VIDEO: Japan's historic villages of Gokayama and Shirakawago

Hands-in-prayer farmhouse in Gokayama, photo by Takahiro Takiguchi
Hands-in-prayer farmhouse in Gokayama, photo by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO: Japan's historic villages of Gokayama and Shirakawago

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan


Welcome to virtual vacation video series where we can explore destinations from the comfort of our homes.

Join us as we take a short virtual journey to Gokayama and Shirakawago in Japan.


The great thing about this destination is that getting there once used to be difficult, but the recently opened Chuo and Tokai-Hokuriku Expressways means it is a five-hour-drive to this region.

Both Gokayama and Shriakawago are recognized as World Heritage Sites. Here you’ll see farmhouses shaped like "hands-in-prayer" dotted along the pristine rural landscape.

Some of the must-see spots in Gokayama and Shirakawago include:

  • Ainokura Village in Gokayama— This village is made up of 23 of the unique inversed V-shaped farmhouses built without nails. Check out the architectural features of the farmhouses inside the folklore museum. The farmhouses’ flexible joints, pillars and beams complete the resilient structures which can withstand the large amounts of snow that falls in the area in the winter.
  • Ogimachi Village in Shirakawago – This is the largest village in the region and here you can spend the night in “minshuku.” Minshuku are private homes that accept guests. Stroll along the main Shirakawa Kaido Street, and you can find a lot of food, souvenir shops offering various local delicacies. The Wada House is a well-preserved farmhouse built in more than 300 years ago and is still in active use. Head to the Ogimachi Castle ruins for a view of the whole town from its observatory on the hill.
  • Gujo Hachiman City – Head to this location about a 1.5-hour drive from Shirakawago. This castle city with impressive streets filled with traditional wooden town houses, features a majestic five-storied castle. The castle grounds offer great views of the town and surrounding mountains. In the summer, the town is host to Gujo Odori, a bon odori festival held every evening from mid-July through the beginning of September.

While you are there, don’t forget to check out a local bamboo percussion instrument called "sasara," available in the folklore museum or souvenir shops, as it makes an extremely mellow sounds just like a gentle breeze.

I hope you enjoyed a look at Gokayama and Shirakawago through my travel photos and that it's inspired your next trip. Stay safe and get ready to travel with us in our next video. Thanks for watching!

Ainokura Gokayama

Gujo Hachiman

Gujo Hachiman

Shirakawago, file photo



Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Related Content

Recommended Content

Around the Web