A World Heritage village where 59 gassho-zukuri houses can be seen
Gassho-zukuri houses have the characteristic of solid thatched roofs that resemble hands pressed together. It’s said that these traditional houses only exist in Japan in Gifu Prefecture’s Shirakawago and in Gokayama in the adjacent Toyama Prefecture. Currently, 3 gassho-zukuri communities have been registered as World Heritage sites, and among them, Shirakawago is the largest. It has been maintained as an Important Preservation District of Historic Buildings which includes a 45.6ha part of a forest at the foot of a mountain. In this area, 59 gassho-zukuri houses exist which can be enjoyed as a tranquil spectacle unchanged since the Edo Era.
Even now, people’s way of life is going strong in the gassho-zukuri houses
When it comes to the symbolic gassho-zukuri houses of Shirakawago, there is the Wada-ke House. 300 years after its construction, the people there continue to live their daily lives. Among the gassho-zukuri houses left in Shirakawa Village, it is the largest house where the garden, hedge, the surrounding rice fields and irrigation canals are also beautifully preserved. At this time, part of the 1st floor and all of the 2nd floor are open to the public. You can view household items that have been used for generations among other things at Wada-ke House. Elsewhere, there is the Nagase-ke House where medical instruments from the Edo Era can be found, Kanda-ke House, which has been praised for its high level of completion among the gassho-zukuri houses, and other houses which can be toured.
Enjoy tasting doburoku only here as a wish for a good harvest
Doburoku, an unrefined sake, is THE liquor to be sampled in Shirakawago. Legally speaking, it is prohibited to brew doburoku in farming villages and the average household, but some of the shrines in Shirakawago are allowed to do so. Annually from October 14th-19th, the Doburoku Festival is held at every shrine to pray for a good harvest in the coming season. After doburoku made from harvested rice is offered to the gods, it is given to worshipers. For those who cannot attend the festival, they can head for the doburoku festival building within the grounds of Shirakawa Hachiman-gu Shrine. There they can sample a special glass of the liquor.