Friday, December 26, 2014

Shirakawa-go ((白川郷, "White River Old-District"), Japan

Hello! Happy New Year! This is the first of several postings from my holiday in Japan in October. I loved visiting the beautiful, colourful, scenic Japanese Village in Gifu. I hope you enjoy the photos and they inspire you to go too!

The Bridge leading from the coach/carpark to the Village

The Gassho-style houses found in the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are rare examples of their kind in Japan. Here the thatched roof steams as the early morning sun evaporates the humidity of the night

The roof shape, which looks like one's hands put together with the palms facing inward, is the origin of the name of the architectural style, "Gassho", which means to join one's hands in prayer

Shirakawa-go is an outstanding example of traditional human settlements that are perfectly adapted to their environment and their social and economic raison d’être

The structural space inside is typically divided into three or four levels which were traditionally used as a work space

Because of the mountainous terrain, traditional rice-field production was not wholly successful in the area, and so the farmers turned to alternative grains such as buckwheat and millet, cultivated in small fields, but even with these the farming was at little higher than subsistence level.

Sooo pretty!

House on wheels! The steep thatched roof ensures that the heavy winter snow does not make the roof collapse

Water is everywhere. There is no place in the village where you cannot hear the sound of running water


Hanging out

The silk industry that this area is famous for, survived, from the late 17th century until the 1970s; its requirement of large enclosed spaces for silkworm beds and storage of mulberry leaves was an important factor in the development of the gassho -style house

From the village you can walk up a hill to get an arial view of the village....

....and the surrounding hills. It is a truly lovely setting

I wonder how much this one costs?

The flowers are a delight!

The river adds a dramatic touch


ln the 8th centurv AD the Shirakawa-go/Gokayama area was opened up as a place for ascetic religious mountain worship, centred on Mount Hakusan, for a religious order that combined ancient pre-Buddhist beliefs with Esoteric Buddhism

In the later 13th century it came under the influence of the powerful Tendai Esoteric sect. which was in turn replaced by the Jo do Shinshu sect, which still very influential in the area

lts teachings played an important role in the development of the social structure of the region, based on the kumi system of mutual cooperation between neighbouring households

Japanese scarecrows!

Back to the river and to the coach to go back to Takayama. The next posting will be dedicated to Takayama