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Annual light-up event at central Japan's World Heritage Shirakawa-go settlement begins

Traditional "gassho"-style houses in a UNESCO World Heritage settlement are seen lit up in Shirakawa, Gifu Prefecture, on Jan. 15, 2023. (Mainichi/Koji Hyodo)

SHIRAKAWA, Gifu -- The UNESCO World Heritage settlement of traditional "gassho"-style houses with steeply angled thatched roofs here began its annual light-up event on Jan. 15.

    The Shirakawa-go settlement's winter illumination began just before 5:30 p.m. amid fog. About 30 illuminated houses, including the Wada House, a government-designated important cultural property, emerged from the darkness to the delight of visitors.

    This year, the event's 37th, there was relatively little snow, with about 30 centimeters on the ground that day. To ease traffic congestion and ensure safety, visitors other than those staying in the village are required to make parking reservations in advance. The lights are scheduled to be on every Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. until Feb. 19. However, this may be shortened depending on the coronavirus situation and weather conditions.

    Due to the pandemic, the event was canceled in 2021, and it was only held for one day in 2022. For inquiries, call the Shirakawa-go light-up committee at 05769-6-1013 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Koji Hyodo, Nagoya Photo Group)

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