Shirikawago – Japanese Alps,Travel Photo Mondays #23

Travel Photo Monday

Shirikawago – Japanese Alps

Thanks for joining us today, I’m taking you up into the Japanese alpine country to this unique Unesco World Heritage site called Shirikawago and adjoining Gokoyama. These small villages up in the mountain areas of the Gifu and Toyama prefectures contain the historic architectural style of grass homes called  Gasshō-zukuri or ” Prayer hands” which resemble two hands raised up to the heavens in prayer.  The homes are uniquely identified with their thick straw-thatched roofs and are solidly built to withstand the alpine and cold winter conditions in the area. The steep slope and pitch of the roof lines are created to withstand the harsh winters and deep snows that linger in the region for long periods.  The many leveled homes are built for storage, housing and creating small industries like silk production up in their attics. The beautiful wood craftsmanship and details of the interiors of these homes are very unique to the region and mark an almost forgotten traditional lifestyle and way of living in this area of Japan.



Fall annual colors

Fall annual colors





Detail to the side of a Gassho Zukuri home

Detail to the side of a Gassho Zukuri home





Fall colors with elaborate flower beds blooming everywhere

Fall colors with elaborate flower beds blooming everywhere





Taking care of the flower beds

Taking care of the flower beds




Gate details at the main community center

Gate details at the main community center

During the timeframe that I was visiting, fall was quickly approaching and fall bearing crops like apples and persimmons where bursting with fruit, it is a beautiful and quiet time to really enjoy the area and take a lot of walks through the countryside and into the hills around Shirikawa. Taking nice long walks around the villages and up into the hills is one of the best ways to enjoy visiting the area and seeing the countryside from different vista points.



Persimmons ready for the taking

Persimmons ready for the taking




A storage structure

A storage structure


There are a few gassho zukuri in the village that have also been converted into inns for guests to stay and experience living and eating traditional foods in these beautiful homes. It’s a great experience to stay in the area overnight when all the tours have left and you can enjoy the quiet and solitude to yourself along with the rest of the villagers.  If you do get to visit the area, make sure that you book an overnight stay with board, it will be a wonderful experience to appreciate the craftsmanship, warmth and lifestyle of these types of accomations and the food that is typically prepared in the area.


Shirikawago - Japanese Alps

Fall time at Shirikawago


I hope that you enjoyed visiting this beautiful and quiet side of the Japanese alpine country, I’ll be taking you on a hike on my next post and we will also visit the inside of the the larger Gassho zukuri homes, so stay tuned for this. Meanwhile, please do visit some of these other bloggers posting about places around the world today for Travel Photo Mondays, click on any of the links below to visit their websites.


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17 Responses to Shirikawago – Japanese Alps,Travel Photo Mondays #23

  1. Elizabeth Krall December 9, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    The tall A-shape of these buildings reminds me of Switzerland — which I suppose makes some sense, given the alpine connection. These are great photos!

  2. Larissa December 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Beautiful photos–and it looks so different from my mental image of Japan (which admittedly I have never visited).

  3. NatureFootstep Travel December 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    love those buildings. Looks nice.

  4. Ruth December 4, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    I do love your photography and you have seen so many wondrous parts of the world. These were breath taking! Any tips on how to photograph a night?

    • Noel December 4, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      look for a light source out close by and try to avoid your flash, keep your aperture low and ISO at a level that will work

  5. Suzanne Fluhr (Boomeresque) December 3, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    I can see from your photos that we need a return visit to Japan. Your beautiful photos make that abundantly clear.

    • Noel December 3, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      Yes Japan is amazing, so many more places for me to visit, it’s amazing!

  6. Tonya {The Traveling Praters} December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    I had no idea that Japan had an Alpine district. Very beautiful. I was surprised when you wrote that it was nearing fall, I would have guessed mid-summer.

  7. BiTi December 2, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Thank you for the tour of the Japanese Alps, how lovely!

  8. Jesh StG December 2, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Certainly different from the common Japanese roof style and reminiscent of the Swiss Alps – also with the flowers. Love your captures here!

  9. Rhonda Albom December 2, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Wow, your photos are stunning. This looks like an amazing place. I pinned several of them. I didn’t even know there were Japanese Alps. Another place to add to my bucket list.

  10. Ritva's ART / Ritva Sillanmäki December 2, 2013 at 2:07 am #

    what a beautiful place the flowerbeds…

  11. muzachan December 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    One of my favorite places in Japan. Beautiful photos

  12. Patti December 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    I especially love the last photo!

  13. Anwar December 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    I love the thatched roofs. I saw them in Northern Honshu previously. Never made it here, but wish I had, so beautiful!

  14. Poppy December 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Hi Noel,

    Stunning photos of the Japanese Alps, which I have never really seen before! So glad that your images were my introduction to this most fertile land, overflowing with such dainty and delightful flower beds! What colour and pattern; picture perfect! I was intrigued to discover the meaning behind the architectural details of the structures, built to emulate the hands of prayer, to the skies above! Thank you for such an informative and beautifully illustrated post and of course, for hosting such an interesting meme!



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I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add

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