Shirakawa (白川村, Shirakawa-mura) is a village located in Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is best known for being the site of Shirakawa-gō, a small, traditional village showcasing a building style known as gasshō-zukuri. Together with Gokayama in Nanto, Toyama, it is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Shirakawa

白川村
Shirakawa Village Hall
Shirakawa Village Hall
Flag of Shirakawa
Flag
Official seal of Shirakawa
Seal
Location of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture
Location of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture
Shirakawa is located in Japan
Shirakawa
Shirakawa
 
Coordinates: 36°16′15.4″N 136°53′54.8″E / 36.270944°N 136.898556°E / 36.270944; 136.898556Coordinates: 36°16′15.4″N 136°53′54.8″E / 36.270944°N 136.898556°E / 36.270944; 136.898556
CountryJapan
RegionChūbu
PrefectureGifu
DistrictŌno
Government
 • MayorShigeru Narihara
Area
 • Total356.64 km2 (137.70 sq mi)
Population
 (January 1, 2019)
 • Total1,630
 • Density4.6/km2 (12/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)
City symbols 
- TreeSiebold's beech
- FlowerRhododendron
Phone number05769-6-1311
Address517 Hatogaya, Shirakawa-mura, Ōno-gun, Gifu-ken501-5692
WebsiteOfficial website (in Japanese)
Gasshō-zukuri - traditionally thatched houses in Shirakawa-go

As of 1 January 2019, the village had an estimated population of 1,630 in 588 households and a population density of 4.6 persons per km2.[1] The total area of the village was 356.55 km2 (137.66 sq mi).

GeographyEdit

Shirakawa is a mountain village located in far northern Gifu Prefecture, bordering Ishikawa Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture on the Ryōhaku Mountains. Mount Hakusan is the highest elevation at 2,172 metres (7,126 ft). The village's area is 95.7% mountainous forests, and its steep places are characteristic. In between the mountains flows the Shō River, which continues to the north into Nanto, Toyama. Most of the population is in its river valley. Since the opening of Hida Tunnel, Shirakawa can be reached within 50 minutes from Takayama, Gifu compared to the earlier three hour drive, and only an hour to Nanto in Toyama.

Neighbouring municipalitiesEdit

ClimateEdit

Shirakawa Village has a humid continental climate (Koppen Dfa). It features four distinct seasons with winter being its most recognised. Shirakawa is noted as one of the snowiest places in Japan. Yearly average snowfall amounts average out in excess of 10 meters (415.4") with snowbanks developing well over 2 meters tall. As a consequence of the frequent heavy snow, characteristically thick thatched roofed gasshō-zukuri (合掌造り) houses were created. With the Hakusan National Park mountain ranges as a background, these sites are major tourist attractions.

Climate data for Shirakawa, Japan (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.9
(37.2)
3.5
(38.3)
7.8
(46.0)
15.6
(60.1)
21.4
(70.5)
24.7
(76.5)
27.9
(82.2)
29.6
(85.3)
24.8
(76.6)
18.9
(66.0)
12.7
(54.9)
6.0
(42.8)
16.3
(61.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.1
(30.0)
−0.9
(30.4)
2.2
(36.0)
8.8
(47.8)
14.6
(58.3)
18.7
(65.7)
22.4
(72.3)
23.5
(74.3)
19.1
(66.4)
12.7
(54.9)
6.8
(44.2)
1.6
(34.9)
10.7
(51.3)
Average low °C (°F) −4.7
(23.5)
−5.2
(22.6)
−2.5
(27.5)
2.7
(36.9)
8.3
(46.9)
13.8
(56.8)
18.1
(64.6)
19.0
(66.2)
15.0
(59.0)
8.2
(46.8)
2.3
(36.1)
−2.0
(28.4)
6.1
(43.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 275.1
(10.83)
213.3
(8.40)
195.0
(7.68)
143.1
(5.63)
139.9
(5.51)
203.5
(8.01)
280.4
(11.04)
165.1
(6.50)
223.1
(8.78)
148.3
(5.84)
200.5
(7.89)
249.8
(9.83)
2,437.1
(95.94)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 356
(140)
271
(107)
162
(64)
23
(9.1)
1
(0.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
23
(9.1)
212
(83)
1,055
(415)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 54.7 76.2 116.0 163.3 177.8 145.6 148.3 171.6 118.0 112.9 83.4 61.6 1,426.7
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency[2]

DemographicsEdit

Per Japanese census data,[3] the population of Shirakawa has decreased over the past 40 years.

Census Year Population
1970 2,525
1980 2,132
1990 1,892
2000 2,151
2010 1,733

HistoryEdit

The area around Shirakawa was part of traditional Hida Province. During the post-Meiji restoration cadastral reforms, the area was organised into Ōno District, Gifu. The village of Shirakawa was formed on July 1, 1897 with the establishment of the modern municipalities system.

EconomyEdit

The local economy is dominated strongly by seasonal tourism. Due to the income from the tourists who came to see the gassho-zukuri villages, the financial condition of the village has been greatly improved, and tourist traffic increased further once the village became a UNESCO site. However, the increasing number of visitors has resulted in damage to the area from pollution, and by local inhabitants their homes into hostels, gift shops and parking lots, which in turn has endangered its World Heritage status. There is also a fear growing that the change to catering to tourists will harm the charm of the area's simplicity and fundamental Japanese scenery.

EducationEdit

Shirakawa has one combined public elementary/junior high school operated by the village government. The town village does not have a high school.

TransportationEdit

RailwayEdit

  • Shirakawa village does not have any passenger railway service.

HighwayEdit

Sister city relationsEdit

Local attractionsEdit

  • The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites
    • Wadake Home—the largest gasshō-zukuri in the area
  • Shirakawa-gō Hirase Onsen (designated as a "national recuperation onsen")
  • Miboro dam, Lake Miboro
  • Hida Tunnel
  • Hakusan Rindō (hiking path)
  • Amau Pass (天生峠, Amau tōge), famous for its fall colors; 30 minutes away by foot is the Kōsō wetlands, also famous
  • Shirakawa Hachiman Shrine, where every October 14–15, the Doburoku Festival, famous for its Nigorizake, is held

GalleryEdit

In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Shirakawa village official statistics(in Japanese)
  2. ^ "過去の気象データ検索". Japan Meteorological Agency.
  3. ^ Shirakawa population statistics

External linksEdit