“Shirakawa-Go” and “Gokayama”
This promotional video, produced by “Discover Nippon,” shows the snowy landscapes of Shirakawa-go (Gifu Prefecture) and Gokayama (Toyama Prefecture).
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are two popular tourist destinations in Japan known for their Gassho-zukuri farmhouses with a unique sloped roof supported by A-frame crossbeams and thatched with the straw of crops.
The beauty of these farmhouses, with snow capped, thatched roofs, can be seen in the video.
This article will supplement the video by giving information about must-visit places in Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, where you can enjoy ancient Japanese landscapes.
Sightseeing Locations at Shirakawa-go During the Winter
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, Shirakawa-go is a famous place in northern Gifu Prefecture (known as the Hida Region), home to the thatched-roof Gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
The structure of the steeply sloped roofs can withstand the heavy winter snowfall.
Wada-ke house, a well preserved house located in Ogimachi (the largest village in Shirakawa-go), is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan and is now open to the public as a museum.
There are many other recommended locations, hidden gems, and “instagrammable” places, such as Shiroyama Viewpoint, Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck, Tohyama-ke House Museum and Myo-zenji Temple and House.
Although Shirakawa-go has charms in every season, it's best seen covered in snow.
The illumination during winter makes the village snowscape even more amazing. This can be seen at 3:33 in the video.
The pure white landscape, lit up beautifully, is a sight to behold even on video.
Recommended Tourist Locations in Gokayama
Photo：World Heritage Site Gokayama Ainokura Village
Gokayama is a part of Nanto City in Toyama, an area consisting of nostalgic villages featuring Gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
Ainokura village and Suganuma village are the main attractions of Gokayama, and are both registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites together with Shirakawa-go.
The Iwase-ke House and Murakami-ke House are two buildings of high cultural value, with both being designated Important Cultural Properties of Japan.
The best time to visit Gokayama is either in winter, when the village is covered in snow, or during the Ainokura Gokayama Music Festival in June.
If you like Tofu, be sure to try the Gokayama Tofu. It's a local specialty made using pure mountain water and locally grown soybeans.
Access to Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama
Many people visit Shirakawa-go and Gokayama by bus tour or car, as there are no railway lines running through the area.
If you're planning on staying overnight, the hotels around Hirase Onsen in Shirakawa-go or Gokasansou in Gokayama are the best options.
Some of the Gassho-zukuri farmhouses now function as an inn.
It's a great way to experience a traditional Japanese home that has tatami mat floors and an “Irori” (Sunken Hearth), used for both cooking and heating.
The video shows the inside of a Gassho-zukuri farmhouse from 6:53. Staying in a traditional Japanese home guarantees a unique experience.
Summary of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
Shirakawa Village in Gifu Prefecture and Nanto City in Toyama Prefecture have released live informational cameras that allow you to check out Shirakawa-go and Gokayama at all times. Consider checking them out before you head out for sightseeing.
Enjoy seeing the nostalgic Japanese villages snow capped by snow. It's a scene you won't come across often.
Shirakawa-go Tourist Office