Historic Village of Shirakawago
Are you already planning your 2017 winter escapade? Check this another world heritage spot in central Japan.
The historic villages of Shirakawago and neighboring Gokayama located in central Japan lining the outstretched River valley. Declared as UNESCO World Heritage site of Japan in 1995. These villages are famous for the traditional gassho-zukuri houses characterized by its architectural style “like praying hands”. The farm houses are built to withstand heavy snowfall and surprisingly the roofs were built without using nails and the attic space is also used as storage of their cultivated silkworm industrial product.
Some of the houses are said to be as old as 250 years and still being inhabited or used as hotels. The Wada house is considered as the biggest and oldest gassho house and still used as private residence whereas some part of it is open for public viewing.
The Shiroyama Viewpoint is the best place for a panoramic view of the entire village.
Summer / photo: jenkosjapan.blogspot.jp
Here are few considerations when visiting Shirakawago for the first-time:
(As specified at www.ml.shirakawa-go.org)
The four seasons at Shirakawa-go are; Spring (March – May) – cherry blossoms & rice paddies, Summer (June – August) – lush green trees, Fall sees festivals and vivid colors of the changing leaves, Winter features beautiful snowscapes.
For Those Visiting in Winter
The Shirakawa-go region sees a lot of snowfall from December through March. When visiting in winter, please dress warmly, waterproofed coats are recommended, as are long boots or warm shoes with grippy soles to avoid slipping on the snow. Temperatures can be low during the day, while at night there is a risk of slipping or falling on the frozen streets. Additionally there is a danger of fresh snow obscuring holes, ponds, or irrigation ditches. Please take care not to set foot on areas of freshly fallen snow that have not been subject to snow removal.
In Shirakawa-go there are over 40 inns and guesthouses built in the gassho style or with traditional Japanese architecture, including a number of hotels with easy access for anyone, all require reservations. Please understand that some accommodations may not be able to respond to reservation requests in languages other than Japanese.
After Arriving in Shirakawa-go
Many people live their daily lives within the world heritage village. Please consider the privacy of the residents and observe the following rules to protect the beauty of this world heritage site for future generations.
Trash cannot be thrown away! Do not bring it!
Trash cans are not provided within the village. Please take your trash home with you. Please return food containers to the shops from where the food was purchased. Please do not throw your trash away in public toilets, etc.
Fires are strictly prohibited!
Smoking is prohibited (with the exception of electronic cigarettes that do not use fire). The gassho style houses are extremely vulnerable to fire damage. Please refrain from smoking outside of pre-determined locations within the village. Please be absolutely certain that you don’t smoke or discard cigarette butts while walking.
Fireworks & bonfires are prohibited Fireworks and bonfires are a major cause of uncontrollable fires. In order to preserve this beautiful world heritage site, please be absolutely certain that you don’t use fireworks or start a bonfire.
Cherish the nature!
Please do not remove any of the native plants from the village. Let’s cherish the flora and fauna of Shirakawa-go.
Do not enter private property!
The world heritage site is also home to a number of residents. Please do not enter private premises or fields, open doors, or peek through windows without express permission. Additionally the flowers, vegetables, and crops growing around the village have been carefully nurtured by the residents, please do not pick them.
Only use designated toilets.
Please only use the designated public toilets. Do not relieve yourself at any other location. Please use the toilets cleanly.
Camping is strictly prohibited.
Camping is not allowed within the world heritage village. If you wish to camp in the area, please use the “Shirakawa-go Hirase Onsen Camp-site” or the “Hakusan Buna-no-mori Campground”
If you wish to fly a drone in Japan then you need to follow the rules established by Japanese aviation law. Please refer to the website of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for more information. Please consider the safety of residents and other tourists, and co-operate with nature conservation efforts.
We have established “SHIRAKAWA-Go Free Wi-Fi” at various locations throughout the village. Click to enlarge the image of the access point map below, or download the PDF file, to check the installation locations. In addition, some accommodation facilities may provide free Wi-Fi access that is not listed on the site below. Please check with your accommodation.
If visiting Shirakawago on road trip, here are some places you can visit as side trip:
Network of underground caves with a waterfall. Housing the tallest underground waterfall in Japan.
This old town has roots dating back to 300 B.C. and boasts a beautifully restored historical town centre.
Shoukawa (Soba no Sato)
View of Fuji San from the Expressway