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Shirakawa-go Responsible Tourism A style of traveling that respects the local lifestyles of the people.

Protecting and preserving the unique and beautiful village on our planet.

How has a beautiful village that has harmony between nature, people and life been preserved in such a deep mountainous area? Shirakawa-go is a World Heritage village where inhabitants preserve and protect their heritage. The reason for this one-of-a-kind beautiful place in the world is the villagers understand the value of the original Japanese Gassho-style houses, and have carefully preserved them for future generations. Please share this unique experience of our beautiful landscape with others so it will be enjoyed forever more.
Doing your part with the villagers will ensure you an unforgettable experiences and memories.。
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What is the idea of Responsible Tourism in Shirakawa-go?

Efforts to promote responsible tourism are now accelerating in many countries around the world. Responsible tourism is a new style of tourism that reduces the environmental, cultural and social impact on tourist destinations. All of us living in Shirakawa-go cherish the harmony between nature, daily life and tourism.
We would like Responsible Traveler to join us in creating a circle of greater harmony.
Be a Responsible Traveler, one who practices Responsible Tourism.
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The Art of Responsible Tourism Five Etiquette Tips for Responsible Travelers visiting Shirakawa-go

Help preserve the local way of life when you travel.

Nearly 500 residents live and maintain the Gassho-style village. We are not a theme park or a reenactment. We have over 250 years linage living in traditional ways here and it is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the uniqueness and beauty that has drawn many people from around the world here. With tireless effort from the community, this piece of heaven exists. An invaluable and unreplaceable gift from our ancestors. We place a high value on the traditional way of life and tourism. Responsibility and mutual cooperation are essential to live in Shirakawa-go, where the balance between daily life and tourism is a high priority. When you step into the village, you become a member of the community and a “Responsible Traveler”, please help us by being aware of your responsibilities and give us your cooperation. We kindly request that you follow the etiquette of our traditional way of life in the village. Enjoying our traditional ways will enhance your travel experience and make your memories precious. By traveling to Shirakawa-go you can intimately experience our legacy and live our values. Here are five etiquette pro tips that we would like all travelers to help us with.
  • 1. Designated parking lot There is no parking lot in the Gassho-style Village. Please minimize the impact of cars on the traditional landscape of our village. Sorry, our forefathers did not design the village with cars in mind. There are no parking lots for tourists in the village. Tourist vehicles are kindly requested not to enter the UNESCO World Heritage area. If you are arriving by car, please park in the designated parking lot on the opposite bank of the Shogawa River from the Gassho-style Village. Exploring by foot is highly recommended. Cross the Deai Bridge, a pedestrian only suspension bridge with beautiful views, and the next thing you know you’ll be in the World Heritage village. Exploring the village, the sounds of the streams flowing everywhere, the majestic green mountains and the charm of the Gassho-style houses and village will excite your 5 senses. Explore Shirakawa-go at your own pace and feel yourself become a local in our village The primary car parking lot “Seseragi Parking” is across the river from the World Heritage Area. Cross the Deai pedestrian suspension bridge, and you can enter the World Heritage Area from there. せSeseragi Parking is open every day from 8am to 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm). Standard Car (188 cars): 1,000JPY, Tour Bus (38 buses): 3,000JPY *30% of parking revenues are used for preservation activities in the World Heritage Area.
  • 2. Fire is strictly prohibited Preventing the destruction of our village from fire. To ensure this valuable heritage will be preserved for future generations, all travelers are asked to refrain from smoking, littering cigarettes butts and also using fireworks. If you must smoke (paper or electronic cigarettes), you are requested to use only them in the designated smoking areas. There are three smoking areas in the village. The thatched roofs of the Gassho-style houses are extremely flammable. Once a fire breaks out, it can spread throughout the entire World Heritage village and destroy the traditional houses that we work diligently to protect. Residents regularly participate in fire prevention activities in the village. The village community patrols for fire 365 days a year. Each household manages one of our 60 water spray systems (water guns). The water supply facility in the mountain is constantly monitored. We are all working together to protect the village.
  • 3. Pack your rubbish out with you please There are no rubbish bins in the village. Shirakawa-go is a very small village with about 1,500 residents and we don’t even have our own rubbish processing capabilities. Since we contract this service with a city 50km away, it is necessary to ask our 2.15 million tourist visitors to help with our preservation. We ask you to help us keep the village clean and pack it out. Do your part, please make sure rubbish is not thrown away in the streets, rice fields or at the houses, please take it with you. Due to our landscape and disposal capacity, we apologize that there are no rubbish bins installed in the Gassho-style village. We gladly handle rubbish created from the shops at the village and this can be returned to the shops in the village. So, everything you bring into the village, please take it away with you.
  • 4. Night sightseeing is not available Special time for overnight guests. We are not open to tourists at night in order to protect the residents' lives and privacy. Although our village is a World Heritage Site, we are living in the Gassho-style houses. Here, families spend the night at home and go to school, work, farm etc. in the morning. The designated car parking lot is open from 8am to 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm), because the area has a dual purpose as a tourist destination during the day and residential area during the night. However, only overnight guests with village accommodations are able to enjoy the wonderful starry sky and dreamy early morning scenery. Take the time to enjoy the special time in the peaceful and tranquil village, which is different from the daytime.
  • 5. The Village Prohibits All Drones Please enjoy the view from the observatory. Come to the Observatory overlook and get an overview of the Village. It is better than a drone shot because you can take a selfie there with the village in the background. As we mentioned before this is a living village and not a reenactment. The village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We must be cautious to prevent disturbance to the residence and the village itself. Therefore, drones are prohibited in the village in order to protect the privacy of the residents and the Gassho-style houses as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many World Heritage Sites now prohibit the use of drones on their territory. We ask your help in preventing trouble with the drones which might cause unrecoverable damage to the World Heritage Site. Please enjoy the breath-taking view over the Gassho-style villages from the observatory. A shuttle bus (200 JPY one way) can transport you to the observatory, or you can walk there.
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Our inheritance for the future

