Shirakawago & Gokayama

Shirakawago and the neighbouring Gokayama are small, traditional villages located in Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture, showcasing a building style known as gasshō-zukuri. These traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses first emerged during the Edo period for farmers, village headmen, merchants and low-level samurai. Gassho-zukuri means “hands pressed together in prayer”, as the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style developed over many generations and is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter. The roofs, made without nails, provided a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms. Many people visit Shirakawa-go as a day trip from nearby Takayama, but the best way to appreciate this village is to spend the night in one of these farmhouses, many of which are minshuku (homestay).

Group Attractions

  • Attractions
  • Dining
  • Experience
  • Omiyage


Ogimachi is the largest village and main attraction of Shirakawa-go. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, the village is home to several dozen well preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. The farmhouses are quite amazing structures, designed to withstand the harsh winters while providing a place to work and live, and are best seen either covered in snow or surrounded by green fields. Many of the farmhouses are now restaurants, museums or minshuku, where you can stay overnight.

Activities: Photo stop, Stroll around Fee: None Time required: 1 hour

Ainokura Village

Ainokura is the most remote village in the Gokayama region. It is also the largest of the villages with nearly 20 gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Many of them remain private residences, although a few have been converted into restaurants, museums, and minshuku. Being so remote, Ainokura, along with the rest of Gokayama, has been able to maintain a lot of its traditional culture. This can be seen in its folk dances and music, which use several traditional instruments unique to the area.

Activities: Photo stop, Stroll around Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour

Suganuma Village

Suganuma one of the main attractions of Gokayama is made up of two areas, Suganuma Village and the Gokayama Gassho no Sato. Suganuma Village and nine of its gassho-zukuri farmhouses are well-preserved and a few of them have become restaurants, minshuku, and museums showing the daily life and the washi paper and saltpeter industries that sustained the region. Gokayama Gassho no Sato has a number of traditional farmhouses which have been relocated here to save them from destruction. They are used by school groups who can stay overnight in the houses and experience activities from traditional Gokayama life.

Activities: Photo stop, Stroll around Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour

Nearby Areas

One hour drive from Shirakawago is Takayama’s old town. The whole area has been beautifully preserved with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period. The southern half of the old town, especially the Sannomachi Street, survives in a particularly pretty state with many old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries.

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