Shirakawa Village: Balancing landscape Preservation with Use and Resident Lives in Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site
Content submitted by Asia-Pacific Tourism Exchange Center (APTEC) – Asia-Pacific Tourism Exchange Center
Submited Date : 30/10/2023

In 2019, Shirakawa Village was visited by about 2.15 million tourists who came to see its group of traditional houses built in the gassho style (with steep thatched roofs) that are inscribed on the World Heritage list. However, these visits are concentrated in certain districts and time periods and lead to problems in the aspects of traffic congestion, rubbish, and toilet use. At the same time, tourism is not making enough of a contribution to the local economy, because a mechanism has not been constructed for generating revenue from tourist spending.

Furthermore, the village also faced difficulties in areas such as the district’s sustainability, the aging population, and the increasing shortage of labor. In response, in December 2019, it released its “second comprehensive strategy,” which is a master plan for village development that would make Shirakawa a place in which people would want to continue residing as long as they lived. The strategy posts the development of a sustainable village while maintaining or exceeding the current population as its basic goal. On the tourism front as well, the master plan identifies key performance indicators (KPIs) and policies for tourism. In accordance with this strategy, the village is taking approaches to sustainable community-building utilizing tourism, so that the children of the future will be able to protect and pass on the World Heritage site.