Japan’s Rural Charm Comes Alive at This Traditional Alpine Village

With Olympic coverage shining a spotlight on Tokyo, Japan's dynamic urban beauty is on full display. Far from the noise and excitement of the city, Japan's rural countryside holds oft-missed beauty of a different kind to match its metropolitan counterparts. Japan’s rural areas provide a glimpse of the past, a preserved picture of classic Japanese Architecture in the shadow of ancient forests and frosted mountains.

You don’t need to journey as far north as snowy Hokkaido, with its world-famous skiing, to experience the splendour of rural Japan. 3.5 hours west of Tokyo by train, tucked away in the mountains of the landlocked prefecture of Gifu, you’ll find the historic village of Shirakawa-go, stunning in its unspoiled, traditional beauty.

Originally established specifically for its remoteness, Shirakawa-go, untouched by time, enables visitors to unplug into the quiet calm of daily life from a bygone era. Composed of roughly 100 thatched roof Japanese gassho-zukuri farmhouses, Shirakawa-go offers guests rustic shelter from the snows of winter and the heat of summer. The largest village, Ogimachi, is flush with sightseeing opportunities and museums, and acts as the perfect staging point for venturing into the alpine valley beyond.

Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, an overnight or multi-night stay at one of Shirakawa-go’s fairytale farmhouses is the perfect way to experience Japan’s humble roots, and get far, far away from the concerns and worries of a post-COVID world. Warm yourself by a roaring farmhouse fire in the cool nights and enjoy traditional Japanese countryside comforts at a picturesque village from another era.

For more information on Shirakawa-go, visit https://www.japan.travel/experiences-in-japan/en/2879/

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