Shirakawago, the World Heritage Site: Let’s Visit Residences of Japan’s Historic Village!
Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the world famous Shirakawago in Gifu Prefecture. The sight of it brings a sense of calm over hearts of even Japanese like us. The fact that there are actually people living there to this day is very interesting. Even though Japan has huge cities like Tokyo, there is also a side of the Japanese heart that treasures history. We feel strongly about communicating such sentiments to others.
This shuraku gives off the impression as if it would appear in an RPG (game). In the world of a game, there are always friendly residents of the village who let you stay the night, aren’t there!? Of course here in this village, there resides a quaint group of people unique to the countryside. They are all very friendly and nice.
Kanmachi District, the Three Houses
The Gassho style that exists in Kanmachi district is unique for its structured build, all facing the same direction. It is also very expressive as a work of art. The scenic view of the reflection on the water is a must-see!
1. The Wada House
Even though 300 years have passed since it has been built, the Wada House is still being used as a place of daily activity. It is the largest scale house in the village. There have been records indicating that the ancestors of the Wada family have held official government positions. The Wada family allows artifacts that have been passed on through the generations as well as parts of the house such as the toilet and areas of the 1st and 2nd floors for public viewing. Definitely go inside and see it for your own eyes!
This is a Japanese style, one-story building that you will hardly encounter in urban Japan nowadays. There is a Japanese style veranda called engawa and sliding door called shoji. It is a very spacious and well ventilated build.
2. The Attic
The Kirizuma ceiling with the kayabuki (thatched) roof at a sharp angle is one distinctive feature of the Gassho style. The origin of the name is said to have come from the shape of the roof looking like the shape of the hands held in gassho which is both hands placed together with the palms facing each other in the form of prayer. There is also meaning behind the roof being steep. It helps to drain the rain water and to protect the house from the weight of the snow. As in the photo, the attic has a space that is large enough to use as a residential space. This was in order to use this well ventilated area for cultivating silk. In the past, sericulture was a large industry. It could be said that this kind of calculated design on the internal structure is a piece of ancient wisdom.
3. “Irori” (Hearth)
A traditional Japanese heating device is also called the irori. The floor is cut out in the shape of a square. It can also be used for cooking with the use of coal. There are sure to be some of you who recall the scene in Princess Mononoke when they hang a pot over the irori and eat the delicious looking porridge!
4. Dethatching of the Roof
1. Shiramizu no Yu
2. The Outdoor Bath
Click here for Dragon Route. ⇒ The Dragon Route is a new tourist route
*Shirakawago is a part of the Dragon Route!
Address: Ogimachi, Shirakawa-mura Ono-gun, Gifu
Phone: 05769-6-1311 (Shirakawa village office)
Nearest station: Go on the bus from Takayama or Kanazawa Station, Nohi Bus Official
Other Access: – From Tokyo – From Osaka, Kyoto – From Nagoya