Winter in Japan: Why You Should Visit The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go

Winter in Japan: Why You Should Visit The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go

This UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan’s Gifu prefecture transforms into one of the most magical places on Earth during winter.

Whether it’s the bustling shopping streets in Tokyo, gorgeously saccharine sakura flowers during spring or its abundance of rustic temples and shrines, Japan is a country that allures over and over again. From the shopaholics to foodies, nature-lovers and culture vultures, Japan certainly has got it all to cater to every type of traveller. And guess what? Here’s one more thing that we can add to the list for Japan being one of the most versatile holiday destinations – winter wonderland.

Image credit: Colin Tsoi

Located in the Gifu prefecture of Japan lies Shirakawa-go, a picturesque mountain village that is located at the foot of Mt. Haku-san. Come winter, this idyllic little town transforms into the most splendid winter wonderland, receiving snowfall that can reach up to two metres every single year!

Image credit: Colin Tsoi

Image credit: Colin Tsoi

Besides making for an extremely gorgeous holiday destination in winter, another reason to visit  the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go is the fact that they are one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are known for their distinctive grassho architecture, or “prayer hands construction” style – which explains the A-frame thatched roofs that resemble hands joined in prayer. This design helps the snow slide off easily, and thus allows houses to effectively deal with the weight of the heavy snowfall that the region receives during winter.

Image credit: Colin Tsoi

Image credit: Colin Tsoi

Some of the grassho-style huts even date back to more than 250 years, and have since been repurposed and refurbished into museums, cafes and guest houses.

Image credit: Hippo on tour

The best way to enjoy the sublime sight of this winter landscape? Go for the special night time illumination sessions in January and February, when the huts are all lit up with fairy lights. Fix your eyes on the perfect winter scene with the village huts all dressed in a soft golden glow against the snowy landscape – it’ll surely be a sight that you won’t forget.

There truly is no place quite as enchanting as Shirakawa-go in winter. The next time you’re thinking of revelling in a fairytale winter wonderland, you know where to go.

About Author

Beatrice Tan
Beatrice Tan

Beatrice absolutely loves stargazing and often fantasises about going into space one day. However, since she won’t be an astronaut anytime soon, her heart is set on being a globetrotter instead. She is always craving for a new adventure, and believes that travel nourishes the soul. You can most likely find her traipsing around the museum, or in a quiet café with her nose buried in a book, and a soy latte in hand.

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