“Gokayama” (Historic Village), a village with thatched roofs in the mountains of Toyama Prefecture. Together, the “Ainokura” and “Suganuma” villages are called “Gokayama Gassho-zukuri Style” (a house built of wooden beams combined to form a steep thatched roof that resembles two hands together). A unique culture has developed in Gokayama to withstand harsh nature under the severe living environment of one of Japan’s heavy snowfall areas surrounded by mountains. Gokayama, which is lined with houses with thatched roofs called “gassho-zukuri”, conveys the traditional culture and lifestyle that have been handed down here since the Edo period. Introducing the charm of Gokayama, which retains the image of the good old Japanese “satoyama” (village-vicinity mountain).
It is said that the reason why the angle of the roof is steep is to reduce the effort of snow removal as much as possible and to solve the drainage problem due to the rainy area. In the gassho-zukuri-style houses, sericulture was carried out in a so-called “attic” area. Gokayama is full of highlights, with Gassho-zukuri villages and museums in the background of beautiful natural scenery.
The Iwase House is a house built over eight years in the late Edo period, protected by Kaga feudal clan for making powder, which is the raw material for gunpowder. The five-story dignified appearance is one of the largest among the existing gassho-zukuri-style houses. The dignified appearance and the luxurious interior are designated as important cultural assets of the country as valuable materials that convey the life of Gokayama in the past.
Suganuma village, a scenic spot representing Gokayama. It has been designated as a World Heritage Site, a National Historic Site, and a National Preservation Area for Important Traditional Buildings. Nine gassho-zukuri-style houses exist in a small village with a satoyama atmosphere in the mountains.
In the Suganuma village, there is an original Japanese landscape with a nostalgic atmosphere. The gassho-zukuri-style house made with a steep sloped roof is devised to withstand the harsh environment of a heavy snowfall area surrounded by mountains.
Take a stroll through the Suganuma village, which has a magical charm that will soothe the hearts of visitors. The gassho-zukuri-style house, paddy field, avenue, and the mountains surrounding the village have been united, and you can feel as if you were lost in the world of Japanese folktales.
The Murakami family house, which has become an important cultural property designated by the country, is a gassho-zukuri-style house built about 400 years ago. There is a hearth in the gassho-zukuri-style house in Gokayama. In addition to being a means of warming in severe cold, it plays the role of increasing the strength of the roof by smoked with smoke. In addition, the hearth with an extension pot-hook that can freely adjust the height of the pot is unique to Gokayama.
There are 23 gassho-zukuri-style houses in the Aikura village. The scenery of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the village, the gassho-zukuri-style houses, and the paddy fields created on gentle slopes is like a painting.
Within the Aikura village, the scenery of the Japanese satoyama envisioned by Japanese people is spreading as it is. The clear blue sky, the blossoming soba flower field, and the gassho-zukuri-style houses tell us the original Japanese landscape of the good old days.
Gokayama offers beautiful scenery every season, but the beauty of winter is exceptional. The village of gassho-zukuri-style nestled in the mountainous area, which has become a silver world, is sure to attract visitors.
Light up is performed in Gokayama in winter covered completely with snow. The appearance of the gassho-zukuri-style houses lit up in a jet-black dark night is fantastic, creating a mysterious atmosphere.
There are many other attractive places in Gokayama other than the spots introduced. The village of gassho-zukuri-style that nestles quietly in the mountains shows us that it has not changed for hundreds of years. Visit Gokayama, a wonderful world heritage site where the original landscape of satoyama in Japan spreads out, and enjoy the lives of people who lived in a harsh natural environment closed by mountains and snow.
“Gokayama” (Historic Village), which was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Shirakawago in Gifu Prefecture in 1995, is a heavy snowy area surrounded by rugged mountains and with snowfall as much as 2 meters in winter. Here are two Gassho-zukuri settlements “Ainokura” and “Suganuma”. Gokayama is in Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture, and Shirakawago is in Ohno-gun, Shirakawa Village, Gifu Prefecture. It is in the same Shogawa River basin, but Gokayama is in the cultural area of the Ecchu-Toyama area, Shirakawa-go is in the Hida-Takayama area. Gokayama is smaller than the Shirakawago in terms of its name recognition and size. However, compared to Shirakawago, which has been developed as a tourist attraction to which many tourists visit, you can see the rustic mountain village’s original scenery in Gokayama.
In Gokayama, there are 23 houses of Gassho-zukuri, and the fields, stone walls, “snow protection forest” are retained as they are. In the village, in addition to souvenir shops, inns, Ainokura Folklore and Ainokura traditional industrial palace, you can see the living situation of the villagers and the history of the Japanese paper industry.
In the Suganuma village, there are nine houses of Gassho-zukuri style, historical buildings such as “Dozo” (rice storage) and “Itakura” (warehouse) are preserved. Although it is small scale, the raw landscape of heartwarming “Satoyama” (outskirt of country) is preserved as it is.
“Gassho-zukuri” style is an architectural style full of wisdom peculiar to heavy snow areas. In Gokayama area where the humidity is high and heavy snow falls, it is characterized by steep roofs that are easier to drop snow than other areas and many houses of “Tsuma-iri” (entrance on gable side). Some old buildings were constructed 400 years ago. Thatched roof re-roofing requires special skills, great effort, and enormous expense. Efforts to maintain the building while doing that re-roofing once in 15 to 20 years led to the selection of the World Heritage.
It still keep old days and not to change the figure of “the living”, a “Gassho-zukuri” village of the world heritage site, “Gokayama”. “Original scenery of Japan” spreads in two villages of “Gokayama” among the village-vicinity mountain where you feel nostalgic and rustic.
Gokayama, which is located along Shogawa at the west end of the south of Toyama, is the area that is full of nature. There are a row of the building of Gassho-zukuri, quiet mountain scenery, and being dotted with small mountain villages.
Among them, Ainokura village and Suganuma village were designated “a world heritage” in 1995 with Shirakawa-gou village. it was granted the highest rank of three stars of “Michelin Green Guide Japon” in 2009. Many tourist come this cultural heritage which represent Japan.
Gassho-zukuri of “Suganuma village” and “Ainokura village” is built in the unique style of architecture typical of heavy snowfall area with a solid feeling.
Even when the same term of “Gassho-zukuri” was used, the slant of a roof varies. Because the snow of Gokayama include a lot of moisture and is heavy, it becomes the high-pitched roof so that snow is easy to slide down below.
There is the experience-based menu like making handmade washi (traditional Japanese paper) in the buildings of Gassho-zukuri as knowing the traditional culture of this area.
|Name:||Gokayama (Historic Village)|
|Adresse:||Ainokura Gassho-zukuri Village|
Ainokura Nanto, Toyama 939-1915 Japan
Suganuma Gassho-zukuri Village
Suganuma 436 Nanto, Toyama 939-1973 Japan
|Access:||Ainokura Gassho-zukuri Village|
JR Johana-sen Line “Johana-eki Station” (25 minutes by bus)
Suganuma Gassho-zukuri Village
JR Johana-sen Line “Johana-eki Station” (45 minutes by bus)
|Tel:||(+81) 763-66-2468 (Gokayama Tourist Information Center)|