The World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go village is famous for its winter lights landscape. But how about the summer? In fact, the summer views are no less magnificent than the winter landscape. There is a powerful nostalgic feeling as if you’ve come to grandpa’s countryside house for the summer vacation. Let me introduce you a different picture, Shirakawa-go in the summer.
In summer it's best to visit Shirakawa-go early in the morning!
It’s best to go to Shirakawa-go early in the morning during the summer season. Especially around Obon season the parking lot is already full at 10:00. A long line of cars wait on the road to enter. The closest parking lot Seseragi Koen opens at 8:00, so those who do not want to walk long time to the village should arrive there rather early.
Shirakawa-go village is located in a valley between the mountains and thus surrounded by a fresh air which feels nice even in the hot summer. The village is explored on foot. If you get a little tired you can relax at a café and watch the scenery or you can sit on a bench and enjoy the freshness of the air with a cup of shaved ice. You can also walk a bit further to the observatory with great views over the steep thatched roofs, so spending 2-3 leisurely hours around the village is possible.
Access: Public transport: With a bus from Nagoya (Aichi prefecture), Takayama (Gifu prefecture), Takaoka (Toyama prefecture) and Kanazawa (Ishikawa prefecture). By car: Using Tokai-Hokuriku Highway, get off at Shirakawa-go IC and continue along Route 156 for about 2.5 kilometers
Beautiful colorful views created by nature
Summer in Shirakawa-go is rich in natural colors: the green of the mountains and fields, the blue of the sky, the white of the clouds, the fresh yellow of the sunflowers, and the tree colors of the old houses with steep thatched roofs. Nature’s colorful landscape is that beautiful and nostalgic… There is no need to say more, simply look at the photo above.
This is a great place to forget about your daily worries, get back to your childish innocence and walk around the souvenir shops or watch the fish in the irrigation channels.
Myozenji, a rare type of thatched-roof temple
Myozenji was built in 1748 by the Buddhist Jodo-Shinshu sect. Located inside Shirakawa-go village, not only the main building, but also the temple’s kitchen and bell tower have the specific steep thatched-roof style “gassho-zukuri”. Especially interesting is the bell tower, built 200 years ago, with its thatched-roof and eaves on the first floor. The temple bell was given away during the World War II, so unfortunately what stands there now is not the original.
Myozenij’s temple kitchen is the largest thatched-roof building in the village and is now open as a museum. It was the place where monks used to live. There is a parlor and a sunken fireplace “irori” where the fire is on for visitors even in summer. The upper floors exhibit local everyday items. The pillars and beams supporting the steep thatched-roof construction are impressive from inside. Access About 7 minutes on foot from Seseragi Koen parking lot.
The view from Myozenji's temple kitchen
You can view the entire village from the windows on the fifth floor of Myozenji’s temple kitchen. The panorama is slightly different than the one from the observatory, but in summer the wild flowers and the rice paddies can be seen very well.
Looking outside you will notice that all houses face the same direction. Indeed, all of them are built in the south-north direction. One of the reasons for that is to keep cool in the summer, but warm in the winter. Some other reasons are:
- The houses are exposed to plenty of sun, so that the snow thaws quickly in the winter and the thatched roofs dry and remain solid for longer.
- In this region the wind blows from south to north, so that the direction of the houses can prevent wind damage. Such explanations reveal the wisdom of the local people.
Some houses like Wada’s or Kanda’s are open to public as museums. However, don’t forget that even if Shirakawa-go is registered as a World Heritage Site, ordinary people still live in the village. Do not enter anywhere else, except in the publicly open houses.
Shirakawa-go village is a World Heritage Site which provides different views in summer and winter. While the mystical winter landscape is fascinating, the rich colorful summer view is also beautiful. Be sure to visit Shirakawa-go also in summer.
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