Shirakawa Village or perhaps better known as… Hinamizawa

3 08 2009

Heya,  I seem to be averaging one post every 4 days or so, which is pretty terrible.  Nonetheless, I’m very grateful for all 3o or so of you who read my blog :).

Today’s post is about Hinamizawa Shirakawa Village, which is located in the northern corner of Gifu prefecture and about 250 kilometers away from Nagoya.  Most of you probably don’t know, but Shirakawa village also happens to be the village that Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and its sequel Kai was based on.  I hope I’m not imagining the resemblance :P.

Hinamizawa...

Hinamizawa...

Hinamizawa... no I mean Shirakawa

Hinamizawa... no I mean Shirakawa

Because the anime happened a while ago and I never finished it for some reason, I can’t remember a whole lot of it.  Also, I was traveling with others so this article will be about the village and not so much about anime comparisons.

The village itself is one of 14 UNESCO world heritage sites in Japan, and it is famous for its Gasshou tsukuri or touching palm houses.  The houses are essentially wooden houses with sloping thatched roofs.  The village is over 250 years old in certain places, but for the most part it’s over 100 years old and is home to roughly 2,000 people.  This is officially the least populated village that I have visited in my entire life.  Of course, it’s also home to um… Keiichi, Rena, Rika, and company…

Visitor's Center

Visitor's Center

First stop is the visitor’s center.  It’s been raining nonstop for about two weeks in Central Japan, so I had no choice but to embark on a trip while it was POURING.

合掌作り or Gasshou House

合掌作り or Gasshou House

Main Street, there really is only one major street in a village as small as this.

Main Street, there really is only one major street in a village as small as this.

I think it’s the first time it’s rained so hard that its gotten in the way of me shooting a picture.  All of the houses are private homes, but some of them are open to public visitors for a fee of course (stingy people).

I didn't notice I got water on my lens

I didn't notice I got water on my lens

Most of the houses are actually laid out in a very similar way, so if you’ve seen one you’ve kind of seen them all :P.  Anyway, this is the living room where they have burning cinders to heat a pot of water and I guess they huddle around it for warmth too.

All the houses have their own mini shrine of sorts.

All the houses have their own mini shrine of sorts.

Exhibits

Exhibits

The houses themselves are all three stories tall, and on the second floor they had a bit of a mini museum set up.  They had all kinds of relics and family heirlooms on display.  I learned a bit about Japanese history :).

DSC_2371Onwards to the next houses!

Overexposed cloudy skies

Overexposed cloudy skies

These houses are everywhere in the village, and often come with their own rice fields too!

DSC_2409Some of the wealthier houses actually have their own Buddhist sanctuary inside.

Private Buddhist Sanctuary for the wealthy

Private Buddhist Sanctuary for the wealthy

DSC_2417Walking a little farther north brings you to the shrine… which also charges an entrance fee… absolutely ridiculous.  They have some sort of micro-transaction strategy where everyone charges you 300 yen, and before you know it you’re down 2000 yen from visiting houses.  If I’m not mistaken, this is also the shrine that Rika gets disemboweled every time :(.

snapshot20090805223621

Shrines are everywhere in Japan

Shrines are everywhere in Japan

There is a suspension bridge that goes across a huge river to the bus stops and visitor reception area.  Across the river is also the only area where you’re allowed to smoke as these houses are literally giant tinderboxes.

Imagine if this was a rope suspension bridge...

Imagine if this was a rope suspension bridge...

Across the river is also an especially well preserved section of the village, accessible for a fee of 500 yen.  I’m getting poorer real fast here.

Snack Bar selling yummy crocquets and traditional ice cream flavors.

Snack Bar selling yummy crocquets and traditional ice cream flavors.

Of course I paid the fee and off I went.  The area was almost completely deserted, I’d blame the entrance fee if there wasn’t so much rain.

The house has a plasma tv inside which shows a 40 minute long documentary on the village

The house has a plasma tv inside which shows a 40 minute long documentary on the village

Model House!

Model House!

Watermill!

Watermill! It actually is still in operation.

I don't even know what to call this machine.

I don't even know what to call this machine.

