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Shirakawago: Exploring the Japanese Countryside

I've been to a few of the cities in Japan, but have yet to travel to its countryside. So when I returned, I decided I would go somewhere different. Atop of my list was Shirakawago in central Japan.

Village Walk

Shirakawago and Gokayama line the Shogawa River Valley in the mountainous region from Gifu to Toyoma prefectures. The area was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shirakawago is well-known for the gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than a century old.

The short drive from Takayama was worth it once I got to see the overlooking view of the houses. They were in a backdrop of verdant fields and rolling hills.

The houses were designed like hands in prayer to withstand the heavy snow that hits the village during winter. The large space in the attic of the houses was used to cultivate silkworms.

Some of the houses are open to the public and have maintained their traditional look and ambiance. Once you enter, you get to see how the village folk used to live. Some of their tools and other items are on display, I'm just not sure if they still use them.

It was low season so there weren't a lot of tourists, one of the best times to visit is during winter as the area lights up at night.

Once you move out of the large and main streets, fewer tourists are walking around and you get to experience the stillness of rural life even for a moment.

Walking around the small village of Shirakawago is like stepping back in time. Other than the souvenir shops, it seemed like very little has changed in this idyllic part of the Japanese highlands. Visitors have the option to stay in a farmhouse during their visit, which adds to the experience.

After exploring the village, there is one place where you can try white sake, if you pay the admission for visiting the museum.

The well-preserved village was a reminder of how Japan cherishes their cultural heritage. It is also a great way to see and learn about Japanese culture and how their country transformed over the centuries.

How to Get to Shirakawago

You can take the buses that go to the village from Takayama for Y2600. 

You might want to read more about my Central Japan trip:

Getting a Visa

Filipino readers need a visa to visit Japan. I wrote my guide about it here: Japan visa guide.

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