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October 7, 2005 – A journey to Shirakawa-go Ogimachi, Japan in Asia

Shirakawa-go Ogimachi, A Unesco World Heritage Site

After the four-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo to Takayama, we took a two hours bus ride through the mountains to the small village famous for it's gassho-zukuri houses, Shirakawa-go Ogimachi, also a Unesco World Heritage Site. This sounds like a lot of traveling, but it was definitely worth it and really not that bad, especially if you start early in the day. Plus, you're able to see a lot of Honshu-Japan along the ride (and catch up on some sleep).

entrance to Shirakawa-go Ogimachi

Once in Shirakawa-go, we checked into a minshuku (family-styled Japanese B&B), Yokichi, which is also one of the gassho-zukuri houses. The owner spoke little English but was very hospitable. I'd say one of the nicest people I've met in Japan (but then again, mostly everyone is very nice and helpful here). The minshuku was quite a pleasant surprise as I didn't know what to expect from one. We had a large tatami room facing the Sougawa River (hot springs water is its source - that's why the deep aqua-green color).

tatami room with futons layed out

Sougawa River - the mad-rushing river sounds soothes you to sleep

After checking in, we wandered around the town by foot. The scenic mountain village has a very peaceful feel to it. It felt like stepping back into time, where life was at a slower pace. Tried some street snacks, such as mitarashi dango (grilled soy-sauce based pounded rice dumplings) and grilled tofu with a special sauce on it.

Walked by and viewed a couple of temples and some gassho-zukuri houses. We decided to skip seeing the insides of two of the main gassho-zukuri houses. Figured that similar architecture, the interiors, and artifacts can be seen in the open air museum at Shirakawa-go Heritage Museum, a very-well preserved but uninhabited part of the village.

in the village

inside the open-air museum

Afterward, we went back to Yokichi for dinner. The stay included a full dinner and breakfast. Took these meals in a private separate room from the sleeping quarters. The region's cuisine specializes in hoba miso (miso mixed with vegetables and roasted on magnolia leaves), kawasakana (river fish), and sansai (mountain vegetables). Both dinner and breakfast had an incredible amount of food. Mouth-watering delicious and very filling!


hoba miso

traditional irori - for cooking and for warmth

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