Step into an idyllic thatched-roof village that time has forgotten, nestled deep within the mountains of Shogawa River Valley in Gifu Prefecture. Shirakawa-go is characterised by houses with steeply-pitched thatched roofs which are designed to help manage snow, which accumulates heavily in this part of Japan during winter. The steep design of the roof helps facilitate snow to slide off these farmhouses easily and they are referred to as gassho-zukuri, meaning “hands pressed together in prayer”.
Some of these farmhouses are more than 250 years old and the tall roofs, constructed without nails, provide a large attic space for cultivating silkworms which the village is also famous for. Many people visit Shirakawa-go as a day trip from nearby Takayama, but the best way to appreciate this village is to spend the night in one of these farmhouses, many of which are minshuku (homestay). Sleep in a cosy futon on the traditional tatami floor, and enjoy a homemade, local dinner around the irori, a Japanese-style open hearth.
Access: Shirakawa-go is accessible from Kanazawa/Takayama Station via the Nohi Bus on the Takayama-Shirakawa-go/Kanazawa Route.
Get off at the Shirakawa-go stop.
(from Kanazawa - about 80 mins; 2,000 yen/from Takayama - about 50mins; 2600yen)
Website: Official Website