Today we are going to talk about something really special. A place that would put a smile on anyone’s face and a sense of amazement in anyone’s mind. This place is the Village of Shirakawa-go. It is true what they say, Japan holds so many more wonders than you can ever imagine, and this place is something that many travellers and want to be Japanophiles (non-natives that have a love of Japan) may never have heard of before. So, sit back and let us learn about this magnificent place and who knows you may be adding a destination to your bucket list or travel itinerary.
Location and Travel from Tokyo
Shirakawa-go is located almost dead in the centre of Japan. It is situated in the Shogwa River Valley. This valley has a river and is surrounded by mountains. Shirakawa-go in English literally means White River Old-District. Its remote location means that the villagers have been virtually un tampered with from the outside world regardless of the number of visitors they get per year.
Travelling here is a little simpler than it may seem. Though it is a long drive by car you can get there pretty simply in just over five hours. There are also bus routes from Tokyo to Kanzawa (biggest town near Shirakawa) then from there to Shirakawa-go. This one will take you a little longer, but the drive or bus journey is very much worth the effort.
History and Cultural Relevance
This village and the surrounding villages have remained pretty much the same for hundreds of years and as such has been named one of Japans many world heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Japan has many world heritage site but not many with this amount of history and this amount of pride from the people of the villages and indeed the people of Japan. They are celebrated for their keenness to keep the villages the way they are and have been for many years and hopefully many years to come. To simply say that these villages are a source of pride for Japan would be an understatement.
One thing that strikes you when you visit this place is the sense of community. It almost feels like an entirely different country. A country in its own right. And rightly so, many say. They have a sense of community that dates back thousands of years. They make and build their homes themselves (and beautiful homes they are too). They farm on their own land eating minimal to zero things from outside their regions. If you have ever heard of the nomadic way of life and thought about trying it, then these villagers are the ultimate teachers of that way of life. A true community that stands alone and beautiful, strong and happy.
For anyone who loves the idea of visiting Japan in the winter then there will be no other more beautiful place than Shirakawa-go. The heavy snowfall means that the picturesque villages and surrounding landscapes will ensure you experience winter in all its majesty.
Not only that though, it is located in such a unique climate that you will also have summer at its finest also and spring will be the most blossoming thing you have ever witnessed. And let’s not forget the autumn when the leaves change colour and harvest begins. It is so unique to have all four seasons be both full and distinctive seasons in one singular place and climate. It’s primarily this that allows them to only eat and farm the things they grow themselves.
If you took a photograph from the same spot in the village at the same time every week for an entire year you would see as you flicked through your images a perfect and picturesque look at the earths seasons in all its glory.
So, there you have it, the historic village of Shirakawa-go. For people looking for something different then you will not be disappointed. For people who love viewing immense landscapes and unique communities then get your camera and get on that bus to visit these villages and immerse yourself in the valley and feel all the seasons with your whole body and all your sense, this is by far one of the most spectacular places in the known world.
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