Main road in Shirakawago

"Shirakawago" magnificent Japanese landscape

Shirakawago and Gokayama, where the original scenery of Japan is preserved, change the look of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, and welcome travelers. Shirakawa-go and Gokayama from May to June completely separate from the long and severe winter, and bloom with greenery and flowers at once. The early summer of Shirakawa-go, which visited early in the morning, was bright green in the blue sky, clear in the air, and clearly visible Hakusan mountains in the remaining snow.

There are many rice fields filled with water, and they project Gassho-zukuri (a house with a steep rafter roof) and Hakusan mountains on the water surface. Among the many greenery, the bluish purple flowers that bloomed on the rice field ridges and the irises that were outstanding in particular were the slight accents of the Gassho village.

It is called Gassho-zukuri because the shape of the roof is in the shape of putting both hands together. Gassho-zukuri is built with houses facing north and south. This considers the direction of the wind, and in particular minimizes the resistance of the wind to the Shirakawa, and adjusts the amount of sunlight that hits the roof. It seems to be cool in summer and keep warm in winter.

In the village located in the mountains, it was necessary to utilize the attic of the dwelling to secure the farmland even a little. In the attic of the house, washi paper making, Gunpowder making, and sericulture were carried out as house industry, and the house became larger as needed since the Meiji era.

Oginuma village in Shirakawa is about 1,500 meters wide in the north-south direction and 350 meters long in the east-west direction, accounting for 45.6 hectares, more than 60% of the World Heritage Area. The Edo period master house "Wada family house", which is designated as an important cultural property of the country, is located in Oginuma village.

As I climbed the hills in the back of the village and looked at the whole picture of Shirakawa-go from the top of the hill, I was impressed by the magnificent Japanese landscape. It is a superb view point I want to visit every season.

"Aikura village", the culture of Thatched-roofed houses protected by all villagers

Next, I visited the Aikura Village, which is about 500 meters north to south, about 200 to 300 meters east to west, and 20 villages with built-in houses. The world heritage registration range of Aikura village is 18 hectares. Shirakawago's gassho-zukuri farmhouses have an entrance on the long side of the building, while Gokayama's gassho-zukuri farmhouses seems to have an entrance on the short side of the building.

In addition to the 20 gassho-zukuri farmhouses, traditional buildings such as temples, shrines, soil warehouses, itakuras and snow forests, shrine plexus, upland house stone walls, waterways, old roads, etc. have been identified as things to be preserved.

When I visited Aikura village, a villager was carrying out a replacement of that that roof. The resurfacing of the roof, which is carried out by the villagers, is carried out with the spirit of mutual assistance called "Yui", and is regarded as a valuable culture that should be protected and communicated to the future along with the buildings.

"Suganuma gasshozukuri village", Upside down Gasshozukuri ticking the eternal time

Finally I visited Suganuma Gasshozukuri in Gokayama, Toyama Prefecture. Suganuma village is one of the three world heritage sites of Gasshozukuri village (Shirakawa, Suganuma, Aikura), and is the smallest village of 4.4 hectares. The Gasshozukuri farmerhouses that exist in this village are only nine buildings, and compared to the 60 buildings in Shirakawa-go and the 20 buildings in Aigura, it is a very simple mountain village landscape.

 It is a village located on a slight riverside terrace in the valley, surrounded by a human-free, natural-rich and quiet environment where the sacred grove of the village shrine is preserved, and unlike Shirakawago, human waves are It's gone quietly, and it's marking a time of unique eternity. The “Upside down palm” was impressive, surrounded by greenery, in which the confusing structure appears upside down in a flooded rice field.

Not only from Japan but also from travelers from around the world visit the peaceful scenery of the Japanese Gassho settlement. Daily life lives in there, and the traveler will feel somewhere nostalgic in that life itself. 

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