Shirakawago: We Visited the World Heritage Site in Gifu
Yesterday, with my friends I went on a sightseeing day trip to “Shirakawa-Go (白川郷)”, a remote mountainous village in Gifu Prefecture famous for its Gassho-style houses.
More precisely, Shirakawago is an area centering around the Ogimachi district in Shirakawa village, Gifu, which is in the basin of the Sho River.
In addition to the architectural value of its Gassho-style houses, its village landscape resulted in Shirakawago’s inclusion in Unesco’s World Heritage List.
The Shirakawago village, including Ogimachi and Gokayama, was added to the World Heritage list in 1995.
Gassho-style Houses in Shirakawago
Shirakawago is a snowy mountain village and its Gassho-style houses are especially characterized by their steep thatched roofs. Thanks to its steep roof, the old-fashioned Gassho-style building can easily shed snow.
The Meaning of Gassho (合掌)
By the way, the literal meaning of the Japanese word “Gassho (合掌)” is holding one’s hands together in prayer.
Walking Map with Photos
- Seseragi Park Parking Lot
- Deai Bridge
- Akiba Shrine
- Myozenji Temple
- Myozenji Folk Culture Museum
- My Recommended Photography Spot
- The View of Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout
- Shirakawa Kaido Street
- The Vicinity of Honkakuji Temple
Based on this Shirakawago tourist guide map with the red numbers from one to nine written by me, today I will share the stroll I actually had around the Shirakawago village in Ogimachi, with the photos I took for this blog article.
➀ Seseragi Park Parking Lot
We parked our car in the Seseragi Park parking lot in the village. As you can see in the photo, when we arrived, a lot of tour buses were already parked in the lot.
When looking back at the opposite side from there, there was a wonderful view of the Sho River, a suspension bridge called “Deai Bashi (であい橋)”, and forested mountains. (Back)
➁ Deai Bridge
By a few minutes’ walk from the parking lot, we arrived at the bridge Deai Bashi. The Deai bridge was full of tourists, some of whom were taking photos in the middle, overlooking a beautiful sight. (Back)
➂ Akiba Shrine
A short while after we crossed the bridge, the stone gate of the Shinto shrine Akiba Jinja welcomed us.
Passing through the sacred gate, we entered the main area of the Ogimachi Shirakawago village.
On the way to Myozenji, I found a re-roofed Gassho-style house and consequently took a photo. (Back)
➃ Myozenji Temple
Several minutes’ walk from the Shinto shrine’s gate brought us to the Buddhist temple Myozenji with an impressive belfry gate.
Constructed in 1748, “Myozenji (明善寺)” is a thatched-roofed, old temple belonging to a sect of Japanese Buddhism “Jodo Shinshu (浄土真宗)”. (Back)
➄ Myozenji Folk Culture Museum
Myozenji Folk Culture Museum lies next to the Myozenji temple. The five-storied building used as a museum is the largest Gassho-style house in the Ogimachi Shirakawago village.
It was built in the late Edo period, around 1817, and now houses articles of farming equipment, folk-crafts, and the like.
For 300 yen (about 3 USD) per adult and for 100 yen (about 1 USD) per child, the Myozenji Folk Culture Museum is open to the public. (Back)
➅ My Recommended Photography Spot
Walking along a small path, through the paddy field, we got a picturesque view of these 3 Gassho-style houses surrounded by nature.
Near the gathering, there was another nice photography spot displaying “Kakashi (案山子: Japanese scarecrow with only one leg)” on the outer wooden wall of a house.
➆ The View of Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout
At this place, the Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout on a hill came into sight. (Back)
➇ Shirakawa Kaido Street
After the long walk from the Seseragi Park Parking Lot to the location where I could see the Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout, we finally went into the main street of the Ogimachi Shirakawago village, “Shirakawa Kaido (白川街道)”. (Back)
➈ The Vicinity of Honkakuji Temple
Along an uncrowded side road running through the vicinity of the Buddhist temple Honkakuji, we returned to the Seseragi Park Parking Lot with our car. (Back)
During the walking in the Ogimachi Shirakawago village, I saw a number of souvenir shops carrying various types of unique Japanese products, so when you visit the village, you can enjoy shopping in those shops.