Local residents, Japanese tourists, foreign travelers – Gifu’s Shirakawa-go is loved by all! The town’s homes, known for their unique triangular thatched roofs, are one of Japan’s most famous World Heritage Sites.

In this article, we’ll be looking at what surprised, moved, and shocked foreign travelers during their visits to Shirakawa-go. (Comments are the opinions of the respective respondent.)

“Shirakawa-go is Straight Out of a Fairytale!”

“To me, Shirakawa-go didn’t feel Japanese. It reminded me of the traditional buildings of Northern Italy or Germany. The shape of the roofs, the color patterns, even the sky and the surrounding nature was straight out of Europe. Crossing over the rope bridge and entering the town was like stepping into a fantasy kingdom. Like one of the fairytales I read when I was little. I was half expecting Snow White’s Seven Dwarves to pop out! Truly, the scope of Japanese culture is enormous. The word ‘Japanese’ covers a lot more ground than I thought!” (Italian female)

“I went during winter. As if the entire area being covered in snow wasn’t beautiful enough, at night the buildings were lit up, creating a deeply moving spectacle. This isn’t the kind of experience you’d get from just walking around the streets of Japan, so it’s definitely worth making the trip! You can see the perfectly woven thatched roofs up close, which are absolutely amazing!” (American male)

“I was deeply moved by the sight of this tiny village in the middle of the seemingly endless rice fields and mountains. It felt so authentically Japanese! I was able to actually enter the triangle houses and have a look inside. I was surprised at how wide the inside of the roof was!” (British male)

The breathtaking scenery of Shirakawa-go has also appeared in numerous anime! One of the most commonly used locations is the iconic Hachiman Shrine. According to local legends, the ancient shrine was said to have been established somewhere between 708-714 CE, before being rebuilt in 1636.

This beloved shrine has now become an essential pilgrimage for overseas anime fans. One anime-lover who visited said: “I’ve always wanted to go! It’s a dream come true!”

The annual illumination event is another highly anticipated facet of Shirakawa-go’s charm. Every single thatched-roof home is lit up to display a mystical scene. The best place to observe this marvel is from the Shiroyama Tenshukaku viewing platform. While winter’s harsh conditions make access to this platform quite difficult, with a bit of hard wor…

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