Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The site is located in the Shogawa river valley stretching across the border of Gifu and Toyama Prefectures in central Japan. Shirakawa-gō (白川郷, “White River Old-District”) is located in the village of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture. The Gokayama (五箇山, “Five Mountains”) area is divided between the former villages of Kamitaira and Taira in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture.

These villages are well known for their houses constructed in the architectural style known as gasshō-zukuri (合掌造り). The Gasshō-zukuri, “prayer-hands construction” style is characterized by a thatched and steeply slanting roof resembling two hands joined in prayer. The design is exceptionally strong and, in combination with the unique properties of the thatching, allow the houses to withstand and shed the weight of the region’s heavy snowfalls in winter.

Shirakawa-gō in early autumn
The houses are large, with three to four storeys encompassed between the low eaves, and historically intended to house large extended families and a highly efficient space for a variety of industries. The densely forested mountains of the region still occupy 96% of all land in the area, and prior to the introduction of heavy earth-moving machinery, the narrow bands of flat lands running the length of the river valley limited the area available for agriculture and homestead development. The upper storeys of the gasshō houses were usually set aside for sericulture, while the areas below the first (ground) floor were often used for the production of nitre, one of the raw materials needed for the production of gunpowder.

Outline
The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Recommended world heritage video

  1. Yakushima

    Yakushima

  2. Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

    Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

  3. Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

    Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

  1. The Great Wall

    The Great Wall

  2. The Perisian Garden

    The Perisian Garden

  3. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

    Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

  1. Longmen Grottoes

    Longmen Grottoes

  2. Lorentz National Park

    Lorentz National Park

  3. Wadi Rum Protected Area

    Wadi Rum Protected Area

  1. Historic Centre of Bukhara

    Historic Centre of Bukhara

  2. Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz

    Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz

  3. Ancient City of Ping Yao

    Ancient City of Ping Yao

  1. My Son Sanctuary

    My Son Sanctuary

  2. Agra Fort

    Agra Fort

  3. Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration

    Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration

  1. Chitwan National Park

    Chitwan National Park

  2. Takht-e Soleyman

    Takht-e Soleyman

  3. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

    Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

  1. Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

    Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

  2. Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

    Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

  3. Samarra Archaeological City

    Samarra Archaeological City

  1. Borobudur Temple Compounds

    Borobudur Temple Compounds

  2. Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

    Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

  3. Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

    Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

  1. Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai

    Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai

  2. Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

    Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

  3. Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

    Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

  1. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

    Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

  2. Rohtas Fort

    Rohtas Fort

  3. Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

    Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

  1. Itchan Kala

    Itchan Kala

  2. Goa

    Goa

  3. Yakushima

    Yakushima

  1. Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area

    Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area

  2. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

    Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

  3. Gonbad-e Qābus

    Gonbad-e Qābus

  1. Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites

    Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites

  2. Leshan Giant Buddha

    Leshan Giant Buddha

  3. Masada

    Masada

facebook comments
Comment
To the Top