If you’re looking to explore some of Japan’s most picturesque villages, the UNESCO World Heritage Shirakawa-go village is a must-see. Surrounded by mountains, more than 100 Japanese traditional farmhouses are dotted across the quaint village. The distinct houses with thatched roofs are called “Gassho-zukuri” and are just like those you’d see in picture books or fantasy movies – let’s jump into the magical world of this tucked-away village!
The farmhouses in Gassho-zukuri style were built with steep, thatched roofs to shed heavy snowfalls in this region. The A-shape roofs resemble hands in a prayer position, which is why this style of architecture is called “gassho”, meaning praying. The farmhouses are also built without nails to be flexible and bear the weight of the snow. They generally have 3 or 4 storeys, and the attics were used as a workspace, especially for silk farming during the wintertime. The farming village came up with such a unique structure to be resilient to the severe winter climate.
What is also impressive is that the houses are preserved for generations while these roofs need re-thatching or a complete replacement once every few decades. It takes a whole day to re-thatch just one side of the roof, even with the help of 100 to 200 people. However, the villagers always lend their neighbours a helping hand because supporting each other is vital to surviving the region’s harsh weather. In Shirakawa-go, you can see not only the unique architecture but also the tradition and the community spirit like an invisible line connecting the houses.
Join us on our tour to Shirakawa-go to see the amazing aspects of their community and the beauty of Japan!
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Kintetsu International Express (Oceania) is an ATAS accredited travel agent in Australia, a member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. In Australia, we specialise in arranging Corporate and Group Travel for businesses, schools, religious groups and cultural organisations. We have Travel Centres in Sydney and Melbourne serving our Australian customers and offices in Cairns, Gold Coast and Auckland handling Japanese inbound tours. We are also an authorised travel agent to sell Japan Rail Pass and Kintetsu Rail Pass in Australia
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