The home of the famous Gassho-zukuri farm houses, Shirakawago is a UNESCO world-heritage site well known across the world.

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A traditional gasshō-zukuri farmhouse in Shirakawa-gō | Photo by

Meaning “hands in prayer”, the famous roofs are built to withstand heavy snowfall and to provide spacious loft spaces for silk-worm cultivation. Ogimachi is the most-visited town in the region, with many traditional homes still lived in, some serving as museums and some even offering overnight stays and onsen. In the winter, the town of Ogimachi is illuminated in the snow, creating a magical scene. Across the river, there is an open-air museum in the town with some carefully restored examples including the oldest home in Shirakawago – built in 1750. The nearby Gokayama region has similar buildings but is slightly trickier to reach – although this means it is less crowded and the towns are quieter and more traditional.

The village of Ogimachi is free to enter but the individual museums each charge entry, which can add up quite quickly. The Museum costs 600 yen for adults and 400 yen for children. To reach the area, catch a bus from Takayama, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Toyama or Takaoka to Ogimachi.

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For a detailed guide to enjoying the village, see our article on visiting Shirakawago.