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World Heritage / Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Criteria: (iv) (v) | Date of Inscription: 1995 | Location: Gifu and Toyama Prefectures | Justification for Inscription


Things to see

Mt. Miyanouradake is 1936m above sea level and the area in which this mountain is located extends to Yaku-cho and Kamiyaku-cho. It is an area inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Ogimachi village is the biggest of the three main villages with fifty nine gassho-zukuri houses. On rotation, villagers help neighbors to re-thatch those roofs in need of repair early each spring.
Interestingly, all of the houses are built either north or south facing. Windspeeds of 20 meters per second and higher blow through the village from winter to spring so in order to reduce the direct wind pressure on the houses the angled roof, facing east and west, also acts to fend off these seasonal winds and the subsequent house positioning can thus help in adjusting the amount of sunlight received making the building cool in summer and warm in winter.
In winter, when the snowfall can reach up to 4m, the snow on the roof slides down. It is believed this happens because the east and west facing surfaces of the roof encourage the melting of the snow.
Twenty gassho-zukuri houses, the traditional buildings of the village's temple, shrine, storehouses and more as well as a forest left in place to prevent snow slides, a shrine grove, the stone walled fields, canals and ancient roads are all designated as Sites of Historical Value.

Suganuma is a small village located approximately 25km downstream of Ogimachi. Nine gassho-zukuri houses, traditional storehouse buildings and a shrine grove are designated as Sites of Historical Value.
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