World's Prettiest Mountain Towns
Traditional houses built in the Gassho-zukuri style—some of them hundreds of years old—have given this collection of villages at the foot of Mt. Haku-san a unique sort of beauty. Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer;” the steeply pitched roofs of the houses here, built to withstand heavy snows, resemble the hands of Buddhists monks pressed together in prayer.
Get some mountain air: If you’re lucky enough to visit in mid-October, partake in the area’s lively Doburoku Matsuri festival, which celebrates the potent, thick unrefined local sake called Doburoku. Otherwise, head north of the center of Ogimachi, Shirakawa-go's largest village, where the Shiroyama Viewpoint offers a spectacular vantage point over the surrounding rooftop and mountains.