Hidden away deep in the mountains of Gifu and neighbouring Toyama prefectures are a set of villages collectively known as Shirakawa-gō. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list these villages are famous for their gasshō-zukuri houses, whose steep-sided thatched roofs resemble hands clasped in prayer. Far from museum pieces, these unique pieces of vernacular architecture are still inhabited, and together with their adjacent rice paddies, they present an incredibly picturesque landscape that is a joy to behold and to take a stroll through.
The largest collection of gasshō-zukuri houses are in Ogimachi in Gifu. Head to the Shiroyama viewpoint for a superb panorama of the settlement. The Wada-ke is the oldest and largest gasshō-zukuri house in the village. It continues to be a private residence, but you can access part of it that is open to the public as a museum of village life. Here you will see many household items used by the Wada family who have lived in the thatched house for over 200 years.
During the day Ogimachi can be very busy with tourist groups. The best way to appreciate the village is to stay overnight in one of the gasshō-zukuri houses. Be sure to book in advance if considering this unique experience.
Ogimachi is 50 minutes by bus from the Nohi Bus Center in Takayama.
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