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世界遺産白川郷合掌造り集落 World Heritage Shirakawago Gassho Frame Housing Community

  • World Heritages Walk around (Old cities)
  • Around Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
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Around Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
Ogimachi, Shirakawa-mura Ono-gun, Gifu, 501-5600, Japan
  • World Heritages
  • Walk around (Old cities)
Opening Hours
Depending on Facilities
Depending on Facilities
Date of post:2015/07/24

The unique gassho-zukuri ('prayer-hands structure') village

  • Historic / Cultural Experiences

Tourist Center Address:Hagi-machi 2495-3, Shirakawa-mura, Ono-gun, Gifu pref.
Japan Category:Japanese traditional houses
Opening Hours : 9:00-17:00
Website : http://shirakawa-go.gr.jp/
Tel. : +81-5769-6-1013

1. Outline
The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Shirakawa-go area, located along Sho-Gawa River valley in the Hida mountains, is best known for its folk houses with steeply slanted thatched roofs. This architecture style, Gassho-zukuri ('prayer-hands style'), is called so because the shape of the roofs looks like the hands of Buddhist monks praying for. There are 110 such houses standing in here, this region is the largest concentration of Gassho-zukuri in Japan.

This is a heavy snow area and Gassho-zukuri roofs avoid accumulation of snow. The Gassho-zukuri roofs, built without nails, provide a large attic space for silkworm cultivation. Some large houses have three or four stories and built in the 18th century. One of the largest is Wada-house, please see more detail in Wada-house article.

2. Entrance Fee
Enter the village : Free of charge
Enter individual houses : mostly 300 yen,

3. Access
If you want to go Shirakawa-go, I recommend you to take a bus from Takayama station, Nagoya station or Kanazawa station. You can reach these stations easily by JR trains. Or you can drive Tokai-hokuriku highway and get off at Shirakawa-go interchange.

4. My recommendations
Here is a very special place for me because I can find quite original Japanese style old hometown feeling, I cannot find this feeling in other places. I sincerely want to show you foreigners the real old traditional Japan. I also recommend to visiting Takayama at the same time, this city is often called Small Kyoto, because the streets are lined with neat rows of stores, shops and houses. I am happy if you are interested in such an old town.

5. Visit best season
Spring and autumn is especially beautiful with Sakura, cherry blossoms and colorful leaves.
Winter is also beautiful but just some difficulties because of heavy snow.

6. Others
I am very interested in the impression of German architect Bruno Taut (1880 – 1938), urban planner and author active during the Weimar period. He came to Japan in 1933 and he was the first to write extensively about the architectural features of Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, also he praised gassho-zukuri’s uniqueness of rational and logical structure. Many Japanese people found the value of this architectural style. Here is a rare place that we can find the real Japanese traditional architectures and life style.

Date of post:2015/07/23

A Memorable Sight with Full of Nature

  • Historic / Cultural Experiences

Every year, more than 1.4 million people visit this site especially since the village was designated World Heritage Site in 1995. Similar wooden houses can be found in other places, but the houses in this village are the best preserved and worth seeing. Its Gassho-zukuri houses are peculiar with the steep thatched roof that resembles two hands clasped in prayer. The roofs are steep in order to withstand the heavy snow. There are more than 100 houses built hundreds years ago in Shirakawa-go, and some people still live in more than half of those houses.

Surrounded by plentiful streams of fresh water, you can hear music of the brook, birds singing, and the sound of wind moving through the forest. Many people get struck by a sense of nostalgia. The colorful flowers, plants, autumn leaves and the crisp white snow will wake your inner photograph and make you snap beautiful photos. The impressive Gassho-zukuri houses, and the rich nature are an unforgettable sight.

Though the village is in a remote area deep in the mountains, many tourist buses stop by, and most visitors are from abroad. It’s recommended to visit on weekdays, since on weekends and during the light-up events in the snowy season, it will be very crowded.

Shirakawa-go is a small village, but in order to experience the full beauty of the village and enjoy a delicious lunch, be sure to stay at least 3 hours. Get in some hot springs in the village or Hirase Hot Spring (the neighbor village), and fully enjoy your stay.

*You can get map in English/Spanish/German/French/Chinese/Korean/Thai at the main information center soon from the bus stop. Many shops and restaurants are used to deal with foreign customers.

Date of post:2015/07/08

Nostalgic scenery and delightful sightseeing spot

  • Historic / Cultural Experiences

Gassho originally means joining hands in prayer in Japan. The roof of Gassho style house is very steep like joining hands in prayer. That’s why people call so. And, the big steep roofs were born to prevent piled up snow and make easier work of clearing snow from the roof.

The steep roof is a thatched roof with Japanese silver grass or cogon grass.
A thatched roof is thought to have been made in the Jomon period in Japan. The Jomon period started around 16000 ago, although it is not very sure when the first thatched roof is made. And, a thatched roof itself is not specific to Japan. In Europe, there used to be a lot of thatched roof houses. So, some foreign tourists might feel nostalgia when they visit Shirakawa-go.

Shirakawa-go is surrounded by high mountains in Chubu region of central Japan. And, it used to be an unexplored region for a long time period. So, many Gassho style houses remained. In 1976, Shirakawa-go was registered as an important preservation district of historic buildings in Japan. In 1995, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage.

After Shirakawa-go became a UNESCO World Heritage, it had some pleasant atmosphere like other sightseeing spots rather an unexplored place.
Although Gassho style houses and their specific landscape still remain, there are many souvenir shops, inns, restaurants and cafes now. And, there are an information center and coin lockers for tourists.
When I visited this time, many people were walking on the bridge called meeting bridge pleasantly over the Sho river. And, students on a school trip have lunch and some fun by the river.
Some Gassho style houses are used as museums. For example, there are Wadake, Nagaseke, Kandake and Myozenji museum. If we pay an admission fee, we can see the inside and some exhibitions.
And also, there is an open air museum, Gassho Zukuri Minkaen. If you want to know about Shirakawa-go more, please check it out.

  • * The information above is from the date of the review. Please be aware that some of the content may vary from the most recent information.
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