Shirakawa-go is loacated the the foothill of Mt. Haku-san (pictured above) in Gifu prefecture, in the centreal eastern part of Japan's main Honshu island. Mt. Haku-san was regarded as a sacred mountain in ancient times, and monks started going to the area for ascetic practices in the 8th century.
Eventually the area became developped into a hamlet. Because the place was in a remote isolated mountainous area that receives heavy snowfall, little interaction occurred between the village and the rest of the country. Hence the village developed a unique culture.
The most striking element of this unique culture is the architecture of the houses. The thick thatched roof of the houses is something you rarely see, if ever, in other parts of Japan. The village still has some 114 houses of that type!
The rooves were made to withstand the heavy snowfall. The already beautiful village turns into something even more outsanding and charming in the winter! People still actually live in those houses.
You can visit Shirakawa-go during any season. Every season has its own charm. You'll see cherry blossom trees in the spring, cultivated rice fields in the summer, nice autumn colors in the fall and of course lots of pure white snow in the winter. You are free to take a stroll in the village and some houses are open to the public.
Shirakawa-go is definitely an enchanting place to visit! If you are on vacation in Japan and have the JR pass, why not take the shinkansen to go there? Check out the link below for more information on how to access the site.