Mountain village scenery from the old days of Japan, a World Heritage gassho-zukuri village
Gokayama is a village which has charming houses built in the gassho-zukuri style in which the thatched roofs resemble the shape of steepled hands. Along with the highlights of the hamlets of Ainokura and Suganuma which were registered as World Heritage sites, there are many other sights to see in Gokayama such as the nationally-designated Important Cultural Properties of Murakami House, Iwase House, Hakusangu built in 1502 which is the oldest structure in Toyama Prefecture, and Rukei-goya Hut which was used between the 17th and 19th centuries and restored in 1965. Compared to the one other World Heritage gassho-zukuri village of Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, the hamlets are rather small in scale but they have gained in popularity due to the even quieter and simpler atmosphere enjoyed there. Touring through Gokayama by rental car is convenient, but there is a World Heritage bus that comes and goes from JR Takaoka Station which is used by many tourists.
A hit with tourists! A Japan experience only found at Gokayama
Another charming thing about Gokayama is the ability to experience the old Japan through the local traditional culture. One such experience is making handmade washi paper. You can try making washi paper at the Roadside Station Taira – Washi Village where the ingredients of the paper flow into a sink and traditional craftsmanship is applied to create a uniform paper as the water is filtered out. Also, the facility displays things such as information on the history of the paper, products and the manufacturing process. Another traditional cultural experience that Gokayama is proud of showing is minyo (folk singing). Known since ancient times as a treasure house for minyo, the genre born from oral legends has been sung over the generations. Along with the periodic performances at Pocket Park Mugiya-bushi Village (May to early November on Sundays), you can even get a chance to listen to wonderful minyo sung by the owner of Murakami House himself after a tour of the facility. Also, there are day-trip onsen such as Kuroba Onsen and Gokayama-so right next door so this is also recommended for your Japan experience as you leisurely soak in the waters of Gokayama.