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.
- Taking care of the flower beds
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
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.
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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