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The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go Traditional Houses in the Gassho Style
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Private Custom Full-Day Tour of Shirakawa-go from Takayama
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Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
88 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“A must-see world heritage site”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 28, 2012

We spent a little under 40 minutes here during a brief bus stop on our way from Takayama to Kanazawa. In hindsight, this place would've been worth a visit of at least a whole morning, or even perhaps overnight in the farmhouses.

Around a 50 minute bus ride from Takayama, the area is a world heritage site with surviving farm houses located among rice paddies and canals (where carp swim through), and constructed in a similar manner to English medieval thatched houses. Once the bus turns off the main highway, meanders down a valley into the ravine, and you walk across the rope bridge into the village, it feels like you've stepped back in time (albeit traces of modern civilisation such as Japanese vending machines and satellite dishes attached to some of the farmhouses!)

It was a really beautiful place and truly remarkable. If you are in the area, then this has to be a must-see. Take the Nohi bus from the bus station next to Takayama JR station. There are several which go back and forth from this site every day. Don't make the mistake of doing a rush trip here - take the time to enjoy this area!

Visited September 2012
3 Thank Jeff F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
71 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“A must see.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 7, 2012

We went to see this housing community in April. It was so amazing to see this kind of things in real life. I belive many of you have already seen many pictures of this Gassho community, but believe me, it's nothing comparing to the real stuffs.
We stayed at Kanazawa and rode a bus there. It took us around 2 hours to go there on beautiful highway of Japan. There were still some snow left on the mountain along the way and we found if very enjoyable. Once we got there, the tourist information center staffs were very helpful and provided us with maps in many languages. They even had map in Thai language. So, don't worry if you can't read japanese, there is very high chance that you might end up having map in your hand in your own language.

The whole housing community was not too big. So everyone can enjoy walking along the path and enjoy the view. To go to the picture spot on the mountain, you can choose to walk or take a short bus trip. We took the bus to the top and walked down, which was extremely enjoyable.

If you like what you see in the pictures, go and see for yourself. You wouldn't regret it.

Visited April 2012
2 Thank CBangkok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Level Contributor
91 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 250 helpful votes
“Amazing collection of living gassho-zukuri in Ogimachi”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 4, 2012

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Takayama was to see the preserved thatched-roof farmhouses of Shirakawago. I'd already visited the Hida Folk Museum in Takayama, which features several relocated gassho-zukuri farmhouses, but the vast majority of surviving farmhouses are found in Ogimachi.

The bus ride from Takayama takes about an hour, and I was surprised to see that there was still a fair amount of snow on the mountains in early May. We arrived at Shirakawago, a very touristy area with an open-air museum featuring 25 gassho-zukuri farmhouses that are open to the public. I was even brave / crazy enough to climb up to the third floor and shuffle (shoeless, naturally!) along a thin wooden plank about 12" wide from one side of the roof to the other. Did I mention that there are no handrails? And the floor is open to the three stories below? Hint: don't look down.

The evolution of these farmhouses is ingenious. The top level of the farmhouses had slats so that the woodsmoke from the indoor fireplaces (cough, cough!) could drift upwards. Various wooden platforms held meats for smoking, and at the top level were the silkworm cocoons. The smoke also served to keep insects out of the thatched roof. Also, no nails were used in the construction; the grass roof is held in place by ropes. When a new roof is put on (they're made from local susuki grass and can last 30 to 40 years), it costs 200,000 dollars to reroof and requires a lot of manpower. The grass is sewn into place using huge wooden needles!

I then headed across the (heavily swaying) footbridge that connects to Ogimachi, a town where people actually still LIVE in many of the gassho-zukuri houses. Still touristy, but there are laundry lines and proof that people live there. I visited the damp Myozen-ji Temple Museum (and climbed up to the third floor and walked the plank...again!) and wandered around for a bit before heading back for the bus stop. Admission to the "museum buildings" is pretty cheap (around 300-500 yen admission per house in Ogimachi, and 500 yen for the Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Folklore Park). Several of the gassho-zukuri have been converted into inns if you're interested in spending the night in one.

Shirakawago is an absolute must-visit on your trip to Takayama!

Visited May 2012
4 Thank Bundtlust
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, UK
Level Contributor
51 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“An amazing place”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 3, 2012

Loved every minute of our one night stay here. Highly recommended staying as part of a trip to Japan. We arrived late afternoon, wandered around town and then spent the evening at the ryokan having dinner.

After dinner we visited the local onsen for a truly Japanese onsen experience. It was incredibly relaxing, and we didn't miss TV one bit!

The town itself was incredibly beautiful with fresh snow having fallen overnight making for some of the most beautiful pictures!

Visited March 2012
1 Thank PV74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Shirakawagoh Gassho-zukuri Village newly designated as the World Heritage”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 28, 2012

Why not pay a visit to Shrakawago in Gifu Prefecture! Gassho-zukuri houses has a long tradition and unique aspect of architecture characteristic to severe winter of heavy snowfall. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery around the village through the year.

Visited July 2011
1 Thank Yoshio Miwa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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