Shirakawa-Go, a mountain settlement in Gifu prefecture, was once considered an unexplored region. The treacherous mountains and snowfall restricted outside interaction, preserving the unique cultural practices and lifestyles.

Source: Gassho Travel

Shirakawa-go, A Magical Snowscape

The village was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical farmhouses, some of which are over 250 years old. The striking sloped thatched roofs are called 'gasshozukuri', which means 'constructed like hands in prayer', in reference to the similarity to Buddhist monks' hands while praying. These roofs can withstand the weight of the heavy snowfall expected each year. Another feature which gives the houses the cosy-looking winter atmosphere, is that the windows are built high up in the roof, originally to accommodate the silk worms that were often housed in the attics for silk production.

These days, far from being an unexplored region, the tiny village has become immensely popular with tourists. Close to 10,000 people descend on the area per day during the stunning light up event that happens every winter.

How to Reserve for Shirakawa-go’s Winter Light-up Event

Sadly, this popularity has brought with it many problems and in order to preserve the town in the future, a reservation system will be in place to enter Shirakawa-go itself, from the 2019 light up season starting in January.

According to the Japankuru Funding page, 'this is due to the problems faced in previous years due to over-tourism. Last year over 40000 people came in total for the 6 days of the event. This was reaching the limits of what the village can handle. By the end of the day, when people were trying to leave, the roads became like Tokyo in rush hour with barely any movement. In order to combat this, the Tourist Association have come up with a first come first serve system to be fair to all those that wish to come.'

Source: Gassho Travel

Although it adds a little bit of planning to your trip, now if you want to see the beauty of Shirakawa-go’s light up event, it’s guaranteed to not be too overcrowded.

More information including the planned dates for the event and how to reserve a place can be found on this page.

How to Help Out Through Crowdfunding

If you want to help this historic and picturesque town maintain their culture, they are currently running a crowdfunding campaign to publish guidebooks for visitors.

Source: Gassho Travel

When so many tourists arrive with little understanding of the village it can cause problems for the residents and result in the spoiling of the precious landscape. The guidebook will outline everything visitors need to know including opening times for shops, off-limit areas, how to avoid crowds and how to stay safe when the snowy conditions get treacherous.

The publication of the guidebook would help the town to manage the overwhelming amount of tourists. Anyone who backs the project will get their own guidebook when they attend Shirakawa-go's light-up event.

Back the project on Japankuru Funding.

Now if you get the chance, you can enjoy Shirakawa-go guilt-free, knowing that the beautiful and unique village will be preserved for years to come.

By - Jess.