Japan has always been synonymous with Tokyo, Osaka, or Sapporo. But did you know that Japan also has a very beautiful tourist village outside of these three popular places? Introducing, Shirakawa-go!
If you intend to travel to Japan and want to have a different travel experience than usual, Shirakawa-go must be your choice. This tourist village of Shirakawa-go is located in Gifu prefecture, still within Japan’s main island, Honshu Island. Let’s get acquainted with this Shirakawa-go tourist village first!
- A Japanese tourist village that has become a UNESCO cultural heritage
Shirakawa-go was declared a UNESCO cultural heritage in 1995. This tourist village is located at the foot of Mount Haku and in the Shokawa river valley so almost 96% of the area of Shirakawa is forest and has amazing natural scenery.
Geographically, the village of Shirakawa-go was an isolated and unexplored area. Not only because the place is at the bottom of the mountain and surrounded by forests and mountains, but some areas of Shirakawa Village are often covered by heavy snow during the winter season.
- Unique and rare traditional house architecture
The most unique and iconic of Shirakawa-go is the architectural form of the traditional houses. When you come here, you will be amazed by the shape of the local people’s traditional houses that look like village scenes in ancient Japan.
The traditional houses in Shirakawa-go are all in the Gassho-zukuri style. This gassho-zukuri house model is also referred to as a “praying house construction” because it has a sloping roof and looks like two hands praying. The roof of the house is made of thatched piles but is very sturdy considering that Shirakawa-go is always covered in thick snow in the winter.
Ogimachi Village is the largest village in Sirakawa-go and has the most traditional houses. The average traditional houses in Shirakawa are around 250 years old. The number of traditional gassho-zukuri houses is what finally UNESCO designated Shirakawa-go as a world cultural heritage site.
- What can you see in Shirakawa-go?
You will be presented with the natural beauty of the surrounding which is amazingly beautiful and feel what it is like to live in the countryside with unique traditional houses. In addition, you can also enjoy living in traditional Japanese houses in the gassho-zukuri style and will be treated to a variety of delicious traditional Japanese foods.
There are several things that you must do, some of which are: Gasshozukuri Minkaen Outdoor Museum, Tajima House Museum of Silk Culture, Myozenji Temple Museum, Tenshukaku (castle keep) Observatory, Doburoku Matsuri Festival Hall, and Jin Homura Art Museum.
However, there is one more thing that you must not miss in Shirakawa-go, which is night gazing! Yup, you should enjoy the view of the tourist village of Shirakawa-go at night, because you can see the beautiful traditional settlement at night, as well as star, gazing. Shirakawa-go has an incredibly beautiful view of the star-studded sky at night.
- When is the best time to visit Shirakawa-go?
Japan has 4 seasons, namely spring, summer, autumn, and snow. While Shirakawa-go is at a fairly high altitude, this makes the four seasons even more pronounced.
In spring, Shirakawa-go will be filled with pink cherry blossoms blooming all over the village. In summer, you will be treated to warmer weather and lush natural scenery. In autumn, Shirakawa-go will look a little red because the leaves on the trees will turn yellow, brown, and red and a lot of leaves are falling. Meanwhile, when winter arrives, Shirakawa-go will be covered in thick white snow.
Then, when is the best time to visit Shirakawa-go? The answer is, that whenever you want, you will still get an amazing travel experience. Depends on what season you want to see Shirakawa’s face.
- Access and transport to Shirakawa
Shirakawa-go has now become one of the most visited tourist spots by tourists, so access to it is very easy. Shirakawa-go is located northwest of Gifu Prefecture. You can rent a private vehicle or you can also use public transportation. If you use a car, you can follow directions via maps by searching for “Shirakawa-go”. If you choose to take the train, you can go via Tokyo train station to Toyama train station, then head to Shirakawa-go by bus. You can make a bus reservation in advance to make sure when the departure time is so you don’t miss the bus departure schedule.
Apart from Tokyo, you can depart from Osaka/Kyoto, Nagoya, and Takayama. For more details, see the official Shirakawa-go website here: ml.shirakawa-go.org/en/access/
How? Isn’t it fun to take a vacation to enjoy the scenery and traditional life in the historical village of Shirakawa-go? If you intend to come here, make sure to prepare everything well, okay? Happy holidays!