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Tourist Information

Exploring the Heart and Soul of the Center of Japan

  • Historic Townscapes and Hot Springs
  • Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site

Historic Townscapes and Hot Springs

In Takayama, the rows of antiquated houses almost make this place seem like the land that time forgot. Looking onwards, Gero Onsen (hot springs) is a place where visitors can enjoy Japan’s special brand of hospitality. Both are tourist spots where not only can you enjoy the food, the Japanese culture and the hot springs, but you can experience the warmth of the people of Japan firsthand.

Takayama

Takayama

A Journey to Experience Traditional Culture and the People Who Live There

Having developed as the center of a castle town and merchant town, Hida Takayama has been rated three stars in the Michelin Travel Guide. The sight of rows and rows of traditional businesses is part of the appeal of this place. Hida Takayama is a lively city with a multitude of shops to enjoy, including the sake brewers, the traditional crafts made by the skilled craftspeople of Hida, and Hida’s very own distinctive brand of beef, “Hida-gyu”. Many tourists flock from all parts of the world each year to receive a warm welcome from the local people of Hida Takayama.

Activities We Recommend

Foods We Recommend

The Sarubobo: A Charm Said to Bring Good Luck

Since times of old, sarubobo dolls have been sewn by mothers in households for their daughters or grandchildren as toys and as good-luck charms, in the hopes that they will grow up healthy and happy. The body and face of the sarubobo is covered with red cloth, and the arms and legs are wide open. Sarubobo dolls can now be found throughout the Hida-Takayama region as souvenirs.

Gero Onsen

Gero Onsen

Enjoy Blissful Relaxation at the Hot Springs, Famous in Japan for a Thousand Years!

Gero Onsen is one of Japan’s three most famous hot spring resorts. Bathing in these hot springs will help improve your blood circulation, relieve fatigue and bring overall improved health. The waters are said to be “waters of beauty” that will leave your skin feeling silky and smooth. Staying at the onsen-ryokan (hot spring inns) offers visitors a distinctly Japanese experience of relaxation. These inns offer not only lodging but a meal and a hot bath for tired travelers. Visitors will certainly be satisfied with the Japanese hospitality available here.

Things to Enjoy at Gero

Kicking Back with Meals Brought to Your Room in a Japanese Ryokan

Many Japanese hot spring inns offer meals that are brought to the rooms of the visitors. Enjoy dining at your own pace while being served by a nakai who will take care of everything from start to finish.

Winter Fireworks at Gero Hot Springs

Although it’s still winter, Gero Onsen offers a colorful display of lively fireworks from winter to spring (January - March) every Saturday. Top-rated fireworks artists give a splendid show based on different themes that are selected each time, making a truly memorable event.

  • Historic Townscapes and Hot Springs
  • Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site

map

Date Visited: November 15 - 16, 2012

Photos and Information Provided By:
Takayama City Hall
Gokurakusha (rickshaw)
Maruaki, Takayama Branch (Hida-gyu restaurant)
Gero Onsen Tourist Association
Yunoshimakan (hot spring inn)
Mori Coffee (café)
All rights are reserved for images on this website. Copying or reusing the images on this site is prohibited.

Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site

In the village of Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site, you’ll find houses that were built several hundred years in the past. The people of this village help and cooperate with each other as in times of old as they live out their lives. Also, over at Magome, you can see a town that has been preserved as it was in the Edo period, through the efforts of the residents of this area. Take a journey to experience Japan’s traditional scenery and hospitality for yourself.

Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go

The Thatched-Roof Village of Shirakawa-go – A World Heritage: Where Beauty and Wisdom Live in Harmony

Shirakawa-go is an area nestled in the mountains where a lovely thatched-roof village spreads out. The thatched-roof houses here in this snowy region were built from times of old with steeply sloped rooftops that look like two hands folded together (hence the name “gassho-zukuri”). Some of these houses were built more than 300 years ago, and there are more than 100 of these houses that can only be found here. In 1995, the area was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the residents of this village still carry out their lives as they always have. Visitors marvel at how each season in Shirakawa-go brings its own delightful changes in the agricultural scenery.

Things to See

The Wisdom Behind Gassho-zukuri Homes

(1) Unique steeply-sloped roofs
The roofs of houses in Shirakawa-go can support piles of snowfall, and make it easier for the snow to be removed.
(2) The amazing things that Japanese irori can do
The Japanese irori (a fireplace built into the middle of the first floor of a dwelling) serves not only to warm up the home and provide fire for cooking and light, but also gives off smoke that fumes the inside of the roof, which helps to ward off insects and prevents rotting of wood.
(3) There’s a reason why the houses all face the same direction
All of the roofs of gassho-zukuri houses at Shirakawa-go are built to face in a north-to-south direction, and the slopes of the roofs face east to west. This provides cool air in the summertime and makes the winters warmer, and the snow that further piles on the roofs in the wintertime melts off evenly, so that even the wet straw on both sides can dry the same, due to the direction of the wind and the amount of sunlight.

Magome

Magome

The Charming Post Town Built on a Slope

In the Edo period, Nakasendo was an important national route that connected Kyoto with Edo (now Tokyo). Situated on the steep slope of a mountain with its characteristic stone walls, Magome is one of the old post towns along the Nakasendo that prospered at that time. Although the town has undergone two great fires, the townsfolk have worked together to restore the town to much the same state as it was in days of old. The grand view of the Kiso mountain range that unfolds while strolling down the stone-paved slope of this lovely town is a must-see.

Souvenirs We Recommend

Take a Break after Walking the Slope!

The Box-Shaped Ruins that Served as a Post Town Stronghold

At the southern entrance of Magome perpendicular to the road, you’ll find two bends in the road, which is called a “masugata” (box-shaped) area. This shape was built to defend the post town against intruders, making it difficult for mounted horses to charge into the town.

  • Historic Townscapes and Hot Springs
  • Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site

map

Date Visited: November 15 - 16, 2012

Photos and Information Provided By:
Gassho-zukuri Minka-en Outdoor Museum
The Wada House
Shirakawa Village Office
Magome Tourist Association
Shimo-Ogiya (souvenir and craft shop)
Yamashiroya (souvenir and craft shop)
Minoru (café)
All rights are reserved for images on this website. Copying or reusing the images on this site is prohibited.