This week I am going to talk about Shirakawa-go and Takayama.
After Kanazawa, my parents and I travelled to Hida Takayama. We made a quick stop in Shirakawa-go on the way there. We were originally under the impression that we would have no time to look around the village but we were lucky. Thinking that we would never really get to see the village, I had planned on jumping off the bus and taking as many pictures as I could before the bus driver decided it was time to leave. This quickly changed when I was informed that we had 40 minutes before the connecting bus would be departing.
My new plan was to reach an observation deck halfway up a small mountain on the other end of the village. Now my mother being the sensible one informed me that it was a completely ridiculous idea and I would never make it. I disagreed and took as many pictures as I could while running through the village. I made it to the top in about 15 minutes and took this picture. I should also let it be known that my legs were quite sore for the next couple of days but it was worth it.
Shirakawa-go, “White River Old-District” is another one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It lies in the Shogawa river valley connecting the Gifu and Toyama prefectures. These villages are famous for their uniquely constructed homes. The architectural style known as Gassho-zukuri, “prayer hands construction” consists of very steeply pitched thatched roofs that resemble two hands praying. These houses are the only examples of their kind left in Japan. They are also extremely strong and withstand a heavy snowfall each winter. The residents survived on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the production of silkworms. The UNESCO website boasts the three remaining villages of Shirawakawa-go to be outstanding examples of a traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people’s social and economic circumstances. I would have to agree.
Takayama was a nice town. The main thing we visited was the Hida Folk village. It is essentially an open air museum aimed at preserving the lifestyle of the Japanese who lived in the gassho-zukuris. All of the thatched huts were relocated here from the Shogawa valley to preserve them.
Hida Folk Village
The rest of the town consisted of three castle ruins, old private homes, a market and temples. We did a walk through the Higashiyama temple area, took a tour of the Takayama Jinya, an old government building.
Old Private Homes
Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine
Our Minshuku (Japanese bed and breakfast, I will talk about it next week) was directly across the street from the Hida-Kokubunji Temple. This temple had a large 3 story pagoda and is the oldest structure in Takayama. It also had a 1200 year old ginkgo tree.
On our third day in Takayama we took the 3200m Shin-Hotaka ropeway which produced a great view of the Japanese Alps.
Here are the rest of the pictures. Next week is Magome.