【Gifu】”Shirakawa go,” The Village of Praying Hands2016.01.18

160118 白川郷

Shirakawa go” is a secluded, remote, mountain village that is located in the foothills of “Haku-san” in Northwestern Gifu prefecture. “Shirakawa go” was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. You step back in time when you witness this scene of the traditional houses framed by green leaves in spring, tinted leaves in autumn, and snow in winter. The remote mountain village of houses dates back to the Edo period.

Some of these houses are over 250 years old and some are still used as private residences. The houses unique architectural style is called “Gassho Zukuri.” “Gassho” means praying hands for the roof resemblance to the Buddhist hands folded in prayer. The roof, built with no nails, has a slope of 60° to allow the heavy snow to slide off more easily. A triangular roof defines houses built in this style. The multilayer (3, 4, 5 floors), farmhouse structures, are unique and enabled farmers to raise silkworms in the harshest of winters. The silkworms were placed in the large attic space where the heat from the first floor, filled with, fire, people and activity, would rise and concentrate.

If you visit “Shirakawa go,” you can stay over at one of the “Gassho zukuri” farmhouses. Many of its farmhouses are open to the public as “Minshuku,” the private accommodation. Also you can visit “Gassho zukuri Minka,” an outdoor museum. The museum has 27 thatched roof houses that were relocated from various areas in “Shirakawa go.” There is a temple, a coal house and a horse stable.

From Tokyo to reach “Shirakawa go,” take the Tokaido Bullet Train to Nagoya and then take Takayama line to Takayama station. Transfer to a local bus to Takayama Nohi, the Bus Center. Total trip time takes approximately 5 hours.

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