Nearby Takayama, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-Go is famous for beautifully preserved steeply thatched gassho-zukuri houses. The largest village in the area is Ogimachi, which has a good look-out over the town and many of the houses are open to the public as 'living museums'.
Although modern roads now make the traditional area of Shirakawa-go accessible in under an hour from the nearby city of Takayama, for many centuries the surrounding mountains and heavy winter snowfalls made the district nearly unreachable. Cut off from the rest of the country, the villagers at Shirakawa-go continued their traditional lifestyle until very recently, raising silkworms under the steeply thatched roofs of their gassho-zukuri houses amidst rice fields and vegetable patches.
The villages of Gokayama and Ogimachi, the two best preserved in the Shirakwa-go area, still remain much as they once were, and many of the thatched houses have been converted into museums which preserve the rich cultural heritage of the area.
The town is easily explored on foot, and most museums and buildings are open from 9a.m. to 4p.m., though some stay open slightly longer in the afternoon.