Shirakawa-go is located at the Ogi-Machi in the Ono District in Gifu Prefecture. The village is famous for their traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. About 100 Gassho-zukuri farmhouses are remained in the village, and even in nowadays, some of the locals are still living in the Gassho-zukuri farm houses.
Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer”, as the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style developed over many generations and is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter. The roofs, made without nails, provided a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms. Shirakawa-go is a unique site and unlike any other area we visited in Japan, although nearby Gokayama is somewhat similar but a smaller site.
Processing the most original and beautiful scenery in Japan, Shirakawa-go was chosen to be the Important Preservation District in 1976. What’s more, it has been enlisted as one of the UNESCO world heritages together with Gokayama in Toyama Prefecture in 1995. Not only due to the architecture and the landscape in the area, but also the spirit of the locals was highly appreciated, which directed them to the above titles.
Shirakawa-go, ‘the Japan’s hometown’, is a place where you can admire the natural landscape and experience the rural culture and livelihood. Being a UNESCO world heritage site, this place was gorgeous.
We booked the Shirakawa-go Nohi Bus via Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass. The one way trip takes 75 minutes and costs 1,850 yen, while a round trip ticket is available for 3,290 yen. The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these buses, but the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass is covered the fare (round trip).
The reservation can be done a day before at Nohi Bus ticket office at Kanazawa station or by phone in advance during peak season. If you travelling during peak season, mostly buses are fully reserved a couple of weeks in advance.
We took the Nohi bus from Kanazawa station bus at loading bay 2. Our bus departure is at 9.10am and arrived at Shirakawa-go at 10.20am, and this gave us plenty of time to explore the Gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
It was end Jan 2019, heavy snow fall covered the whole village, a winter fairy land when we were arrived at Tourist Information Center. It makes us feel that we are inside a fairy tale story. Covered with fresh white powder, the village is surreal, like something right out of a fairy tale.
The observatory viewpoint is not to be missed!
The views from up top are breathtaking as the village is nestled between the mountain. You may take 20 minutes easy but steep walk up to the observatory overlooking the village (note that sometimes the trail is closed due to weather conditions, so it’s best to check at the tourist center first) or alternatively the 200 yen, 10 minutes shuttle bus if you don’t care to walk.
The snow was really heavy that day and it was amazing seeing the traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses with snow on their roofs.
It is amazing that these roofs are made without nails and designed to withstand heavy snow that fall in the region during winter.
We walked along the main street , found a nice restaurant, took our lunch and proceeded to look for the picturesque end of the village. It was not a very long walk with our winter clothing, kept us warm, bracing for strong wind, although was quite tough, quite a rare experience for us.
We crossed the river via a suspension bridge and reached the main area with the Gassho-zukuri farmhouses and shops. Everything was very unique and the snow just made it feel like we were in a fairy tale story. It was a beautiful sea of white.
Leisurely walking through Gassho-zukuri farmhouses was a step back in time, there are still people living in the grass huts and farmhouses.
We definitely recommend a visit to The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and you won’t be disappointed.
Ogi-machi Gassho Style Village Map
|Bus company||Nohi Bus／Hokuriku Rail Road|
|Boarding section||From Kanazawa Sta to Shirakawa-go|
|Required time||Approx. 1 hrs 15 min|
Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Area Pass
Website link :- http://touristpass.jp/en/takayama_hokuriku/