Shirakawago Travel Guide

Shirakawa-go is an area in Gifu Prefecture, notable for its village of Gassho-styled houses.

“Gassho-style” refers to a method used in the construction of traditional Japanese houses. The most striking feature of these houses are their thatched roofs, which look like an open book that has been laid facing down. This region receives heavy snowfall in winter, and as a result the Gassho-styled houses in Shirakawa-go have unique steeply-sloped roofs. 

Throughout the seasons, Shirakawa-go is host to many classic scenes of Japan: rice planting in spring, fresh foliage in summer, autumn leaves, and snowy scenery in winter. While you’re in the village the primary form of transport is walking. As you walk around the village you will find souvenir shops, lodging, drinking establishments, and also onsen facilities. Despite the fact that are numerous tourist facilities here, please be aware that many of the houses here are private houses that people live in, so you can’t just go inside without permission. That said, there are a few houses designated as important cultural properties that are open to the public, such as the Wada-ke House and the Kanda-ke House. For those with an interest in Gassho-style houses, we recommend the Shirakawago Open-air Museum of Gassho-styled Houses. This museum exhibits around 20 different Gassho-style houses, along with information about their construction style and the people who lived there.

If you’d like a scenic view of the village, Ogimachi-jo Castle Ruins Observatory is the place to go. Starting from the Wada-ke House it’s a 15 minute climb up a hill to get to the observatory. Note that every weekend from February to March the houses are lit up, creating a magical spectacle out of the snow-covered houses.

You can take a bus from Takayama, Kanazawa, or Nagoya to get to Shirakawa-go. You can also check the travel companies that perform tours from Tokyo and Osaka. In the event you aren’t going to use public transportation, you will need either a rent-a-car or your own personal car. Note that in winter the snow gets quite deep so you will want to attach chains to your tires.



Tourism information: Shirakawago


Map: Shirakawago