The scenery of Shirakawa-go is lined with unique straw-roofed houses.
It is something you should see at least once, isn’t it?
Now that the town has been registered as a world cultural heritage site, many tourist buses carrying people from overseas come to visit.
What I would like to recommend to you is “Gassho-zukuri Minkaen,” an outdoor museum where you can stroll around while taking a leisurely tour.
On the site where you can see the seasonal wildflowers, there are 9 buildings of important cultural assets of the prefecture alone, not to mention houses, stables and warehouses.
Getting Popular Among Foreigners
Shirakawa-go is located in the northwestern part of Gifu Prefecture, in a region with heavy snowfall.
Shirakawa-go has a unique gassho-zukuri (palm-shaped) house with a unique roof built to prevent snow from accumulating in this heavily snow-covered area.
Its nostalgic scenery has long been popular, but since it became a World Cultural Heritage Site, more and more people are visiting the village.
It’s not limited to this area, but the roads are narrow in places where the traditional rows of houses remain.
In Shirakawa-go, private cars are not allowed to enter the area for environmental reasons.
But don’t worry.
In Ogimachi, the center of tourism in Shirakawa-go, there is a large parking lot at Seseragi Park near the Shokawa River.
If you park here, it’s just a short walk to the “Deai Bridge” that leads to the Ogimachi community across the Shokawa River.
Nostalgic thatched houses gathered near the parking lot
If you have plenty of time, you can enjoy walking around Ogimachi from the Ogimachi Castle Ruins observation deck on the north side to the south side.
However, there may be some people who want to immerse themselves in the old-fashioned atmosphere in a quieter place.
For those people, I recommend the Open Air Museum Gassho-zukuri Minkaen.
This museum preserves about 25 Gassho-zukuri houses, and shows them to the public.
Among the houses on display are nine important cultural properties from Gifu Prefecture.
And you don’t just have to see them from the outside.
You can also go inside to see some of the Gassho-zukuri houses.
Internal Exhibits That Convey the Atmosphere of the Past
This is the interior of the Nakano family home located near the entrance of the park.
The hearth(fireplace) was used not only for cooking, but also as a light collector and heater.
The place to sit on the hearth was also strictly regulated.
In order not to spoil the atmosphere of those days, the lighting is weakened so that we can see how people lived in those days.
Moreover, this museum is not only open to the public on the first floor.
In this house, you can go up to the top floor where the silkworm was kept.
On the way to the top floor, you can see pictures of the old days and tools used for raising silkworms, so you can feel how they lived.
Scenery of the Satoyama with Huts Dotted Around
This is not only a collection of houses, but also a temple, as well as huts, mills, and fire lookouts that used to be used to hang rice.
Temples, huts for rice planting, water mill huts, and fire lookout towers are also scattered around the site, and a stream flows between them, creating a tranquil satoyama landscape.
In addition to the silkworm breeding exhibit, there are other exhibits that show the life of the people in this area, such as tools to show how they worked in the fields and tools to show how they worked in the woods.
Some of the houses allow visitors to see how they make daily necessities with straw.
If you look around the houses with an elderly Japanese person, they may bring back some of your distant memories.
Specially Designed with Love for Cat
Some houses also have two hearths in a row, so you can enjoy the differences in each house.
And this one… the hole in the wall is a doorway for a cat!
Warmth from the hearth is important in this cold climate, and this is just the tip of the iceberg for a cat.
You can also eat zenzai with rice cakes and handmade soba noodles in the park.
And the special ice cream comes in three flavors: vanilla, millet and buckwheat.
The people of Shirakawa-go have lived in harmony with nature in the mountains.
Please visit the outdoor museum “Gassho-zukuri Minkaen” and feel the culture handed down from the past.
Address: 2499 Ogi-cho, Shirakawa Village, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
Phone number: 05769-6-1231