Pencil drawing of the village from 50+ years ago

Pencil drawing of the village from 50+ years ago

Old school rain gear

Old school rain gear

A lot of families still keep silk worms in their attic

A lot of families still keep silk worms in their attic

I ended my trip to the observation post, which is really just a house built on top of a hill overlooking the village.  The walk itself is about an hour long one trip and rather steep.  Though luckily, they sell ice cream at the top :P.

I need a tripod for a panoramic shot :(

I need a tripod for a panoramic shot 😦

DSC_2498This village was actually a very pleasant place to visit.  It’s isolated and nestled deep in the mountains and has an impeccable atmosphere.  I’m super grateful to my coworkers who drove me there!

Well then, until next time…  I don’t know what the next post will about yet though.

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18 responses

3 08 2009
punynari

Loved the photos. When I went last, there was hardly any water at all in that river. But, they also weren’t charging so many fees. I was not charged at all to visit the shrine or cross that bridge. O.o

Like the interior pics of these houses. When I went last, I was in a mad rush and couldn’t properly explore because I was so worried about getting back to Yoko in time.

4 08 2009
aaroninjapan09

Aw that’s too bad. It’s really worth taking the time out to spend it there. It’s really a heck of a load of fun too.

3 08 2009
heathorn

It’s awesome!! Want to go there.

3 08 2009
robostrike

Taking pictures from far away makes it look like model houses ^_^ It does resemble background images from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

4 08 2009
Star

The pictures looks great. The houses looked like models more than the real things. The grass was so green and beautiful. It is amazing. I bet it is worth the trip.

4 08 2009
bluemage

Yay! So you finally got around to visiting Hinamizawa — I mean, Shirakawa! ^_^

Yes, that suspension bridge reminds me of the episode when Satoko was going crazy and threatening Keiichi on the bridge…with bad results.

Shirakawa looks like a beautiful place to visit. It’s too bad that they were charging you so many fees to get to places, but I guess that’s to be expected for a heritage tourist site.

4 08 2009
aaroninjapan09

They even get $$ from UNESCO and the Japanese government :(, yet they charged me so much I felt like there was a hole in my pocket and the money was leaking away.

4 08 2009
Matteas

Very nice photos.
Shirakawa is also on my list of places I want to visit when I get to Japan. It’s a must-visit for every Higurashi fan, I think. No matter how much they charge, though it really seems ridiculous to me to charge for almost everything. On the other hand, the villages probably survives only thanks to the tourism, and some donations from UNESCO.

And I have a tip for everyone who is not only Higurashi fan, but also Umineko fan. Or you can say Ryuukishi 07’s fan. The mansion in Umineko is a real place located in Tokyo, near Nishinippori, and it’s called Kyuu Furukawa Teien. And there is one more building in Yokohama, but I forgot which one it was.

4 08 2009
aaroninjapan09

Hmm… that’s an interesting pointer. I might try and give that a shot the next time I head to Tokyo.

4 08 2009
serogane

Cool stuff.

4 08 2009
Yuki Phnx

I think it’s awfully funny that people have to cross a river just to smoke

4 08 2009
aaroninjapan09

:P. I guess it’s better safe than sorry. Sure a cigarette might not set the village on fire, but if it did, there’s no way you can replace this village.

5 08 2009
robostrike

Why don’t you talk about the trip you had with Rin? I think you can put up a few laughs there ^_^

5 08 2009
T.I.P.

That’s a really nice and scenic village. I wouldn’t mind going there and snapping some photos. I think that bridge looks scary enough as it is, but it’d be rather interesting if they went old school and built a rope suspension bridge instead.

16 07 2010
TemproarilyMisplaced

Wow, i would Love to live in that village!
and tell little youngsters that the village is
curse and you will be struck by a curse
once you leave the village etc. etc.
Hah jk! But it seems to be a really pretty place to visit!
Wish i can go there soon.

4 11 2010
Detox Diets ·

Plasma TVs still have much better contrast ratio compared to even the best LCD television “

14 11 2010
Betty Sheldon

Loved the photos, as I saw this village in October but took no pix. Thx.

3 12 2010
Gas Detector

i think that plasma tvs are more expensive than LCD tvs and they are a bit heavier too “-

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