Shirakawa-Go, a small village in Gifu prefecture, was designated as a World Heritage in 1995 for its beautiful scenery and historical architecture. Its most significant feature is the roofs of the houses. The rooftop looks like two hands meeting at the fingertips, and are therefore called Gasshou, which literally means praying hands. The English term would be “A-frame.”
The village is located in a valley, surrounded by endless mountains. During the winter, snow falls heavily onto the village and the scenery becomes pure white, except for the dark brown outer walls. The contrast of the two colors is stunning. At night, the lights from inside the homes shine onto the white snow, illuminating the village. Shirakawa-Go is not only famous for its appearance, but also for its method in fire protection. During the beginning of November, the whole village does a fire drill, where water is discharged at once and sprayed onto the houses. Many people come to Shirakawa-Go to watch and take pictures of the fire drill. The people of Shirakawa-go work hard to maintain their homes, while living side-by-side with the environment and the natural hazards that we face.
You can also enjoy annual events and festivals that are related to the season and the change in nature, so no matter when you visit the village, there is always something to enjoy and learn. Shirakawa-Go teaches us the beauty of living with nature through its scenery, events, and festivals.