Tuesday, January 3, 2012

World Heritage Part 1: Shirakawago


World Heritage - Gassho-zukuri Houses in Shirakawago, Japan.

Hello everyone, finally I'm back. It's been 6 months since I've last posted here. I apologize for my missing in action. I've been very busy during the previous 6 months, preparing for my wedding as well as working on my new house renovation, furnishing and moving in just last December. So, finally everything is done and now i can get back to working on my blog again. The good news is, I've been taking pictures this 6 months, from Seoul in South Korea to Adelaide in Australia. I just need time to process those pictures and share them with you in this blog later.

Before I forget, Happy New Year everyone!! It's 2012 now. This year's new year weekend had been an exciting one for me, as I have finally traveled to one of the World Heritage sites in Japan - Shirakawago. It was more than 8 hours of travelling time from where I am, Kimitsu  town, which is located at the south of Tokyo. I actually wanted to visit this place at the end of year 2009, but cancelled the plan due to long travelling hours and expensive travelling cost. This is the second World Heritage sites in Japan that I have visited, after Nikko which I have visited twice in year 2009 and 2010.

Shirakawago viewed from Shiroyama Viewpoint

The Shirakawago and neighboring Gokayama regions line the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures of Japan. They were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the year 1995, famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.


One of the best season to visit Shirakawago is during the Winter. As Shirakawago is located in a mountainous area, it gets a lot of snow fall. The unique Gassho-Zukuri houses will then have their roof covered with snows, forming a fairy-tale like building. Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer", as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style developed over many generations and is designed to withstand the large amount of heavy snow. The roofs, made without nails, provided a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms.

Gassho-zukuri farmhouses in Shirakawago

Gassho-zukuri farmhouses in Shirakawago

Gassho-zukuri farmhouse

Gassho-zukuri farmhouse

Gassho-zukuri farmhouse

Ogimachi is Shirakawago's largest village and main attraction. It is a 50 minutes bus ride away from the nearest Takayama City, of Gifu Prefecture. Take the Nohi bus from Takayama bus terminal to Shirakawago. It cost 2,400yen one way and 4,300yen for a round trip. For details about the bus time table, click on here to visit the Nohi Bus English website.

To get to Shirakawago, you need to first get to the nearest city - Takayama. You can get there from Tokyo via the bullet train (Shinkansen) or by highway bus, which is a much cheaper option. It cost 6,500yen one way or 11,700yen round trip from Shinjuku Bus Terminal to Takayama and the journey takes 5.5 hours. For complete guide on ways to get to Takayama from Tokyo, click here.

A hut in Ogimachi.

Hut with Persimmon Tree

Gassho-zukuri farmhouse

Gassho-zukuri hut in Ogimachi

Snowman in Shirakawago

Gassho-zukuri farmhouses

A Gassho-zukuri style hut

A suspension bridge across the Shirakawa river

Gassho-zukuri farmhouses

The place was indeed a fairy land. This is only part one of the pictures to share in my visit to Shirakawago. In the coming days and weeks, I will post the Part 2 of Shirakawago visit, then I will also post articles about my visit to the other two World Heritage sites next to Shirakawago, namely Suganuma and Ainokura of Gokayama, which are also popular for their Gassho-zukuri style farmhouses. So, stay tuned for my winter wonderland trip coverage.

Taking pictures with snow in a cold winter can be tricky. The white snow can easily fool your camera into believing that the scenery is too bright, resulting the camera to underexpose your pictures. I have listed a few of my snow photography tips in my earlier post. Click here to go to that post for some winter photography tips.

I hope you enjoyed this article and look forward to my coming posts. Let me know what you think in the comment section. Do you have other Winter Photography tips? Share them with me in the comment section too. All of the above pictures are HDR treated. I hope you like them.


Update: To view World Heritage Part 2: Shirakawago, click here.
Update 2: To view World Heritage Part 3: Suganuma and Ainokura, click here.

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