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Shirakawa-go is UNESCO World Heritage Site and is best known for their Gassho style houses.


In 1995, the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama were inscribed in the World Heritage as a cultural site in Japan. Located in the mountainous regions of the Gifu and Toyama prefectures resides these villages with Gassho-styled houses. The best examples of these houses are in Ogimachi, Ainokura and Suganuma. Some of the farmhouses that reside in these areas are over 250 years old.

The Gassho architectural design refers to the way a person puts their hands together with the palms facing inward almost like a prayer. The thatched roofs, made without nails, were meant to survive heavy snow fall and provide enough space to work through the winter. The abundant attic space allowed the villagers to cultivate silkworms. These Historic villages of Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama are a representation of a traditional way of life that has adapted to their area.

The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama illustrate the traditional ways of human settlement and how these complex farmhouses attested to time. Even though there were drastic changes from 1950, the area around the Gassho-style farmhouses made no significant change to the structure of roads, canals, and land use. To this day visitors have the opportunity to stay overnight in one of the Gassho styled farmhouses.