Japan
Togano

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23 travelers at this place:

  • Day50

    Shirakawa-go Historic Village

    October 16, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Another early start - of course! Multiple trains and buses heading north-east out of Kyoto up along the isolated central northern coast. After a few hours, we arrived in the historic village of Shirakawa-go. This is a small village of wooden huts that have an unusual design - tall peaked roofs like Scandinavian houses. In this isolated area they get a lot of snowfall during the winter, so the steeply angled and thatched roofs help with shedding snow quickly and easily. Unusually for Japan, the local residents also build multiple storeys of attics into these roofs, and use them for small crafts like silkworm rearing and silk production.

    Essentially it's in an isolated area without much arable land, so whatever they could do to increase their income was needed! It was quite a nice village, with a sprinkling of houses against a dramatic backdrop of tall hills - not quite mountains. Nice colours as well with the early autumn, though despite the remoteness of the area it's definitely made it onto the tourist trail and we definitely weren't the only ones! Oh well.

    Spent the day exploring and then a late afternoon train back to Kanazawa where we'd stay the night. We'd heard that train stations in the evening often have the best food: bento boxes, conveyor belt sushi and the like, so we hung around for a bit and then decided on sushi train for dinner. We stuck to the cheap plates of course, but still got a delicious meal for a good price!
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  • Day664

    Using what you got

    July 6, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Every time I get the chance to see somewhere new in the world, I'm struck by how many ways there are to "live". What I mean by that is that humans have been figuring out how to live in their environments for forever. Even within North America I've seen this. Take the Southeastern United States for example, where I grew up, clay bricks are extremely popular for building whereas in the Northwest US, it's all wood. Where I live now, in the Arctic, the people have had to be very inventive and creative to create dwellings and live in a treeless, clayless environment. But, they did it and have 27 different words for 'snow' to encompass all the different types and categories, illustrating that a simple precipitation word to non-Arctic peoples is a very important concept to Arctic dwellers.

    The same in Japan. In Shirakawago, a now-UNESCO designated heritage site, tourists can see the ingenuity of how traditional homes were built using what they had----grass--called 'gassho-style'. Not only were homes built using grass, but also shoes, clothes, bassinets, mats, etc. Instead of everything being seal skin like it is in Igloolik, it was grass.

    The village we visited is actually one of 3 such UNESCO designated villages. Their location deep in a mountainous region at high elevation both protected them from encroaching sprawl and redevelopment such that in the 1970s, local residents decided that this traditional style was worth preserving. They worked for 20 years to restore the homes back to their glory and achieve the UNESCO status, predicting that future tourists and Japanese would value this and bring economic stimulus. The steep mountains that surround these villages prevent any real agriculture of scale. Back in the day, the residents used to raise silkworms as a way to generate income.

    The houses' roofs must be replaced every 30 years. The roofs are very steep in order to repel and slough off accumulating snow. Plus, the houses are huge--like 3 to 4 stories tall and would accommodate extended families along with their silkworm cultures up in the attic.

    I am not sure what or how the residents not directly incorporated in the tourism industry do for money. They may commute to larger, nearby towns for jobs.
    Today, the village is awash with tourists and visitors. It is essential that the homes be protected for posterity but also economic reasons. To that end, the village has a crazy fire suppression system. There are essentially geysers set up every 30 m (100 ft) or so. They shoot something like 30 m (100 ft) in the air and are basically an unmanned fire hose. Instead of a knocked over fire hydrant that shoots upward, these shoot directionally towards homes and barns. They do fire drills every week or month, I can't remember, and the residents have to participate. They also do a test run of the geysers every fall to make sure they are working. Additionally, there are fire patrols that consist of regular residents making the rounds twice per day through the village to ensure there are no fire hazards that have unintentionally occurred throughout the day. Serious about some fire prevention in a town of grass homes.

    What was most interesting to me about the story of these villages was that when the residents decided to organize and preserve their village, it was the younger generation that prized this ideal and wanted to protect the traditional houses. The older residents at the time resisted with the argument that they needed to modernize and do away with these high-maintenance houses. I find that interesting because usually it's the kids trying to get the older generations to modernize while the elders try to impart the value of tradition and customs to the younger folk.

    As usual, the bathrooms were weirdly spotless. Also interesting and, according to Jonathan and I, taking things a bit too extreme was the fact that there were NO garbage cans. They just hands down refused to provide anywhere to throw garbage. Not in the restrooms, not in restaurants, no on the streets. Nowhere. And there were gobs of signs explaining that you would not find a trash can because there were none. We were instructed by the signs to carry all our garbage out. That even included diapers! That's where Jonathan and I drew the line. I mean, seriously, you have your baby with you and you're supposed to carry the baby's shit diaper with you the rest of the day in your purse??!! Isn't that lovely getting to sit next to that person on the bus ride back---the person with shit diapers in their bag. A little ridiculous if you ask me. But they didn't ask me and I didn't have an infant with me, thankfully, so I just shoved my plastic waste in my camera bag and moved on.
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  • Day17

    Shirikawa-go

    August 1, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    The old quaint folk village Shirakawa-go is really worth a visit. The houses there are so sweet and all around there are little light green rice fields. It's a fantastic place for a hike in the morning or the late afternoon, when there are no tourists around anymore. 😉
    I stood at "Ant Hunt", a very nice place with welcoming (only Japanese speaking) owners that made us all feel like home. Had a great time with the Taiwanese and Italian guys there! ☺️

    Das alte idyllische Kulturdorf Shirikawa-go ist wirklich einen Besuch wert. Die Häuser dort sind so süß und rund herum sind kleine sattgrüne Reisfelder. Es ist in fantastischer Ort für einen Spaziergang am Morgen oder späten Nachmittag, wenn keine Touristen mehr dort sind. 😉
    Ich übernachtete im "Ant Hunt", ein sehr netter Ort mit herzlichen (nur Japanisch sprechenden) Besitzern, die uns alle wie zu Hause fühlen ließen. Ich hatte eine großartige Zeit mit den Jungs aus Taiwan und Italien! ☺️
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  • Day5

    Shirakawa-go

    March 19, 2019 in Japan ⋅ 🌫 12 °C

    Aujourd'hui, nous avons visité les villages historiques de Shirakawa-go et Ainokura connus pour leurs maisons en style gassho. Si la neige était un peu présente , il n'y en avait pas sur les toits. C'est le défaut de la mi-saison! Les villages sont en tout cas entourés de magnifiques montagnes enneigées et rien que ça vaut le détour.Read more

  • Day10

    Shirakawa-go

    October 24, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Mit dem Bus in einer Stunde Entfernung liegt das kleine Dorf Shirakawa-Go - von allen Reisführern dringend empfohlen.
    Nett ist es dort, das stimmt. Aber eigentlich viel zu überlaufen durch die vielen Touristen. Auch sind die schönen traditionellen Holzhäuser nur vereinzelt zwischen normalen Bauten zu finden. Das kann man sich anschauen - einen Umweg braucht es dafür aber nicht. Wir hatten in 1,5 h alles gesehen, was es gibt...Read more

  • Day7

    Shirakawa-go

    October 27, 2019 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    Dopo una colazione tipica giapponese e una veloce pausa Onsen, siamo portiti in autobus. Dopo 2 ore di viaggio siamo arrivati a Shirakawa-go in questo paesino ai piedi delle Alpi Giapponesi, con le tipiche abitazioni con i tetti di paglia. Molto carina e tranquilla. Dopo circa 4 siamo partiti per Kanazawa, 1.30 di pulman.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Togano, 戸ヶ野

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