Shirakawa-go - Japan Travel Guide - Japanspecialist

Shirakawa-go

Old Japan comes alive.

About Shirakawa-go
Shirakawa-go is set among remote mountains in a scenic valley on the Shogawa River. The area is UNESCO-protected and is located in the sparsely populated northern centre of Honshu main island. The old farmhouses, scattered in the valley, have a unique structure and are still actively used.

Unique architecture, traditional craftsmanship and warm hospitality
Shirakawa-go is famous for its special 'gassho-zukuri' farmhouses that are UNESCO-protected as an important part of the world's cultural heritage. The houses are put together completely without the use of nails according to ancient craftsmanship, and they are built to be cool in summer and warm in winter. The distinctive pointed thatch roof has been developed to withstand the heavy snow in the region, and the houses have four floors - the upper one was used to cultivate silkworms in older times. The houses are up to 250 years old and there is a total of about 150 in the valley. Many of the houses are still actively used, but some are protected and open to the public. If you want to see the whole village from above, the best observation point is Ogimachi Castle ruins. If you spend the night in the area, you can look forward to a special experience - the family-run guest houses give you a feel of having stepped far back in time. Night at the open-air museum, as it were.

Other landmarks in Shirakawa-go
In the Gasshozukuri Minkaen Outdoor Museum, you can visit 25 gassho-zukuri houses that were relocated from the Kazura district in 1972. In some of the houses, you can experience traditional crafts such as fabric dyeing and weaving. It is also possible to try making handicrafts yourself if you reserve a time in advance.

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