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Komine Castle

Shirakawa (白河) is the southernmost city in Fukushima prefecture, with population of approximately 60,000 people.


The city developed as a castle town at the border of the civilized Kanto region and the wilder Tohoku to the north. There is a park and a memorial at the site where the barrier gate (白河関, Shirakawa-no-seki) is believed to have been.

The famous haiku poet Basho passed through Shirakawa on his travel to the north. See Narrow Road to the Deep North itinerary.

Get in[edit]

Shirakawa is served by the Tohoku Shinkansen, which stops at Shinshirakawa station. The journey from Tokyo takes about 90 minutes and costs around ¥6000 one way. Shirakawa is also served by the Tohoku Main Line, which links Shinshirakawa station with Shirakawa station. By car, the trip from Tokyo to Shirakawa takes around three hours using the Tohoku expressway. Regular highway buses [1][dead link] from Shinjuku also serve Shirakawa, arriving and departing from the Nishigo bus stop to the west of Shinshirakawa station. The journey costs ¥3400 one way, and takes three hours.

Get around[edit]

Although Shirakawa is not a large city and a circuit of town can be completed in about an hour, it is best explored by car, bus or taxi. Bus stops and taxi stands are located outside both Shirakawa and Shinshirakawa station. There is a JR car rental office at Shinshirakawa station.


Torii gate of Shirakawa Shrine, near the location of the barrier
  • 1 Komine Castle (小峰城) (about 5 minutes walk from Shirakawa station.). A reconstruction of a 17th-century castle. Komine Castle (Q522630) on Wikidata Komine Castle on Wikipedia
  • 2 Nanko Park (南湖公園). Claimed to be one of the first officially named parks in Japan, with a traditional garden and teahouse. Access to Nanko park is free, but a small fee is charged for entry to the garden and teahouse (Kyorakutei). Nanko Park (Q11408225) on Wikidata Nanko Park on Wikipedia
  • 3 Shirakawa no seki (白河関 Shirakawa Barrier), in a park to the south of the city. Believed to be the site of the ancient barrier between the unconquered north and the capital region of Kanto to the south. The poet Basho is said to have visited here. Shirakawa Barrier (Q1191339) on Wikidata Shirakawa Barrier on Wikipedia


While Shirakawa does not have a lot of attractions, it is a pleasant rural city, close to several local attractions. (See the "Go next" section below).

Daruma Ichi is held on the National Foundation Day (11th February) of each year. During this festival, daruma (traditional papier mache dolls) are sold in the streets of Motomachi. According to tradition (and the local sellers), a larger doll should be purchased each year.

Chochin Matsuri (Lantern Festival) is held between September 13 and 15 of every second year, in odd-numbered years. A smaller festival is being trialled for intervening years. During this festival, representatives from each of the villages making up the city parade through the streets carrying lanterns and mikoshi (portable shrines). The highlight of the festival is on the last night, when the parade wades through the Abukuma river to the Renhouji temple (聯芳寺).


  • Shirakawa is famous in the region for its unique daruma (round-shaped wooden doll) design. Various sizes of these dolls are available from shops in the older part of town. Prices start at ¥200 for small daruma.
  • Local residents also pride themselves on their ramen (Chinese-style noodles), and although they may not be a suitable souvenir, they do make an excellent lunch.
  • Shirakawa is also home to several local sake breweries. Bottles of local sake can be bought from about ¥1000 at several shops in town, including Yamaya at the Mega Stage shopping mall.


Shirakawa is famous in the region for it's ramen noodles. There are claimed to be more than 100 ramen shops in the city.

  • Hanabusa (), Nibancho 6 (二番町6) (500 m (1,600 ft) from the central post office on Route 294), +81 248-22-1250. Various kinds of ramen and gyouza (dumplings) are served here Large bowls of ramen start from about ¥700.
  • Rire bros. (リールブロス), 24 Noboricho (登り町24), +81 80-6579-0536. A variety of Japanese and Western set meals are available with soup and rice at \1100. Add a dessert at +\250.


Shirakawa has several sake breweries, and it is possible to try local sake at one of the many izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) in town.

  • Shirakawa Beer Station (白河ビアステーション) (on a rooftop adjacent to the Promise and NTT Buildings which can be identified by its red lanterns). 17:00-23:00, summer only. closed on rain. Sells snacks and large pitchers of beer for about ¥1100. Beer Station has a friendly atmosphere complete with photo-phobic dog Rabuchan. It is only open during summer, from about 5pm, but can vary randomly according to the owner's whim.
  • Cariboo, +81 248-21-9333. Nakamachi 42, Basement of the Shirai Building (中町42白井ビル地下), is a Jamaican bar with occasional live DJs playing reggae music. The owner's wife is Jamaican, and makes a good range of light meals, including Jerk Chicken and Pepper Shrimp. Red stripe beer is available (¥680), as are a variety of rums (from ¥500). Downstairs opposite the Joyo Bank in by Shirakawa station. Look for the English sign.


Shirakawa has several hotels, mainly close to Shinshirakawa station.

  • Toyoko Inn. The local branch of this business hotel chain, with rooms starting from about ¥4600 for a single. Doubles are available for about ¥6800.
  • Shirakawa Business Hotel (白河ビジネスホテル). Near Shirakawa station, about three minutes walking distance. The management is targeting the hotel as the alternative to Taxis and Daikos due to the abundances of snacks, bars and traditional Japanese restaurants nearby (1 minute from the Beer Station and Cariboo). (Singles about ¥4000, twins about ¥6500). They offer a group discount and free WiFi in all rooms.
  • Tokyo Daiichi Hotel Shin-Shirakawa (東京第一ホテル新白河). In front of the Shin-Shirakawa station.


Shirakawa City Tourism Section 0248-22-1111 (Japanese only); Shirakawa City Office, 7-1 Hachiman-koji Shirakawa city.

The city has a Japanese only tourist information site with Google Translate.

Japan Travel Phone is a service provided by the Japan National Tourist Office. They have English language operators from 09:00 to 17:00 daily. 0088-22-4800.

Go next[edit]

Shirakawa is close to the ski and hot springs resorts of Hatoriko and Mount Jeans. Numerous restaurants, cafes, animal parks and theme parks are located in neighboring Nasu town, in Tochigi prefecture.

Routes through Shirakawa
SendaiKoriyama  N  S  Nasu-ShiobaraTokyo
FukushimaSukagawa  N  S  KurodaharaNasu-ShiobaraUtsunomiya
FukushimaSukagawa  N  S  NasuNishinasuno ShiobaraUtsunomiya

This city travel guide to Shirakawa is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.