Shirakawago

Shirakawago is a beautiful village situated in the Gifu prefecture surrounded by mountains and lush greenery. Lying along the banks of the Shogawa River at the foot of Mount Haku (Hakusan), this village still maintains the Japanese traditional thatched farmhouses in gassho-zukuri architecture. This architecture has the roofs in the shape of inverted V like folded hands while praying’. The village is selected as one of the world heritage sites of Japan by UNESCO. The unique architecture of these houses with the special Minka style roofing is the attraction of this heritage village.

Sericulture

Along with paddy and other small scale cultivations, Sericulture is one of the main activities done in this area. Upper floors of the houses have space to keep the silkworms and mulberries for feeding them. The particular structure of these houses helps to withstand the heavy snowfall. The thick roofs made of grass can hold the heavy snow over it without causing any damage to the house. The windows located just beneath the roofs help the cultivation of silkworms by providing enough sunlight, wind and warmth.

 

Ogimachi

Ogimachi village is the number one attractions of the Shirakawago village. Ogimachi has many thatched houses preserved there. This place is blessed with its beautiful scenery created by the houses, fields, surrounding mountain, forests, and the Shogawa River. Parking area is situated near the ‘Michi no eki’ plaza. From there, travelers can access the Ogimachi by crossing a suspension bridge across the Shogawa. The entrance gate of Akiba Jinja welcomes you to the Ogimachi village. Minshuku Inn of Ogimachi provides travelers with an opportunity to spend an entire night inside it experiencing the life in the farmhouses. Visitors will be served with food, sake etc. during their stay along with enjoying the night beauty of Shirakawago.

Most of the houses in this village are now serving as souvenir shops, inns and museums. There are some important structures maintained here and opened to public. The oldest and the biggest among these houses is the Wada house which will be opened to the public from 9am to 5pm only with an entrance fee of 300 yen (150yen for children). It is the house owned by the wealtheist family of ancient Shirakawago. Through the windows of the house, we can enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding paddy fields and houses behind it. Myozenji kyodokan is a museum associated with Myosenji Temple of Ogimachi. The temple premises have gates and bell towers inside it along with the small worship area. There is a huge house for the priests’ aside the temple area which serves as a museum now. Many agricultural accessories used in ancient Japan like carts, ropes, vessels etc. are displayed inside this house

Shiroyama view point

There is an observation point over the mountain from where we can enjoy the beauty of this village at its peak. Travellers can either walk up to the Shiroyama view point or can take your on vehicles if travelling by private vehicles. Buses are making stops at the parking area near the view point. It is really an amazing sight that we could get from this place. From the top, the entire farmhouses (fifty farmhouses of Ogimachi village) could be seen together. In summer or spring, the houses in greenish background will let you think that it is a huge beautiful artistic creation. In winter the colour will be white with all the thatched roofs filled with thick snow and this creates the feel of another winter painting.

Seasonal beauty

During the spring season and early summer, Shirakawago will be filled with greenery and colourful flowers all around with the surroundings glittered up in the sun shine. Winter adorns this area like a fantasy village. We can experience the snow filled roofs and grounds of this village as if it is painting done by some artists. There are options to stay in one of these gasho-zukuri houses overnight. Staying here during a winter night brings you to a magical world as if you are in a dream. Stay in one of these thatched houses lighted up with lamps in the white snow filled area with the local food served there makes your trip worthy and memorable. It will be an evergreen experience in your entire life. Autumn fills the mountain ranges and surroundings with a colourful background in reddish and yellowish shades.

Other attractions

Miboro dam and Hirase Onsen are other attractions for the Shirakawago visitors. Japan’s first largest dam named Miboro dam is situated is famous for the unique construction using rock and clay. There is a famous Onsen and a dam situated in the Shirakawago village. The Hirase onsen which has Sulphur and Sodium chloride content in its water which is said to smoothen the skin and make it healthy.

Access:

From JR Takayama station (60min):  by Nohi bus or Hokutetsu railway bus (2470 yen)

From JR Kanazawa station (75min): by Nohi bus or Hokutetsu railway bus (1850 yen)

Directly from Nagoya (3 hrs): Meitetsu buses from Nagoya to Shirakawago (2 buses per day. Cost: 3600 yen)

Website: http://shirakawa-go.org/english