In Gifu Prefecture in Japan is a historic village in the mountains called Shirakawago.
The roofs of the houses in Shirakawago look like hands in prayer and are called gassho zukuri. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is a small village, with one main road running through it, and there are houses, shops, museums, and displays for tourists. There are no convenience stores or train stations. You must come by car or tour bus.
The roofs are deeply slanted thatched roofs, to let snow slide off rather than collapsing inside. They all face north and south to minimize wind resistance and prevent rotting in the roof. Some of them are over 250 years old.
The buildings are interesting from the outside, and you can go inside some of them.
A few are set up like museums, so you can see what kinds of tools people used and how they used to live. They have huge attic spaces and the diifferent stories served different purposes, like living, sleeping, food storage, tool storage, and small construction and manufacturing.
The roofs are made without nails and are designed to withstand heavy loads of snow. The large attics used to house silworms
In one building there is a man cooking a warm milky tea over a fire in the middle of the room. I imagine an open fire would have kept the place warm in the colder months. It was cold when I was there, so it was nice to get a warm drink.
After walking through the village exploring the shops and farmhouses, you should hike up the small hill for a lovely view. The hike is not difficult, but you can take a shuttle if you’d like.
Since the village is far into the mountains, it would be fun to stay in one of the guesthouses. Or you could stay in a nearby town, like Gero or Takayama. It is also possible to do this as a day trip from Nagoya, as I have done once.
What do you think of Shirakawago in the winter? Would you like to go here?
Read: Shirakawago in May (coming in May)