Discover sleepy rural lifestyle in the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
For those seeking a sleepy rural vibe of Japan’s past where you see farmers, rice fields, valleys, mountains, and wooden houses, the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are exactly your place to be. Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these villages line the Shogawa River Valley and close to each other, but within the bounds of different prefectures: Shirakawago in Gifu and Gokayama in Toyama. The main attraction in the region is traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses with steep thatched roofs, the only examples of their kind in Japan and some of which are more than 250 years old. Several houses are still lived in, whereas others are served as guesthouses or souvenir shops, and even museums where tourists have a chance to look inside the traditional house. Ogimachi in Shirakawago is the most popular village with the most gassho-zukuri houses, while Suganuma and Ainokura villages in Gokayama are much more untouched and untouristy, perfect for intrepid explorers craving rural charm and traditional lifestyle.