Before we knew we would have the time to go to the Western side of Japan to see thatch-roof houses and farmland where they originally were in Japan, we had planned to go see a variety of houses from all over Japan at Nihon Minka-En (more info). But even after we made it out to see the “real thing” I still wanted to see what this museum was like, so some friends and I went and spent a rather hot day walking around and looking at the houses.
While it didn’t have the same peaceful feel as Shirakawa-Go or the farmland and countryside surrounding it, Nihon Minka-En had much more variety and about the same amount of information on the houses. It was still a pretty place, set in a larger park, but the atmosphere was so different. I would recommend it as a way to see more of traditional Japanese culture and architecture closer to Tokyo, but would say that if time allowed the Takayama area was much better for people wanting to see thatch roof houses specifically.
If you’re looking for a mix of houses, like those in Shirakawa-Go and those in Kawagoe and other older towns, Nihon Minka-En is highly recommended.