Shirakawa is a village located in Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is best known for being the site of Shirakawa-gō, a small, traditional village showcasing a building style known as gasshō-zukuri.
As of July 2011, the village has an estimated population of 1,734. The total area is 356.55 km2 (137.66 sq mi).
The village is located near Takayama, in Gifu. Together with Gokayama in Nanto, Toyama, it is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
Shirakawa is a mountain village located at the highest peak on Mount Haku in the Ryōhaku Mountains, where it borders Ishikawa prefecture. To the north it borders Mt. Ningyō, and it borders Gokayama in Toyama prefecture. The village's area is 95.7% mountainous forests, and its steep places are characteristic. In between the mountains flows the Shō River, which continues to the north into Nanto in Toyama. Along the river there are a few flat areas, and human settlements are scattered near them.
One of the snowiest places in Japan, 95.7% of Shirakawa is covered by forests. It touches Ishikawa Prefecture to the west and Toyama Prefecture to the north. The border with Ishikawa Prefecture is made by the Ryōhaku Mountains, and the one with Toyama Prefecture is created by Mount Ningyō. The Shō River flows through the village, and most of the population is inhabited in its valley.
Shirakawa is a leading area of heavy snowfall in the world, and due to this climate, gasshō-zukuri homes were created. Gassho-zukuri settlements are registered as cultural heritage sites. With the shape of the Hakusan National Park mountain ranges as a background, these sites are major tourist attractions. Upstream on the Shō river are dam lakes like the Miboro.
Although Shirakawa is in Gifu prefecture, it takes around three hours to get there by bike from Takayama, Gifu, though one can get there in only an hour from Nanto in Toyama. In 1999, an alliance group was formed between Nanto, Toyama (originally several cities in Toyama that now form Nanto) and Shirakawa.