Shirakawa-go, nestled in at the edge of the Shokawa River, is famous for its Gassho-zukuri (houses with thatched roofs) village. From the village, you can command a fine view of the snow-covered Mt. Hakusan. The uniquely shaped houses and their roofs have been passed down and protected from generation to generation since 400 years ago. In 1976 the village was selected as a national preservation district for the group of a historic buildings there, and then, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Magoemon, a typical Gassho-zukuri house, is a riverside inn located in the center of Shirakawa-go. They charge just a little over 10,000 yen a night, including two meals. They only have a communal lavatory and bathroom, but we didn’t feel stress because not many people stayed there that night, and everyone was friendly.
At the entrance, there is a wooden board to hit to inform them when a visitor has arrived. The first room is a wide-open tatami mat room with a traditional fireplace. We had dinner and breakfast here. Several small rooms next to this dining room are guest rooms. Our room was down the hall and about 10 square meters. It was simple but very neat and clean. Ouside the sliding doors, there was a wooden veranda with a small table and two straw cushions. We really enjoyed a tranquil time here in the evening and the morning, looking outside and watching people passing by.
By the way, in this village, the head of a family passes on their name from generation to generation, and so did the name of “Magoemon.” But the owner told me that custom was ended several decades ago. No matter what people try to do to preserve the old ways, our life style seems to change, little by little, doesn't it?
After the completion of a new expressway, access to Shirakawa-go has become much easier than before. More than a million visitors stop by this mysterious remote spot each year. And at the same time, the life of the residents has changed step by step. Most of the tourists who visit this village spend only a few hours here, and leave after a quick walk around and taking several snap shots. They don’t know how beautiful it is before sunset and after sunrise, how diligent and tidy the local people are, and how peacefully time is flowing under a sky full of stars. If you have a chance to visit here, please enjoy the nature of Shirakawa-go by staying overnight!
For reservations, contact: TEL 05769-6-1167 FAX 05769-6-1851
Shirakawa-go Video Series:
- Walking around Shirakawa-go: Refreshed by a variety of sounds of nature
- Unique Experience in Shirakawa-go: Enjoy traditional Japanese life at “Magoemon” Inn
- Shirakawa-go’S Yamamoto-ya: Restaurant in spring and summer, guesthouse in winter
- Wada House, Biggest in Shirakawa-go: A glimpse at village life in the old days
Was this article helpful?
Japan is a small island nation, but we have a huge number of surprising things to discover here. Many of these delights can be found when you step off the main street onto small side paths. I really enjoy studying about and researching various aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and then sharing this information with visitors to Japan. I hope you will enjoy it, too! ARTICLE INDEX & PHOTOS: An index of most of my Japan Travel articles can be found at the entry page of my blog, and my photos are shown here. 日本はとても小さな国ですが、大通りから一本小道に入ればたくさんの発見があります。日本人が積み重ねてきた歴史を学びながら、古い建物や庭を訪ね、物語の舞台となった景色を眺めて、皆様といっしょに日本文化の奥深さを探求していきたいと思います。