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One of the main attractions of the region is Ogimachi. It is the largest village situated in Shirakawa-go, Gifu, Japan. It flaunts dozens of old gassho-zukuri farmhouses kept in excellent conditions. You cannot even realize that some of these are more than 250 years old. The most beautiful thing about these amazing farmhouse structures is that they are designed and built in such a way that can withstand even the harshest winters. Surrounded by stunning green fields, these farmhouses become the best place to stay in the region, especially when the tops are covered in the snow in winters.
Ogimachi has over a dozen gassho-zukuri farmhouses that perform as minshuku, Japanese style lodgings. It’s highly recommended to spend a night here in one of these farmhouses to experience how traditional Japanese families live. You will get to know more about these gassho-zukuri buildings.
The biggest reason why Shirakawago's farm houses have steep roofs and massive structures is that the region faces a heavy snowfall in the winter season. One to two meters of snow covers entire Ogimachi Village during the peak of winters. Although the harsh weather conditions are difficult for the locals to bear, tourists can experience a rare scenic beauty of this idyllic-style winter landscape.
The remotest village of Gokayama, Ainokura is set far back in Shogawa River Valley. It is the largest village in the region where nearly 20 gassho-zukuri farmhouses are constructed many of which are occupied as private residences. The rest of these farmhouses are turned into museums, restaurants, and minshuku.
The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are two beautiful mountain village areas found in Japan. These secluded areas are popular for their traditional architecture such as 250 year old gassho-zukuri farmhouses for which they are declared as Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995. Shirakawa-go in Gifu and Gokayama in Toyama together make a popular historic site that tourists from all across the world come to see every year. Three historic mountain villages extend over this cultural property of over 68 hectares. The Shogawa River Valley along which these villages are situated gives this site impressive scenery. The gassho-zukuri farmhouses are a famous spot of the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. The meaning of this Japanese word, 'gassho-zukuri' is 'constructed like hands in prayer'. This is true with these farmhouses as well. The steep thatched roofs of these old structures look like hands of Buddhist monks joined together in praying position. It took several generations to develop this architectural style and survive heavy snowfalls, prevalent in this region during the winter season. The roofs are constructed without nails and made silkworm cultivation easy by providing a large attic space. Suganuma is divided into two areas that are connected by a tunnel. The first area is the Gokayama Gassho no Sato and the second one is Suganuma Village. You can explore this Gokayama village easily on foot. The tunnel that connects these two areas also link this village with parking lot situated on the hill.
How to Get Tickets?
You do not need tickets or passes to reach or explore Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.
How To Get Around?
Moving around the region is comfortable. You can hire a car or motorcycle and reach the destination of your choice in just next to no time.
What Should I Wear?
While visiting or vacationing in Japan, you must consider dressing casually in whatever makes you feel comfortable for a relatively longer periods of time. Considering heritage Buddhist culture, avoid wearing clothes that reveal too much when you visit sacred places. With light lifestyle clothing is preferably the choice for summers, such as skirts, shorts, casual T-shirts, etc., light jackets and hoodies can be seen all around in winters. Consider adding a few extra layers as evenings here can be extremely cold.
Best Time to Visit
The middle months of the year featuring late spring (March through May) and late autumn (September through November) are generally regarded as the best times to visit Japan, when the temperatures are mild, rainfall is little, and the skies are clear. Weekends bring lots of day-trippers to Ogimachi. It’s suggested to visit this village in during the week. For more amazing experience, consider spending a night in a minshuku or ryokan of the town. Almost all seasons fill the region with scenic beauty. The ideal season to visit the region is the winter season if you want to see the town covered with beautiful snow. You can also consider about the sakura season (early spring) when there are many cherry blossom trees in the region. The autumn is full of lovely colors. In case you want pleasant weather, summers are perfect to stay in the town.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, you do not need a dedicated guide. Transportation is easy and all the required information is available on this website.
How To Get There?
For overseas visitors, Shirakawa-go can be easily and quickly reached from Narita International Airport, the most venerated international airport in Japan. From with Japan, taxis, local buses, trains, and rental cars are handy options to help you visit all leading attractions across Kawasaki.
Pack to impress and the people in Japan are mostly dressed up in elegance and fancy. Cash up decently but never fret since Japan is mostly economical. The best thing about exploring Japan as a tourist is that no rail passes are necessary to commute. While it is fine for tourists to wear shorts and skirts, ensure they are not too revealing.