I am at a loss of words to describe this place!
Shirakawa-go -is a Unesco World Heritage site. It’s a village nestled in a valley amidst spectacular Hida mountains. One part of Shirakawa-go (or Shirakawago) is a real farming village, another – is an open air museum of thatched roof-houses salvaged from nearby villages that were flooded when a local dam was built.
The scenery here is drop-dead gorgeous. It’s a postcard, a paining,Ukiyo-e.
This area gets hit with heavy snow in the winter: routinely, 5 – 10 feet. So the two-foot thick thatched roofs are built to withstand the weight. There is a photograph of the village in the snow, and it’s out of a fairy tale.
The open-air museum area is landscaped in the Japanese fashion, with water and rocks being important elements. One little house was placed on a man-made island, surrounded with water, rocks, and flowers – the stuff of picture books.
To reach the living village, we had to cross the rushing waters of a mountain river on a suspended bridge. The beauty here is such – it hurts. I exhibited all the symptoms of Stendhal Syndrome. One is supposed to experience this from art, but this scenery was art, created by the ultimate artist of them all – Nature itself.
The village, although not as perfect as the museum village, is still a charmer. It’s a mix of farmhouses, barns, and some historical houses turned museums.
The high point was drinking coffee at an outdoor cafe facing a small rice field that was guarded by four quirky and most adorable scarecrows, and beyond, the thatched-roof houses and the stunning mountains on the horizon.
Oh, in this coffee house, you pick a cup you want your coffee to be served from a hundred or so different cups hanging over the counter, arranged on a table, and displayed in a cupboard. I picked one from the cupboard. A Japanese number, of course. I am crazy about Japanese pottery! My coffee arrived in an irregularly shaped clay cup indented by the potter’s fingers, on a saucer with one edge elegantly bent upwards.
Have I told you how much I admire Japanese sense of style? 🙂
The middle-aged proprietor spoke English (which is a big deal!). She asked us if we were Americans and said we were very welcome here. No resentment over the bombs that hit Hiroshima/Nagasaki in her infancy. Everyone should learn from the Japanese to leave behind the hard feelings about events transpired a lifetime or two ago, and move on!
So this village is a jewel! One of the most breathtaking sceneries I’ve ever seen. Possibly nothing we are yet to see is going to beat this.


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