Ogimachi, Shirakawa-Go

9 years ago by in Travel

This region is famous for it’s beautiful old Gasshou-Zukuri houses ("hands in a buddist prayer", they look alike, don’t they). The house can have up to 5 floors and all the floors are covered with the thick rice straw roof. The roof is flexible and moves with the wind but at the same time is very strong and stable.
Some houses are museums now, some are ryokans and you can have a stay there. Despite the fact that Gasshou-Zukuri are in UNESCO list, all the houses are maintained only by the owners, there are no dedicated foundations nor state sponsorship.
When in 2003 Nagase-Ke needed help in changing the roof, there were about 450 volunteers that came from different cities of Japan to help. They managed in one single day.
You can get there by bus from Takayama or Kanazawa. I traveled between and made a stop at Ogimachi. Neighboring region with similar houses is Gokayama can be reached by bus from Ogimachi. The villages there are smaller and with less modern houses.

The buildings are placed the way they follow the direction of wind

The thickness of the roof is up to one meter

These huge needles are needed to pierce the roof through during the renovations

Not a single nail is used, only straw ropes – this is what gives the roof its flexibility

They seem to have been quite rich, those people

You can get a cup of locally produced sake at the shrine. Tastes like rice porridge based on vodka *_____*