The spirit of Yui cooperation

The spirit of Shirakawa Villagers helping each other to live together this system is called "Yui" An example of Yui is when we do roof work. All owners get together to replace someone’s Gassho-style House Roof. We all help and share in the division of work to replace the roof. This is an example of Yui the social sustainability of Shirakawa-go. The oldest existing record of the Yui roofing is from 1792. The 'Yui' roofing continues to adapt to the changes in modern society. For many generations, the practice Yui in roofing has continued with the involvement of a diverse range of age and gender villagers. The sight of over 100 villagers climbing the large thatched roofs of a Gassho-style house is an amazing sight and moves many people today. In village life, a culture of cooperative work rooted in the spirit of 'Yui' continues in many areas such as maintaining local ditches, daily fire patrols, path mowing on local mountain trails, and the organization of local festivals.

Three guidelines for the conservation of Gassyo-style houses

The Gassho-style house are places people still live today and vigilantly maintained.
Shirakawa-mura Ogimachi Natural Environment Preservation Society During the period of high-economic growth (circa 1955-1973), the construction of dams and modernization of lifestyles led to an increasing number of residents abandoning their Gassho-style houses. In 1971, local residents established the “Shirakawa-mura Ogimachi Natural Environment Preservation Society” with all Ogimachi residents as members. They also established the Residents' Guidelines for Protecting the Natural Environment of Shirakawa-go World Heritage, based on the three principles of preservation: prohibited the sale, renting, and demolishing of Gassho-Style houses, which were declared a valuable historic and tourism resource. The Preservation Society plays a leading role in landscape conservation activities in the village, including the preservation of Gassho-style houses, the passing on of skills, and the guidance and planning of the landscape. The advanced feature of the Residents' Guidelines, established half a century ago, which clearly states that cultural resources are to be used as tourism resources and to promote the area, not only for the protection of disappearing cultural resources, but also for the way of life of about 500 residents living in the World Heritage area.
Manga Guide to Shirakawa-go Manners.
We created a manga about the lives of the locals in Shirakawa Village, for Responsible Travelers to learn about us.
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