Located in Gifu Prefecture's Ono District is Shirakawa-go, a beautiful traditional Japanese village and tourist attraction. Its historical value was recognized in 1976 when it was classified as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings in Japan.
This recognition reached a global scale in 1995 when it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the area of Gokayama. Collectively, they are known as the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.
It therefore comes as no surprise that visitors from all over Japan and around the world travel to Shirakawa-go to enjoy the pure and beautiful landscape of Japan in its primitive days. What are some must-visit places of interest in and around Shirakawa-go, and how easy is it to actually get there? Let's find out!

Gassho-Zukuri: Shirakawa-Go's Most Distinct Architectural Features

Now, we can't talk about Shirakawa-go without first mentioning its iconic gassho-zukuri houses.
Gassho-zukuri means "made like clasped hands," It was so coined because the wooden houses of Shirakawa have thatched roofs shaped like hands clasped as if in prayer. Since there is a lot of snowfall in Shirakawa-go during winter, this clever architectural style allows the roofs to maintain enough flexibility to withstand the snow's weight without using metallic materials like nails.
Although the village is located in a mountainous region that gets very cold overnight, the multiple layers of dried grass stacked on the roof are good at keeping heat in the house. The slanted walls also provide a windbreak effect, and the steep incline of the roof allows the home to shed snow easily. The ancients who lived in this area certainly demonstrated a deep understanding of how to coexist with a snowy hinterland deep in the mountains in relative comfort!
The villagers also work together to rethatch the roofs once every 30 years or so. The strength of their spirit of mutual assistance and bond of unity is what helps them to overcome the region's harsh winters year after year. You could even say that this strength that is passed down through the generations is also part of the heritage being preserved here at Shirakawa-go.
We briefly touched on what gassho-zukuri is, but there's so much more to this ancient architecture style that simply cannot be described by words alone. So, swing by the village to admire the skillful handiwork of the forerunners who built this place and carefully consider how the houses' intelligent …

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