Nestled in Japan’s Chubu mountains, the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are considered national treasures. Ogimachi sits in the Shirakawa-go region and is home to more than 110 traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Ainokura and Suganuma are found in the Gokayama region and are smaller, yet just as enchanting. All three villages are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and offer a fascinating glimpse at life in the Edo period.
Things to Do
The historic villages are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some more than 250 years old. With steeply pitched thatched roofs, they’re perfectly adapted to withstand Japan’s snowy winters.
Today, a string of Ogimachi’s gassho-zukuri houses have been converted into museums. One of the best is the Wada House, which was once the residence of one of Japan’s wealthiest silk trading family.
Feel like stretching your legs? The Shirakawa-go Viewpoint is just a 15-minute walk from Ogimachi village and unlocks sweeping views over the valley. Afterwards, head to the Shirakawa-go No Yu natural hot springs for a well-deserved soak.
While Ogimachi is the most popular village, Ainokura and Suganuma are just as special. Both are smaller and less developed, boasting an intimate atmosphere and fewer crowds. If you have extra time up your sleeve, they’re definitely worth the trip.
Thanks to Japan’s efficient public transport system, the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are easy to reach by bus. Ogimachi is just 50 minutes from Takayama, and slightly further from Kanazawa. Buses also run to Ainokura and Suganuma, though the trip takes a little longer and requires connections.