Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

800px-ogimachi_village-02
Ogimachi Village, Shirakawa-go (Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0).
 Japan
Gifu and Toyama prefectures
N36 23 60 E136 52 60
Date of Inscription: 1995
Criteria: (iv)(v)
Property : 68 ha
Buffer zone: 58,873.1 ha
Ref: 734
800px-gokayama2c_world_heritage_site_e28093_japan_28412360869629
Gokayama (William Cho/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0).

The Gassho-style houses found in the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are rare examples of their kind in Japan. Located in a river valley surrounded by the rugged high-mountain Chubu region of central Japan, these three villages were remote and isolated, and access to the area was difficult for a long period of time. The inscribed property comprises the villages of “Ogimachi” in the Shirakawa-go region, and “Ainokura” and “Suganuma” in the Gokayama region, all situated along the Sho River in Gifu and Toyama Prefectures. In response to the geographical and social background, a specific housing type evolved: rare examples of Gassho-style houses, a unique farmhouse style that makes use of highly rational structural systems evolved to adapt to the natural environment and site-specific social and economic circumstances in particular the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses have steeply-pitched thatched roofs and have been preserved in groups, many with their original outbuildings which permit the associated landscapes to remain intact.

Criterion (iv): The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are outstanding examples of traditional human settlements that are perfectly adapted to their environment and their social and economic raison d’être.

Criterion (v): It is of considerable significance that the social structure of these villages, of which their layouts are the material manifestation, has survived despite the drastic economic changes in Japan since 1950. As a result they preserve both the spiritual and the material evidence of their long history.

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CATEGORY:     JAPAN

TAG:     JP – HISTORIC VILLAGES OF SHIRAKAWA-GO AND GOKAYAMA

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5 Replies to “Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama”

  1. If you are from Kanazawa, head out early in the morning for a 1 hour bus ride to Shirakawa-go. There are a number of departures from daily but if you want to maximize your time in the village, you might want to take the earliest bus. I spent roughly 5 hours in Shirakawa-go before I took a connecting bus to my next destination: Takayama.

    As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirakawa-go does not really have a particular must-see attraction. The attraction is the village itself, replete with thatched roof houses built without using a single nail.

    Where to eat in Shirakawa-go: Irori is my restaurant of choice. Located a few steps away from the bus station, you can feast in delicious Hoba Miso which is a specialty within the Gifu Prefecture.

    You can choose to stay overnight in one of those thatched roof houses or take the bus later in the day to your next destination, Takayama.

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  2. I went to Shirokawa-go and stayed a night in one of those houses before. its a very beautiful place. in winter time, the village will have very heavy snow fall thats why the roofs are built with big slope to avoid snow accumulation on top of roofs cause it will collapse the houses.

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  3. The roofs in particular help residents deal with the region’s harsh weather. If the roof is steep, the snow will fall off easily. Beyond winter, these roofs offered plenty of work space for silk cultivation. At one time silk cultivation was the main industry in our village. Creating a large space also helped house a large number of families together for the industry’s labor force. Thus, this architecture mirrors the culture of our village.

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