Explore the gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some dating back 250 years…
Driving through a series of tunnels, you arrive at a village cut off from the rest of the world. Shirakawa-go is located at the foot of Mount Hakusan, one of three holy mountains in Japan along with Mount Tate and Mount Fuji. In winter, the snow piles up over two meters high covering the village in a blanket of white powder from December to March.
The main attraction is the gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some over 250 years old. Their A-shaped thatched roofs resembling the hands of praying Buddhist monks are most interesting, designed to withstand winter’s heavy snowfall. The local villagers rethatch them every 30 years gathering early in the morning to work on the roofs all day long, a community effort we call yui that literally means ‘a tie’ or ‘a knot.’ This collaborative work, the essence of yui, is vital to living in the harsh, mountainous environment and one of the major factors as to why this village is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the construction is finished, they all celebrate outside with food and drink.
Some of the families here open their houses to the public to offer an insight into life in the village allowing you to get a closer look at the thatched roofs and the work that has gone into creating them. Lunch is local hoba yaki, a medley of mushrooms and meat cooked over a charcoal stove and served on a dried magnolia leaf. The flavours are well balanced with miso bubbling around the edges and paired nicely with rice and sake.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Richard, who's travelled extensively in Japan. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the tea devotee who'll introduce you to the ceremony surrounding Japan's national drink, the noodle guru who'll teach you how to make the perfect bowl of soba and the ryokan owner who'll tutor you in the relaxing art of the onsen.
Freephone an expert 01306 744 656