Shirakawa, a village of ten thousand people
The village of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture, 354 km from Tokyo capital. Shirakawa is located on a high mountain, 95.7% area is forest. According to archaeological documents, a group of migrants during the reclamation process found the Sho river and decided to establish a small village next to the river. Due to its rugged terrain, mountains and rivers, Shirakawa is believed to be the last to be found in Japan. The weather in Shirakawa has 4 seasons, winter is the most extreme in Japan. The average annual snowfall exceeds 10 m, the temperature frequently remains minus 1 to minus 5 degrees Celsius.
Houses avoiding the snow
To accommodate the heavy snowfall each year, the people of Shirakawa village have created gassho-zukuri-style houses. This type of house is made up of interlocking wooden beams, elongated pointed roof, covered with straw above and has a great slope. With this roof design, the snow will be evenly leveled and fall when it is too thick, helping people stay warm. Currently, some people in Shirakawa village still live in the reinforced and renovated gassho-zukuri house. One of the village’s highlights is the Wada family home, the largest gassho-style house in the village, built in 1800. The Wada family has lived there for two centuries. Through many blizzards, the house is preserved to this day for tourists to see the Japanese life of the Edo period.
What season should I go to Shirakawa?
Shirakawa is one of four villages in Japan recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. The road to Shirakawa was quite simple after the Japanese government opened the highway to the village. The Japanese created mountain tunnels leading to Shirakawa. The last tunnel is 11 km long, enough to see how big the mountain separates Shirakawa from the civilized world in the past. Shirakawa four seasons are beautiful. Spring has cherry blossoms, autumn leaves yellow, red leaves, summer rice fields are green, the climate is cool. In winter, it usually snows very heavily in Shirakawa from December to February, creating a fairytale scene. At night, when the houses in the village are lit up, Shirakawa is as beautiful as a dream scene, mesmerizing all visitors.