Discover the UNESCO Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Immerse yourself into the folk lives of UNESCO Shirakawa-go and Gokayama villages

Best view from the Ogimachi Castle ruins view point

The historic village of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. The 114 farmhouses are famous for preserving the traditional Gassho-zukuri style houses with the iconic A shaped thatched roofs built without nails, some of which are more than 300 years old.

The wisdom in gassho-zukuri design

Houses in this style is usually 18m long and 10m wide. The farmhouses are usually have 4 floors and the thatched roofs are sharp like 45 degree or more steep than that to withstand the weight of heavy snow in the winter. The name of the design is related to the Buddhism influence in Japan where it is called Gassho in Japanese because the thatched roofs looks like the hands in prayer. The Gassho-zukuri style roofs are reattached once in 40-50 years and even today three or four roofs are reattached each year with the cooperation of the whole village.

The main houses to visit in the Shirakawa-go village

Several Gassho-zukuri houses have been designated as important cultural properties and are open to the public.

Wada House (和田家) is the biggest house in the area, there are still people living in this house but 1st floor and 2nd is open to public, while Nagase House(長瀬家) and Kanda House(神田家) are also welcoming visitors and even serve hot teas in the house. It is recommended to choose one of the three houses to visit.

Wada House – image source from internet


Hot tea is served in the Kanda House – image source from internet


Nagase House Exhibition – Image source from internet

Myozenji Temple 明善寺


The biggest Gasho construction with 5 stories in the village built in 1748.
The roof of the main hall, the kitchen, the bell tower arch and all built with thatches in gassho-zukuri style and has an important status in the village. It is now open as museum to show the local folk living utensils with a welcoming fireplace at the ground floor. The temple is also raising the silkworm at the roof loft and it is interesting to visit.

Spring/Summer time is a great time to go as you can also see cherry blossoms and many blooming flowers in the area.

Here is a clip that I found on Youtube and it is perfectly showing the beauty of Shirakawa-go village in Spring time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77-KPx9PR5Y

Transport and Accommodation:

Take a Nohi Bus from Takayama, Kanazawa/Toyama bus centre to Shirakawago

The Gifu and Kaetsuno bus companies also go to the area and you can speak to our Japanese native experts to arrange. It is always good to book with us as we can provide english speaking guides along your journey and they are always happy to help.

Accommodation stay in the farmhouse transformed minsuku for the night is also an excellent experience if you have time to spend in the village.
On a special note, winter is another excellent time to go to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama villages. There will be lights up in the winter so it is worth it to stay the night in the winter season to experience the fairy tale like scene from the beautiful village. Make sure you book early for this as it is really popular and the accommodations in the village are filling up very quickly.

Lights up in Shirakawa-go village in winter
Source from the internet

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