In India almost every city has a village attached nearby and these villages have a charm of their own. I have made many trips to my village with my family and have loved ‘my roots’ each time more and more. It was heartening to see a village in Japan too! When thinking of Japan, people first think of modernization, aggressive technology and concrete cities or unfortunately earthquakes, but i guess very few know that Japan cares to preserve its heritage and traditions safe from the hustle of the teeming world. Back home, in India many villages are gradually merging into cities, which is good and required at some point but as my Dad always insists we should never forget our roots, and that’s what i found in Japan…the message that one can touch the sky without letting go of the roots. And to explore this message further, we along with our friends, a total of 6 Indian families, set off on a weekend trip to this beautiful historic village of Shirakawa-go (“White River Old-District”) located in the village Shirakawa in the Gifu Prefecture of northern Japan.
This traditional and scenic village is famous for its Japanese styled thatched farmhouses called Gasshou-Zukuri (‘constructed like hands in prayers’). These are so designed to withstand the heavy snowfall in winter. Also another characteristic feature of these houses is that the roofs are built without using any nails and the attic at the top is traditionally used for silkworm harvesting. Some of these houses are more than 250 years old and the entire village is now preserved as a Unesco World Heritage site.
We visited Shirakawago the first weekend of March this year and stayed overnight at one such Gasshou-zukuri, named Nodaniya.
It was the first time we stayed in a Japanese guesthouse.The whole experience was really amazing! The Japanese interiors, the food and the hospitality made it all the more special. Since we had chartered a bus for the whole trip, we had the convenience to alight right in front of the farmhouse.The owner of the house,Mayumi San,a gentle cheerful lady greeted us with her warm smile and showed us around the house.
The reception area was nicely done with local handicrafts and framed photographs depicting the seasons and history of the place.
Towards the right was a wooden floored corridor with Japanese-styled rooms on either side. The rooms were all internally connected and could be partitioned by sliding doors.
Traditional tatami mats neatly covered the floors and the Japanese style dining tables at the center of each room, were all set with green tea and local cookies for us.
As soon as we set our luggage down we headed out to check the surroundings and we came across this beautiful hanging bridge over a gushing stream of freshly melting snow…the whole view was simply stunning…like heaven on earth !
After having a relaxing time hurling snow balls at each other and building a snowman, when we returned back as it was getting dark,the houses looked mesmerizing with the tiny square window lights..
Back at the guesthouse a fabulous dinner was already waiting for us…the whole arrangement and the art of decoration was just so appealing and tempting !
Once we were done with this sumptuous healthy meal,some of our friends went ahead to enjoy a soothing bath in the nearby onsen while we enjoyed chitchatting laying down on the comfy futons already laid down for us…
After a cozy dreamy night of wintery sleep,we woke up next morning to an equally elaborate arrangement for the breakfast after which we headed out to check the beautiful surroundings and the Wada museum- a Gasshou-Zukuri preserved as it is for visitors.
After a good time exploring the museum,we did some souvenir shopping an then headed for our bus to take us to the Shirakawago view point on our way back to Tokyo 🙂 🙂