From Takayama: Visit Shirakawa-go & Gokayama
Located approximately one hour from Takayama and accessible by public bus, Ogimachi is the largest of the three villages that make-up the World Heritage-listed Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. Afforded World Heritage status in 1995, Ogimachi is an extremely popular destination, visited by thousands of tourists a daily basis.
While the crowds can be off-putting at first, visitors who wander away from the most central locations, or take the time to get to the less accessible villages of Ainokura or Suganuma, will find themselves with plenty of space to enjoy these stunning villages without interruption. Indeed, those who venture to Ainokura and Suganuma will find the villages notably quiet, mostly visited by Japanese tourists and less blighted by the intrusion of large tour groups.
Nestled in the Shogawa River Valley in a remote area of the high mountains of Toyama and Gifu Prefectures, the villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama retain their historic character and many traditional ways of life, most pronounced in the ‘gassho-zukuri’ thatched-roofed farmhouses. Taking their name from the distinctive high-pitch of their roofs – reminiscent of hands held together in prayer or ‘gassho’ – many of the farmhouses date back over 250 years. Built to withstand the heavy snowfall experience each winter, the design demonstrates human ingenuity in adapting to the landscape – something that was essential for villages to survive the harsh winter conditions which historically would isolate them from the rest of the world.
Today, the farmhouses and the villages that they makeup have been afforded numerous protections and gained global fame. Many continue their function as family homes and places of local industry, while others have been converted to museum, restaurants and cafes, and guesthouses. Making the journey from Takayama to any of the villages is well-worth the effort, and should your itinerary afford enough time do so, it is equally worthwhile staying the night in one of the region’s traditional guesthouses.
For visitors in Takayama without the time to travel to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, the ‘Hida no Sato’ or Hida Folk Village is an open-air museum preserving more than thirty gassho-style farmhouses. Unique to the mountain villages of Toyama and Gifu Prefectures, the distinctive construction of these buildings has been widely recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage-listing of the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.
Relocated to Takayama in 1971, visitors can enjoy the beautiful and ingenious design of gassho-style architecture while in the city. Also home to the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center, which displays folk crafts and skills, the Hida Folk Village is worth exploring for a couple of hours.
Want to visit Takayama and Shirakawa-go on a private charter or tour? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get planning together!