Farmhouses of Shirakawa-go

Today’s photo is from the remote village of Shirakawa-go. This is a small farming village that most people didn’t even know existed until recent years. It has now become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, most famous for the traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses.

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They are built with incredibly thick, steeply slanting roofs. I mean thick. Easily a few feet. They are designed this way to keep out the incredible cold and also to allow snow to fall off easier. Shirakawa is in the mountains and gets a huge amount of snow every year, from several feet and up. You can understand the need to design the roofs this way to deal with that.

You can see some modern buildings are starting to pop up here and there, but quite a few of the old farmhouses remain. Because this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the tourism is just crazy. I took this shot relatively early in the morning so the crowd isn’t out yet, but you can still see the early-risers here and there. Tourism has become so great that a lot of the farmers have actually converted their houses to shops or inns, making many think this site may soon be removed from the World Heritage list.

I took this photo from a nearby mountain. An easy climb, but I was still tired enough from it that I wasn’t that careful with this shot. Oh well—maybe next time, eh? 🙂

(Click on the photo for a larger version, and go grab the original at flickr. It is completely free: Download it, share it with your friends, do whatever you want with it, just please give me credit and link back to this page)

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6 Responses to Farmhouses of Shirakawa-go

  1. Taeko Friday, 14 May 2010 at 7:00 am #

    oh…. I deleted my comment myself accidentally… >_<;; start it over here…Thank you for explanation what HDR is. First I checked it in my dictionary (ハイ[高]ダイナミックレンジ(の)、超高階調{ちょう こう かいちょう}(の)◆複数の露出で撮影した写真を合成することによって得られる、ダイナミックレンジの広い画像形式。)←I really didn't get it. And then I checked it in Wikipedia (JP version), but still didn't get it. But now I understand it better from the other page of your today's post, and also I get it why sometimes your pictures looks like a oil paintings. Nattoku...arigato~. Yes this view of Shirakawago is beautiful. Winter version covered with snow is also beautiful. Each whole house in this village looks like a Xmas tree.

    • JapanDave Friday, 14 May 2010 at 11:20 pm #

      HDR is a very new technique. It’s quickly evolving and only a handful of pros have really embraced it, so info about it is hard to come by. Glad you found my explanation useful.

      I wish I could go there in winter for photos, but the tour guide told me the town is closed to tourists all winter long. D’oh.

  2. Taeko Friday, 14 May 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    oh…. I deleted my comment myself accidentally… >_<;; start it over here…Thank you for explanation what HDR is. First I checked it in my dictionary (ハイ[高]ダイナミックレンジ(の)、超高階調{ちょう こう かいちょう}(の)◆複数の露出で撮影した写真を合成することによって得られる、ダイナミックレンジの広い画像形式。)←I really didn't get it. And then I checked it in Wikipedia (JP version), but still didn't get it. But now I understand it better from the other page of your today's post, and also I get it why sometimes your pictures looks like a oil paintings. Nattoku...arigato~. Yes this view of Shirakawago is beautiful. Winter version covered with snow is also beautiful. Each whole house in this village looks like a Xmas tree.

    • JapanDave Saturday, 15 May 2010 at 8:20 am #

      HDR is a very new technique. It’s quickly evolving and only a handful of pros have really embraced it, so info about it is hard to come by. Glad you found my explanation useful.

      I wish I could go there in winter for photos, but the tour guide told me the town is closed to tourists all winter long. D’oh.

  3. Andrew - The Unframed World Monday, 5 March 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Great shot and way to embrace HDR. I’ve been recently getting into it myself. Kudos. I had the pleasure of visiting Shirakawa-go in winter and it’s easily my favorite weekend trip taken in Japan. I just came across your site via the Google + unofficial recommended users lists. I’ll be back. Thanks Dave! よろしくね。

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    […] is the same village I posted the wide shot of a week or so ago. Can you find Nagaseke in the wide […]

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