Finding The Heart of Japan
Imagine a survey is being conducted to find out the tourist’s choice of must-see major cities during a vacation in Japan, which will be the one? And what tourist attraction will be the most visited place in Japan?
Some of mainstream places might always on the top of tourist’s checklist when they are planning to visit Japan. Number of visiting days becomes the one of the reasons, the longer stays, the more chance to visit other places beside the main cities. But what if, you only have one week to be spent in Japan?
Escaping from city’s bustle, Shirakawa-go was the perfect place to go for me. Japan’s treasure recognized as UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995, provided an unforgettable experience, either from tourism or its history.
I wasn’t trying to not put all the major cities in my checklist. Instead, I even had to change some options to visit worthwhile place at least once. It means that I only have two choices major cities to visit for arrival and departure. Nagoya will be my first city at that moment, and Tokyo becomes the last city for departure from Japan.
Within the Nagoya became my arrival city, means that the next hop will be on the central Japan. With the unusual checklist, I had no doubt whatsoever about my journey, I was five by five to go at that moment. En route from Nagoya, the next cities were Gifu, Gero, Takayama, Toyama, Kurobe, Matsumoto, and then Tokyo.
From those eight cities –with two major cities included, there was a place that I love the most: Shirakawa-go. Located in the foothills of Mount Haku-san and within the Shogawa river valley, that place was famous with their Gassho-zukuri, a styled farmhouse. Gassho-zukuri literally means constructed like hands in prayer.
The gassho houses were jolly large building and consist of three to four levels. What really made me feel glad to have been in Shirakawa-go, lies in where I found the feel of comfortable with my surroundings. There was no single thing frenzied there. When I looked around, everything was green with the occasional yellow colors, just because Japan was entering the fall at that moment.
What I have found in Shirakawa-go was like to find the heart of Japan. The feeling to be there was the same like when I was in Ubud, Bali, serene, idyllic, blissful and peaceful.
The natives in Shirakawa-go weren’t like the Nagoya or Tokyoites. The residents there were very friendly and kind. They greeted the tourists very warmly, and even they were bowing to us, whilst some of them were offering their own produce.
Actually, the best time to visit Shirakawa-go is during the winter. The scenery in this village will be very beautiful because of snow-covered gassho’s thatched roof that could be around two meters thick. With a mix of white of snow and brown from the gassho, it becomes a beautiful composition to be captured.
Shirakawa-go was the best getaway for me, and I'm sure there aren’t many places in Japan are as good as this place –outside the mainstream place, of course. It is more than just worthwhile place to visit at least once, she will always live in the memories.