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For most of their history, the Shirakawago Villages have lain hidden in the deep, snowbound valleys of the northern Alps, under the shadow of sacred Mt Hakusan.

The traditional style of housing, the Gassho Zukuri, designed with steep, thatched roofs to withstand the weight of snow, has survived in this area long after it has disappeared from other, more accessible, areas.


'Gassho-zukuri' thatched houses of GokayamaThe region was opened up in the 1960s when the river upstream from the villages was dammed, and the subsequent highway into the mountains constructed. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and consequently the number of visitors, and gift shops, has increased dramatically. That said, the village is still a fascinating remnant of an older Japan, and well worth a day trip from Takayama.

For the more adventurous it is even possible to stay overnight in one of the traditional houses.

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Suggested itinerary featuring Shirakawago

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Shirakawago, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Shirakawago

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    Places near Shirakawago