Shirakawa-Go And Gokayama:
The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The site is located in the Shogawa river valley stretching across the border of Gifu and Toyama Prefectures in central Japan. The Gokayama area is divided between the former villages of Kamitaira and Taira in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture. The village is famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. The Gassho-zukuri, “prayer-hands construction” style is characterized by a thatched and steeply slanting roof resembling two hands joined in prayer. The design is exceptionally strong and, in combination with the unique properties of the thatching, allow the houses to withstand and shed the weight of the region’s heavy snowfalls in winter.
The observatory at the site of Ogimachi Castle is a popular spot from which to view “Shirakawa-go Ogimachi village” where 59 houses are clustered. This upland vantage point is perfect for a panoramic view of the Gassho-style village in the verdure of spring, the tinted leaves of autumn or the snows of winter.
Not To Miss:
- Gassho-Zukuri House:
More than a dozen gassho-zukuri farmhouses in and around Ogimachi are now functioning as minshuku, family run, Japanese style lodgings. It is a great way to experience a traditional Japanese family home and get more intimate with gassho-zukuri buildings. Farmhouse stays in Shirakawago have become very popular, and it has become difficult to make reservations. Reservation attempts can be made through the website Japanese Guest Houses or the local tourist association.
Ogimachi is the largest village and main attraction of Shirakawa-go. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, the village is home to several dozen well preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. The farmhouses are quite amazing structures, designed to withstand the harsh winters while providing a place to work and live, and are best seen either covered in snow or surrounded by green fields.
- Shirakawa Winter Light Up:
The snow turns Shirakawago into an idyllic winter landscape. To make it even better, the village organizes special illumination events on selected Saturday and Sunday evenings in January and February that attract plenty of tourists. During the light-up event, many of the village’s gassho-zukuri farmhouses are lit up individually from 17:30 to 19:30, while the entire village is softly illuminated by floodlights until around 20:00.