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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Shirakawa-go Journey Information

Uncover the secrets and techniques behind the breathtaking thatched roofs of Shirakawa-go, a historic UNESCO World Heritage web site. Discover the picturesque village and the marvelous Gassho-Zukuri (prayer-hand building) homes.

Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go in front of rice fields

Have you ever seen images of Japanese villages coated in snow? This picturesque village appears to be like prefer it belongs in a Japanese folktale from way back! Fortunately, we had the prospect to go to this distinctive UNESCO World Heritage web site, Shirakawa-go (白川郷) as our day journey from Takayama. Nestled within the Japanese Alps, the farmhouses of Shirakawa-go are a well-liked vacation spot for guests throughout the globe and locals in Japan.

By Tsuda from Tsushima, Aichi, Japan (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Tsuda from Tsushima, Aichi, Japan (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], through Wikimedia Commons

That is a part of our Takayama journey information collection. Should you haven’t had an opportunity to learn them, please begin with half 1 to meet up with our adventures!

Entry to Shirakawa-go

The journey from Takayama to Shirakawa-go is only a quick 1-hour bus journey utilizing the Tokai Hokuriku Expressway. On the best way there from Takayama, we noticed views of the Japanese countryside and a Hida Beef farm and handed via many lengthy tunnels together with Japan’s second longest.

In case you are coming from Kanazawa, you may journey the Nohi Bus (2,600 yen one-way in 2023) from Kanazawa Station West Exit Platform 4, which takes round one hour and quarter-hour. From Toyama Station, you may journey the identical bus (2,400 yen one-way in 2023), which can take roughly one hour and 20 minutes.

In case you are coming from Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto, we advocate touring to one of many cities talked about above after which taking the suitable bus.

View over Shirakawa-go

When is the Greatest Time to Go to Shirakawa-go

We traveled on the finish of June so we may benefit from the summer season surroundings. Nevertheless, arguably one of the best time to go is through the winter season, from December to March, as you may benefit from the snowy surroundings. Moreover, in January and February, you can even get pleasure from light-up occasions and winter illuminations. Between September and November can also be one other nice time to go as you may benefit from the colourful autumn leaves.

In case you are seeking to see cherry blossoms, we might not advocate Shirakawa-go as there aren’t too many cherry blossom timber.

Exploring Shirakawa-go: Japan’s Folktale-like Village

After we arrived at Shirakawa-go, the bus took us to the commentary deck on the prime of the hill, welcoming us with a picturesque viewpoint over the village. After taking within the stunning view, the bus descended in direction of the village.

(see the map of the village)

View from observatory looking over Shirakawa-go

As soon as the bus arrived on the parking zone, we crossed the Shokawa River on a suspension bridge to step into the magical Shirakawa-go.

Nestled in a mountainous area surrounded by forests, the air round is so clear and the crystal-clear river beneath the bridge provides to the tranquil ambiance, a stark distinction to Tokyo and Yokohama.

Views leading to Shirakawa-go

Gassho-Zukuri Homes in Shirakawa-go

So, what makes Shirakwa-go distinctive and particular? It’s the gathering of gassho-zukuri (合掌造り) roofs on prime of the homes within the village! You’re in all probability questioning what’s the which means of gassho-zukuri.

Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

Gassho refers back to the form of the arms in a praying place with the palms dealing with one another (prayer-hands building).

This one-of-a-kind thatched roof design just isn’t solely stunning however can also be extremely useful, able to withstanding the load of heavy snowfall through the winter time. The steeply angled roofs shed the snow simply whereas making a spacious inside for numerous functions through the harsh winter months, comparable to the standard trade of silkworm farming.

Our information advised us that the roofs final about 20-30 years but it surely’s very costly and labor-intensive to exchange. All sides of the roof prices about USD 100k and it could price $200k to exchange either side. Moreover the price, it requires roughly 150 staff to make the roof as you’ll see in an image later.

Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go in front of rice fields

There are a complete of 114 thatched-roof buildings in Shirakawa-go. Amongst them, chances are you’ll discover that among the homes within the village have a contemporary roof. Why?

It’s as a result of among the roofs have been modified earlier than the UNESCO recognition in 1995. Now, the Japanese authorities prohibits house owners from altering their thatched roof to a contemporary roof.

Myozenji Temple Museum

As you stroll via the village, you’ll move by Myozenji Temple Museum (明善寺郷土館). The temple was constructed about 230 years in the past and in addition has the well-known thatched roof that we advocate testing.

