The village is famous for its farmhouses, which are built in a unique architectural style known as gasshō (合掌). The name means "hands together" as in prayer, referring to the steep roofs that keep the snow off in the winter. Underneath the roofs, the large attic area was used to house silkworms.
Another feature which has brought fame to the village is the Japanese game series Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (2002) and the anime series that followed. Although the village residents are not too thrilled that an anime series depicting large levels of violence has based itself on their village, it has brought the tourists nonetheless. Some locations from the anime series can be visited in Shirakawa, the most prevalent site being the Hachiman Shrine, the major shrine of the village where Rika Furude met an unfortunate end.
Hiring a car is also recommended if you wish to access the many different areas around Shirakawa-go; areas such as Hirase Onsen or Kawai Village (and some mountainous areas). In the snow season many of the roads leading up the mountains will not be open.
Joining a bus tour is easy way to visit Shirakawa-go. iSite Takayama offers a half-day trip from Takayama by comfortable bus every day. The fare is ¥3,800 for round trip.
Jin Homura Art MuseumThe modern art of Jin Homura's works featured in a traditional farmhouse is an interesting combination of old and new that enhances the art, as well as bringing new intrigue to the houses and architecture themselves. It has a completely different atmosphere from the various preserved farmhouses scattered about that merely contain artifacts.
address: 2499 OgimachiA collection of historic farmhouses moved here from other areas of the village in order to preserve them. Some of them date back to the 18th century. The buildings contain artifacts and objects used by the past residents as well as information about the history of the buildings and surrounding area.
Kanda Houseaddress: 796 OgimachiA well-preserved farmhouse that always has its fire lit. The second floor has similar artifacts as others in the village. Many visitors enjoy the traditional cat carrier. The third floor offers a good look at the inner construction of the house along with nice views of the rest of the town from the windows.
Wada Houseaddress: 997 OgimachiThis is the largest of the farmhouses in Ogimachi. It contains some artifacts used during its heyday. For those fans of ‘Higurashi no Naku Koro ni’ the Wada residence is Shion and Mion’s home
Nagase HouseThe house is well-known for its 11-meter length which comes from single trees used as horizontal beams inside the house. The house dates back 250 years when the Nagase family worked as doctors. The artifacts inside include medical objects, and things used in daily life.
Kaerikumo CastleThe castle disappeared into the ground, along with the town surrounding it, when a big earthquake struck one night in 1586. A goldmine near the castle was also swallowed by the earth that night, leaving people to speculate to this day that as much as ¥10 billion may still be buried there. Nowadays there is nothing left but a monument and some greenery.
Shiramizu FallsA scenic waterfall near Shiramizu Lake.
There are several beautiful natural landmarks nearby. One is Mount Haku (Hakusan), one of Japan's Three Famous Mountains, surrounded by a virgin forest at its foot.
Another is the Three Amo Waterfalls: Taka falls, Naka falls, and Ki falls, which can be seen along the pass leading to the Amo highlands.
Another waterfall, Hakusui Falls, pours from the artificial Hakusui Lake, which was created by a dam at an elevation of 1,260 m. To take a rest from hiking and relax a little, the area also has several hot springs, such as the Hirase hot spring bathhouse.
Shirakawa-go no YuA convenient hot spring for day visitors located right in the historic area. It's especially popular in the winter to warm up after wandering around town in the cold. They also offer rooms for accommodations.
Shiramizu no YuA hot spring for day travelers. It's a large area with a variety of indoor and outdoor pools to soak in and relax.