Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture

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Domo arigato.
  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Sign Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Sign Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village

    Shirakawago Village

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Rice Field

    Shirakawago Village Rice Field

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Attic of a Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouse

    Shirakawago Village Attic of a Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouse

  • Shirakawago Village Attic of a Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouse Wada House

    Shirakawago Village Attic of a Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouse (Wada House)

  • Shirakawago Village Roof-Rethatching of a Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouse

    Shirakawago Village Roof-Rethatching of a Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouse

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Koi Fish Pond

    Shirakawago Village Koi Fish Pond

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

    Shirakawago Village Gassho-Zukuri Farmhouses

  • Deai Bridge crossing the Shokawa River in Shirakawago

    Deai Bridge crossing the Shokawa River, Shirakawago

  • Shirakawago Shokawa River

    Shirakawago Shokawa River

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Facts & Figures

Shirakawa-go was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The Shirakawa-go area consists of three historic villages, which are Ogimachi, Ainokura and Suganuma. These villages are located in the remote Shogawa River Valley, which can be found in a mountain area that stretches from Gifu to the Toyama Prefecture. Japan Rail PassSince 2004 I travel nearly every year to Japan. The rail pass made my life easier to discover all those amazing places in my favourite country. The place is famous for the traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Some of them are older than 250 years. The houses are the only examples of their kind in Japan. The word Gassho-zukuri comes from "constructed like hands in prayer" and describes the typical roof shape of these buildings. It was created to withstand the heavy snowfalls in this region. The straw of the steeply thatched roofs must be replaced every 20 years. The total number of these unique houses is 114 and app. 600 people still living there. It is easy to see why 1.5 million visitors from all over the world arrive here every year to enjoy this amazing sight.

History

This small settlement of the Shirakawa-go village got its name from a traditional Japanese word that locals used for the region during ancient times. The oldest traces of human existence in the village can be dated back between 7000 B.C. and 2300 B.C. Therefore the place is a perfect representation of how people must have lived in a traditional Japanese rural settlement during ancient times. However, the name Shirakawa-go was not mentioned in historical documents until 1176. The mountain village was surrounded by hills, which implies that much of the area was forested and agriculture was only practiced for purposes of providing food for the locals. Most of the Gassho-zukuri houses were built about 200-300 years ago. Despite the drastic economic and social changes that have occurred in Japan over the years, the village of Shirakawa-go is still miraculously standing. As a result, the settlement has preserved the spirit and the archeological evidence of Japan’s long, eventful and interesting history.

Location

Map of Japan

Shirakawa-go is located at the foot of Mount Haku-san in the northwestern part of the Gifu Prefecture.
Address: Ogimachi, Shirakawa-mura, Ono-gun 501-5627 Gifu prefecture

How to get to Shirakawa-go?

  • 1hr from Takayama to Shirakawa-go by Nohi Bus

Sightseeing spots in Shirakawa-go

Top:

Ogimachi Village - It is the main attraction and largest village of Shirakawa-go with the most Gassho-zukuri houses.

Wada House - This well-preserved Gassho-zukuri house received the status of a Important Cultural Property. It was constructed during the Edo period (1603 - 1868) and is open for visitors.

Shiroyama Observation Deck - It is located on the remaining parts of the Ogimachi Castle and offers amazing views over the village.

Tenshukaku Observatory - Another observatory with great views over the Ogimachi Village. For an easy access you can use a shuttle bus from the Wada House.

Shirakawa Kaido Street - The main street of the village offers food stalls and souvenir shops.

Nearby:

Gokayama - Just 10km north of Ogimachi is the Gokayama area (UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its beautiful villages - Ainokura and Suganuma - located. It is easy to describe these places: less touristy, beautiful Gassho-zukuri houses and scenery. My tip for food lovers: Try out the delicious local soba noodles and tofu.

Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)

January/February

Winter Light-Up/Illumination event
Only on few Monday and Sunday nights in January and February you can enjoy these illumination events. Most of the Gassho-zukuri houses in Ogimachi are illuminated from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm. It is a beautiful sight in contrast to the deep snow covering the whole area. Important: You have to make a reservation in advance.

October

Doburoku Matsuri Festival (14th - 19th)
Giving thanks to the autumn harvest. Doburoku is a special type of white, unrefined sake and it is served to visitors of the festival.

Where to stay in Shirakawag-o?

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I am visiting Japan nearly every year since 2004. This is my collection of the 100 best moments in my favourite country. Enjoy the pictures and I hope you will start your own journey soon.
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