Shirakawa City 白 川村
Shirakawa (Shirakawa village -白 川村) is a Japanese village located on the border of the Japan Alps in the Gifu region. Shirakawa is famous for its traditional houses called Gasshoku, entirely built in wood and with a roof covered with rice plants, declared a World Heritage Site in December 1995, with a population of 1.575 inhabitants, including about 100 foreign nationals.
Shirakawa-mura was founded in 1919, the oldest houses are approximately 350 years old.
After it was registered as a World Heritage Site, the number of tourists increased rapidly, tourists from Japan and abroad come to visit the village every year.
Shirakawa is a small village with 112 Gassho-Zukuri style houses, tall and narrow, with thatched roofs sloping steeply to the ground is a must during winter blizzards. The name gassho-zukuri literally means “like praying hands”.
Each of the houses is a work of carpentry art. They are built without nails, each beam fits perfectly into the next. The structure is very solid. Proof of this is that these houses have been standing since the 1800s, even in a country so prone to earthquakes.
Many of the buildings have been turned into museums that explain the history of the region and several of these houses are inns offering accommodation, shops and restaurants. Some houses still serve as residences and are therefore closed to the public. Others, however, are open and are certainly worth a visit. Many foreigners residing in Japan are already visiting this charming village of Gifu.
Every year from January to February on weekends, there is a special event where the Gassho-Zukuri houses are lit up. This event celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016. This lighting event in recent years has become more popular attracting huge numbers of visitors. The main objective of this event is to give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic scenery with the Gassho-Zukuri houses lit up and covered in snow.
Shirakawa is a rural village surrounded by mountains, and its history delights visitors who have the feeling that they are strolling through rural Japan centuries ago.
Although it is cool and comfortable in the summer, it is covered with snow in the winter and in February the snow reaches 170 cm or more. You can visit the village all year round as the season changes reveal different aspects of the village. Spectacular season with cherry blossoms, flaming leaves from autumn to silent white winter, meaning Shirakawa-go is always splendid.