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.
cover photo credit:663highland
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.
Bon Odori Summer Festival at Tsukiji Honganji
Obon (お盆) or just Bon (盆) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors by remembering and appreciating their sacrifices. People return to their ancestral hometowns, visit their families and also visit their ancestors’ graves. This has been evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people wear traditional yukata (or light cotton kimonos), get together, play games, dance in circles around yagura till they get hungry and then have food from stalls. This has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years. This Buddhist-Confucian custom originates from the story of Maha Maudgalyayana (Mokuren), a...
Top 5 Japanese Fashion YouTubers
Introduction If you love the quirky and cool Japanese fashion quotient, chances are you are always searching for Japanese fashion tip videos on your favourite social media sites, including YouTube. And why not? Some of the most amazing Japanese fashionistas – male and female – have taken over the YouTube channels to provide their dedicated viewers with tons of useful information about the latest trends in fashion and style. Whether you are looking for wardrobe makeover or just want to know what fashion brands are in vogue this season, these YouTubers have all the low-down you need. Many of these...
Top 5 Japanese Idol YouTubers
The world of Japanese Idols sure is fascinating, albeit a whirlwind. With a very competitive market, a lot of hopeful youngsters vie for a place in the industry. Usually, the only idols we know are those who are set to go onstage as タレント (tarento) or celebrities, based on their singing, dancing or comedic skills. However, there are also lot of people who have begun venturing in the digital world, mainly on Youtube. They are nowadays called Youtube idols. May it be for additional exposure, artistic freedom, or just as a personal hobby, these idols have definitely mastered the ins and...
Top 5 Japanese English Speaking YouTubers
One of the most important factors of putting up a Youtube channel is language. While Nihongo is quite known, it is certainly not enough if you plan on catering to a bigger audience. May it be lifestyle, culinary, beauty or fashion, using the universal language English is your best bet in attracting a wider reach. Introducing Japanese culture to an international community is rather difficult if the viewers only understand sugoi or oishi, right? Luckily, these Japanese vloggers (who are all household names on Youtube) continuously give us a glimpse of life in Japan – beyond subtitles. 1.Bilingirl Chika ＠bilingirl_chika ＠bilingirl_chika Adding a fun...
Izakaya Hopping in Kichijoji Harmonica Alley
Kichijoji has long been a famous tourist destination in Tokyo. Up until recently, Kichijoji has been ranked as the #1 most desirable place to live by Japanese and foreigners alike, and has a reputation for being a lovely and enjoyable place to live as well as visit. In the heart of Kichijoji, located less then minutes away from Kichijoji station’s bustling north exit, is the Harmonica Alley. Harmonica Alley (also known as “Harmonica Yokocho”), was originally a post-war black market; it now boosts over one-hundred bars, shops, and izakayas which are packed into it’s narrow streets. It continues to be...
What is "Ofuro Cafe"? - Japan's Ultimate Relaxation Center
Have you ever wanted to experience traditional relaxation from Japan? Well, we are going to do just that and talk about the ultimate in Japanese relaxation. I’m of course talking about the Ofuro Cafe. The Ofuro Cafe is your one stop shop for everything relaxing. It is very big in Japan but not so much over the rest of the world. Except maybe in Scandinavian countries where they practice a similar concept but in very different ways. So, prepare yourselves for something truly amazing that you may never have heard of before. What is Ofuro? @suno0809 A Furo is a...