Higurashi No Naku Koro, or When They Cry, is a popular horror anime that takes place in a town called Hinamizawa; where its residents suffer a curse that spreads the village every year on a night called, Watanagashi. People mysteriously disappear or found murdered, while others act abnormal from their usual selves.
Originally starting off from a sound novel, the anime adaptation got many positive reviews and became a popular horror anime. If you’re into gore, I’d highly suggest this one on your list!
The story’s setting is based off of a village in Gifu Prefecture called Ogimachi Village in Shirakawa-go - a world heritage site that will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time the moment you set foot. It has become sort of a bittersweet situation that this village has become a tourist attraction. While the village is beautiful and unique, it is still a home to its residents who have had problems with tourists peaking in their homes to see how they lived. Most people who come to this village arrive with intention of getting away from the crowded and cities and becoming peaceful farmers in a small community. But when you have people from all over the world coming in everyday wanting to see your livelihood, I imagine it becomes somewhat of a nuisance at times. However, the village has opened many shops for its tourists which give more finances to the community, so there is some benefit for the residents.
You’ll notice that this village has thick roofs made of thatched straw. These houses are called “Gassho style” which is a unique type of farmhouse. The design of these houses are what truly give this village its culture. The architecture is phenomenal, and the village takes extra care for its roofs. If the straw ever starts weakening, it must be redone in a day. There also comes a time where all the straw on the houses must be replaced; this is accomplished by the help of everyone in the village.
When the anime first aired, the village put up statues of the characters and displayed them all over. Unfortunately I was never there for that, but there are still many hints of Higurashi all over! Even though the anime is horror, the village itself is beautiful. I could easily respect the village and its history on its own outside from it being the base of a popular anime.
The first location we found was Rika’s house. This is the house where Rika...well...does that one really gruesome thing to herself that I won’t spoil. In real life, it’s just some resident’s house; let’s hope nothing happened in there! Next was the school. There’s really only one in the entire village (and even then, I wasn’t too sure if this was even a school), so I assumed this was where it was meant to be. Though the building wasn’t as big or had an extension to it like the anime, I still say this was at the very least the most probable match for the school.
Afterwards, we stopped by the famous Furude Shrine where the festival is held in the anime. Here there also tributes to the anime drawn by fans that have visited this village as well! And sorry guys, didn't find the toolshed that was supposedly behind this thing. Still cool though! On the way back, we accidentally found the locations of scenes that are shown in the opening to Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni: Kai. I have to think my boyfriend for pointing that out, otherwise I would have just walked right past this without remembering it whatsoever. Now if someone could just blast the opening song while I walk across this bridge...
The obvious place we had to check was the Sonozaki household. In the anime, this is where a lot of gruesome scenes happen. The house in the anime showed a downstairs where it leads to a dungeon, but obviously something like that doesn’t exist in real life in this town (hopefully). Instead, this is a museum and an old house named Wada-ke, that belonged to the Wada family; one of the richest families during its time with the biggest farmhouse in Ogimachi. When you go in, it’s like walking straight into the mid-Edo period. Truly breathtaking!
Finally, there is the overall view of the entire village that is also shown in the anime. It’s a breathtaking scenery of this peaceful village that everyone eventually takes time to sink in. It’s not too bad of a walk up the hill, but even then, the view is definitely worth the travel!
So that was the setting of Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, and a peek into a Shirakawa-go. It was like walking back hundreds of years ago to a time when things were much more simpler. Aside from tourists, the people of the village seem at peace and hard working. I encourage you all to visit with an open mind and a respect for its residents.