Shirakawago : We Visited the World Cultural Heritage Site in Gifu
Yesterday, with my friends I went on a sightseeing trip to “Shirakawa-go (白川郷)”, a remote village famous for its Gassho style houses.
Specifically, Shirakawago is an area centering around the Ogimachi district in Shirakawa village, Gifu Prefecture, which is in the basin of Sho river.
Shirakawa-Go in the Unesco World Heritage List
In addition to the architectural value of its Gassho style houses, its village landscape resulted in Shirakawago’s inclusion in the Unesco’s World Heritage List.
The Shirakawago village, including Ogimachi and Gokayama, was added to the World Heritage list in 1995.
The Gassho-Style House
Gassho-style Houses in Shirakawago
The Gassho style house in Shirakawago features having a steep thatched roof. This is because Shirakawago is a snowy mountain village. Thanks to its steep roof, the Gassho style building can easily shed snow on the top.
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.
Shirakawago Village Walking Guide with Map and Photos
- Seseragi Park Parking Lot
- Deai Bridge
- Akiba Shrine
- Myozenji Temple
- Myozenji Folk Culture Museum
- My Recommended Photo Spot
- The View of Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout Point
- Shirakawa Kaido Street
- The Local Area around 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, there were a lot of tour buses parked in the lot.
Looking back at the opposite side from there, there was a wonderful view of 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 Deai Bashi. The Deai bridge was full of tourists, some of whom were taking photos on the middle of the bridge, overlooking a beautiful sight. (Back)
➂ Akiba Shrine
A short while after we crossed the bridge, the stone gate of Akiba Shrine welcomed us.
Passing through the sacred gate of the Japanese Shinto religion, we entered the main area of the Ogimachi Shirakawago village.
On the way to Myozenji temple, I found a re-roofed Gassho style house and took a photo. (Back)
➃ Myozenji Temple
Several minutes walk from the Shinto shrine‘s gate brought us to the Myozenji temple with an impressive belfry gate.
The “Myozenji (明善寺)” is a thatched roofed temple belonging to “Jodo Shinshu (浄土真宗)”, a sect of Japanese Buddhism. It is an old temple constructed in 1748. (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 old articles of farming equipment, folk-craft and so on. The Myozenji Folk Culture Museum is open to the public for 300 yen (about 3 USD) per adult and for 100 yen (about 1 USD) per child. (Back)
➅ My Recommended Photo Spot
Walking along a small path through a paddy field, we got a picturesque view of the 3 Gassho style houses surrounded by nature.
In addition to the gathering, there was a nice photo spot there displaying “Kakashi (案山子)” on the outer wooden wall of a house. By the way, Kakashi is the Japanese scarecrow with only one leg, which is usually installed in the rice field. (Back)
➆ The View of Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout Point
At this point, the Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout Point set on a hill came into sight. (Back)
➇ Shirakawa Kaido Street
After the long walk from Seseragi Park Parking Lot to the place where I could see the Ogimachi Castle Ruin Lookout Point, we finally went into the main street of the Ogimachi Shirakawago village, “Shirakawa Kaido (白川街道)”. (Back)
➈ The Local Area around Honkakuji Temple
We got to the Seseragi Park Parking Lot with our car by an uncrowded side road running through the local area around Honkakuji Temple! (Back)
During the stroll in the Ogimachi Shirakawago village, I saw several souvenir shops that stocked various types of products unique to Japan, so you will be able to enjoy shopping in those shops when you visit the village.