Don’t worry, I’ll get to the naked guys towards the end.
Shirakawa-go is a village in Gifu prefecture. I’ve had a fascination with the thatched roofs on the houses in the village for some time and now I can cross seeing them off my bucket list. The area gets a whole lot of snow, which the skiers love but the tour guides don’t, and the roofs are supposed to last against the snow for several winters.
The roofs get changed every 20 or 30 years and the cost for changing one roof is a whopping 200,000 dollars! Some of the houses are more than 250 years old. Many of them have been turned into guest houses, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
I went on a bus tour that the hostel owners recommended, which I decided on because I got a discount.
The village itself is smaller than I thought it would be. We spent about two hours there, plenty of time for great pictures.
Later that day, I took a train to Gero, a famous hot spring town. There are plenty of spas ranging from the high end in pricey hotels to free ones in the middle of town by the river.
I went to Gero with a friend because he heard about a free bathhouse where you could wear swimsuits. We didn’t realize it would be out in the open next to a bridge. I didn’t have a swimsuit but I figured I could still check it out. But as we got closer, we realized a few of the men in the hot spring were completely naked.
Yes you read that correctly, 3 of the men were just hanging out in the middle of town with no clothes on.
According to my friend, the water was hotter than a hot tub and the men were in and out of the pool. I’m not sure if anyone goes out to the clean it since it is open all the time. It would probably be really fun in the winter with the snow falling around town.
We went to the town on a Monday, which probably explained why many of the restaurants were closed. We found one yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers) place that was open and did our best to order since neither of us could read Japanese. We just pointed at descriptions and hoped for the best. We got two different types of chicken and what we believed was pork. All of it was delicious and you could get three skewers for only about four dollars.