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.

Shirakawa-Go (白川郷)

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

Gassho-style Houses in ShirakawagoGassho-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)

The Meaning of the Japanese word Gassho

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 

Gifu Shirakawago Village Walking Map

  1. Seseragi Park Parking Lot
  2. Deai Bridge
  3. Akiba Shrine
  4. Myozenji Temple
  5. Myozenji Folk Culture Museum
  6. My Recommended Photography Spot
  7. The View of Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout
  8. Shirakawa Kaido Street
  9. 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.

Seseragi Park Parking Lot

Seseragi Park Parking Lot in Shirakawago

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.

Deai Bashi in Shirakawago

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)

Deai Bridge

Deai Bashi Bridge in Shirakawago

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)

Akiba Shrine

Akiba Jinja Shrine in Shirakawago

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 as a result took a photo. (Back)

Myozenji Temple

Myozenji in Shirakawago

Several minutes’ walk from the Shinto shrine’s gate brought us to the Buddhist temple Myozenji with an impressive belfry gate.

Myozenji Temple in Shirakawago

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)

Myozenji Folk Culture Museum

Myozenji Folk Culture Museum in Shirakawago

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)

My Recommended Photography Spot

My Recommended Photography Spot in Shirakawago

Walking along a small path, through the paddy field, we got a picturesque view of these 3 Gassho-style houses surrounded by nature.

My Recommended Photography Spot in Shirakawago 2

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.

The View of Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout

Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout in Shirakawago

At this place, the Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout on a hill came into sight. (Back)

Shirakawa Kaido Street

Shirakawa Kaido Street in Shirakawago

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)

The Vicinity of Honkakuji Temple

The Local Area around 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)

Souvenir Shops

Souvenir Shops in Shirakawago

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.

Tomo

Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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