Myozenji Temple Museum bell tower

Kanda Home Tour

One factor you’ll discover immediately is that these Gassho homes are surprisingly huge. Opposite to expectations, they’re fairly tall, with a number of ranges and an extremely spacious inside.

Among the many Gassho homes open for excursions, our information recommends the Kanda Home (神田家). Throughout our go to, the Kanda household nonetheless resided in the home however in a separate wing. Right here, they serve wild herb tea to their visitors through the go to, making for a pleasant pit spot alongside your Shirakawa-go travels. The doorway charge is 400 yen (as of 2023).

Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

The Kanda home was constructed by Wada Yaemon (2nd son of Wada Home), who later modified his identify to Kanda. The construction was constructed over 10 years round 1800 AD. Moreover elevating silkworms, the Kanda household enterprise additionally made gunpowder.

Upon getting into the home, we paid Mr. Kanda the doorway charge, permitting us entry to freely discover the constructing.

Family room with live gire and hearth in Gassho-Zukuri house

Kanda Home – First Ground

The primary flooring is a big open area (household room) with reside fireplace and fireplace in the midst of the room. Linked to the household room are visitor rooms, bedrooms, rooms for Buddhist monks, and an altar.

Right here is our son waving to us from the “fireplace watch” window beneath. As all the home is made out of wooden, this small window permits monitoring of the hearth from the second flooring. There are additionally fireplace hydrants everywhere in the city to ensure these nationwide treasures are safely shielded from fireplace.

Fire watch window in Kanda House, Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

Every room and nook of the Kanda home showcased quite a lot of artifacts, providing glimpses into each enterprise and residential life.

Kanda Home – Second Ground

Shifting to the second flooring, we discovered tools used for working within the snow in addition to for making sake.

Second floor Interior of Kanda House, Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

Right here is the part beneath the place they defined the key behind the energy of the gassho-style roof, which might stand up to sturdy wind and snow.

Roof Structure of Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

There was an image taken of the Kanda home when it was having its roof re-thatched. You possibly can see the big variety of individuals it requires to work collectively for the job. Are you able to guess what number of? It was 184 individuals!

Sign explaining the structure of Kanda House, Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

Kanda Home – Third Ground

Reaching the third flooring, the width of the room turns into considerably narrower, although nonetheless loads of area to stroll upright.

Interior of Kanda House, Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

Right here we noticed the tools for making silk, together with pans for elevating silkworms, a silk weaving machine, and a silk spinster.

Traditional silk making in a Gassho-Zukuri

Kanda Home – High Ground

Lastly, on the very prime flooring, you may see the underside of the roof. One fascinating word, as there’s a fireplace burning on the primary flooring, it will get very smoky as you go greater within the constructing. Your garments will doubtless scent of smoke after touring!

Top floor showing the Roof Structure of Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

Are you shocked by how giant the inside area was? The home has no columns taking on area in the midst of the construction.

Roof Structure of Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go

Moreover the Kanda Home, different well-known Gassho homes embody the Nagase Home and Wada Home. Wada home is the biggest Gassho-style home (image beneath).

Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go in front of rice fields

Shirakawa-go Village

As you stroll within the village, you’ll see numerous eating places, cafes, memento retailers, and craft shops. The shop sells sake, Hida Beef Korokke (croquette), and Kushiyaki (skewers).

Throughout our stroll on the primary highway (and it was sprinkling), there have been some trout within the river that’s raised by the native farmer, including to the village’s attraction.

So apart from admiring these conventional Gassho-style buildings, what else are you able to do in Shirakawa-go? You possibly can keep in a single day as a few of these homes have been transformed to Minshuku (Japanese Mattress & Breakfast 民宿).

Staying in Shirakawa-go

The Minshuku beneath is Koemon (幸ヱ門), which was constructed through the Edo Interval, providing a super-traditional Japanese expertise. Simply word that the visitor rooms do not need their non-public baths or bathrooms so you need to share with others. 😉

Gassho-Zukuri in Shirakawa-go in front of rice fields

We hope you loved visiting Takayama with us. We had an exquisite three days there and extremely advocate it if you wish to expertise a special facet of Japan from Tokyo and different giant cities.

Should you haven’t learn my journey posts about our one week in Hokuriku 北陸地方(the north-western a part of Japan) together with Kanazawa, Toyama, Kurobe Gorge, Tateyama Alpine Route, and Takayama, please begin studying from this publish.

101 Places to Visit in Tokyo ebook

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