Located in the Japanese Alps, the once-isolated, rural mountain villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama both sport a unique style of Japanese vernacular architecture known as Gasshō-zukuri -- distinct for their thatched, steeply slanting roofs resembling two hands in prayer.

Many towns, villages and neighborhoods around the world have unusual and interesting structures. Here are from Colombia to Japan.

Dining around the Irori Hearth at Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Dining around the Irori Hearth at Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Shirakawa-go Ancient Japan Tour

Shirakawa-go Ancient Japan Tour

Irori Hearth at Nodaniya Ryokan in Shirakawa-go, Japan

Irori Hearth at Nodaniya Ryokan in Shirakawa-go, Japan

Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Shirakawago-Shimizu in Shirakawa-go Japan (Courtesy of TD, Madison, USA)

Shirakawago-Shimizu in Shirakawa-go Japan (Courtesy of TD, Madison, USA)

Kanja, Gassho-zukuri Japanese Farmhouse accommodations in Shirakawa-go http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/db/shirakawago/kanja.htm

Stay overnight in one of the heritage houses, eat locally grown food: sounds fun!

Pond near Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Pond near Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Guest Room at Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Guest Room at Nodaniya Ryokan Inn at Shirakawa-go, Japan

Samurai Armor at Shirakawa-go No Yu Ryokan

Samurai Armor at Shirakawa-go No Yu Ryokan

Kanja, Gassho-zukuri Japanese Farmhouse accommodations in Shirakawa-go

Kanja, Gassho-zukuri Japanese Farmhouse accommodations in Shirakawa-go

Dinner at Shirakawago-Shimizu in Shirakawa-go, Japan (Courtesy of TD, Madison, USA)

Dinner at Shirakawago-Shimizu in Shirakawa-go, Japan (Courtesy of TD, Madison, USA)

Shirakawago Hisamatsu Minshuku - May 2011

A lovely stay in Shirakawago, Japan. Accommodations were at the Hisamatsu Minshuku (family guest house). Very enjoyable traditional Japanese home.

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