att.JAPAN Issue 61, Autumn/2012
Shirakawa-go is one of the areas with a harsh climate and the most snow in Japan. The famous thatched houses (gassho-zukuri) with steep raftered roofs that look like a pair of hands in prayer (gassho) stand in the idyllic landscape. People have been living in these thatched houses for many decades, even in the heavy snow that lasts for five months of the year. The houses all face the same direction to avoid the snow and wind. The snow-covered houses are lit up in winter, creating an enchanting atmosphere. The traditional rural culture is still very much alive in this area and it is a designated World Heritage Site.
Shiroyama viewpoint is the perfect place to see a panorama of Ogimachi Gassho Village. The Wada House is the biggest gassho-zukuri house in the Ogimachi village. Although the house is currently used as a residence, the first and second floors are open for tourists. The Kanda House, with a fire burning in the irori fireplace throughout the year, has all floors open for tourists. Doburoku Festival Museum on the premises of the Shirakawa Hachiman Shrine offers local unrefined sake (doburoku) tasting. Some gassho-zukuri houses offer accommodations. Enjoy dining on unpretentious dishes while sitting by the fireside.
*Most of the gassho-zukuri houses are still currently used as residences. Please maintain proper tourist manners when walking around in the area.
Inquiries: Shirakawa-go Tourist Information Center
From Takayama Nohi Bus Center (next to Takayama Station) : about 50 min by Nouhi bus on Shirakawa-go line