2 minutes away from JR Takayama Station and they are extremely popular for their traditional soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat flour. The restaurant is Muslim-friendly because they provide alcohol-free noodle broth for Muslim customers for about ¥1800.
However, it is important to note that the Hida beef provided in the English menu is not Halal. That being said, the vegetables and shrimp tempura soba is just as delicious and it is perfect to warm your body after a long day of activities.
If you feel sad about not being able to taste the Hida beef at Kofune, don’t worry, because you can try the Hida beef rice bowl menu at Kyoshi, Takayama. Kyoshi is a sushi restaurant located only 5 minutes away from the famous Takayama Old Town museum. Although Kyoshi specializes in sushi, they also offer 1 halal menu for ¥1980, which is the Halal Hida Beef Bowl.
We absolutely recommend getting the Hida Beef Bowl because the delicious Hida Beef which melts right in your mouth is native to the Gifu prefecture and Kyoshi might be the only place that has a Halal option.
Other than the beef, you can also try the sushi. However, the chef has confirmed that the shoyu contains alcohol, which means you can either order without it or bring your own Halal shoyu from home.
Be Careful of Closed Restaurants
Aside from Soba Kofune and Kyoshi, there are many other Muslim-friendly restaurants in Takayama and Shirakawa-go that are listed by the Chubu District Transport Bureau and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. However, we advise that you call them beforehand since many restaurants have closed or stopped offering Halal menus due to the pandemic.
Restaurants in Shirakawa-go
You can go to Shirakawa-go from Takayama by taking the bus from the JR Takayama station. The trip takes about 50 minutes and you can get a roundtrip ticket for ¥5200 per person.
We took the 7.50 AM bus and spent about 3-4 hours there, which was enough time to enjoy the small, magical-like snow village. While we were there, we visited the famous Heritage Museum Minkaen and had lunch at Irori, a restaurant which offers Japanese traditional dishes and has vegetarian options with no alcohol seasoning.
We ordered the highly recommended tofu set menu for about ¥1800 and we received a tray full of broiled tofu, fried fish, rice, soba, and two vegetable side dishes. It was a nice way to end our day at Shirakawa-go.
There you go! The key to Halal travel during your stay is to look for this sticker in the restaurants.
If you see the sticker, it means the restaurants will most likely have Muslim-friendly menu, or even have a prayer space for you. However, due to the pandemic. Make sure to always check in with the restaurants you’re going to visit just in case.
Find out another journey of us exploring Muslim-friendly Hida City, inspired location of the famous anime movie “Your Name”.
Enjoy your trip!