Driving from Kanazawa to Takayama we stopped by the lovely village of Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is a designated UNESCO World Heritage and a must see if you are in the Takayama area.
Before arriving at the village, we stopped at the top at the observation point where we were thrilled to see the lovely view of the village layout and the surrounding mountains. We went in autumn so the leaves had well and truly started to turn, making the whole scene very picturesque.
Upon arrival we crossed over the suspension bridge from the parking lot (outside the village), across a beautiful river to the torii gate which marks the village’s entrance.
The initial streets are filled with souvenir shops as well as full of tourist. We wandered down this street before taking a turn at the end and walked towards the less crowded areas of the village to experience calm.
The village is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. 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 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. Some of the villagers make silk, so they grow the silkworms and then spin the cocoons into silk thread and make fabric.
We entered some of the houses to see what life is like here. Generally, the living area is on the ground floor and the upper floors are devoted to work.
The village is pretty much closed off over the winter when the snow comes so we were delighted to see it before winter hit. I would imagine it will be very beautiful in December when the houses are all covered by snow
A stunning location surrounded by views within a beautiful landscape. The houses and gardens are lovely. The main street running through this small town has all the facilities, toilets, shops and places to eat.
Leisurely walking through Shirakawa-go Village was a step back in time; there are still people living in the gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
I definitely recommend a visit to The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.