Get the Flash Player to see this video.


Gokayama (五箇山) is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan. It is located southern-west of Toyanoma Prefecture. Gokayama is famous for Gassho style Houses. Gassho Style House is a traditional Japanese house commonly built in the snow country area of Japan. In winter, Gokayama is one of the snow countries which gets the heavy snowfall. Gokayama has many remaining Gassho Style houses since Edo period, and some of them are over 400 years old. Those traditional houses are still in use for house. People still lives those hundreds years old house.

Tourist Info.
Entire area is chosen as three star spot by Micheline Green Guide Japon.
There are parking and restroom for each Gassho spots.
There are 2 major Gassho residence and a couple of individual Gassho style houses.

0. at Takaoka Station.
1. use Local Bus(station 2) to Ainokuraguchi (2 hr.), Kaminashi and Suganuma.

MLJ Online Shop

Map around Gokayama

Detailed Travel Guide

The Residence Area of Gokayama
- Ainokura-
... is located at northern Gokayama. It has 20 remaining Gassho Houses. There are several Hotels which you can stay at Gassho Style houses. Also, two of Gassho style houses are opened as the local museum.

... is located at mid western of Gokayama. It has 9 remaining Gassho Houses. It has the light-up in February.
There are two museums in Suganuma which display production tools of making gunpowders and local folkcraft.

... is located at the center of Gokayama. There are couple of Gassho Houses in Kaminashi. Murakami house is one of the oldest Gassho Style Houses in Gokayama. It was built in the time of Oda Nobunaga (over 400 years ago). Murakami House is opened as the public museum, and it has traditional dance and music show.

-Iwase House-
... is the biggest Gassho Style House located southern-west of Gokayama. It is about 300 years old, and opened public.

Legend said, Gokayama established by Bushi of Taira clan after they lost at the Genpei war in 1183. There is no document to proof it, but some of old houses have the Kamon, the symbol of Taira.

During the Edo Period, it was Kaga's penal colony for political criminals.

Gassho Style House
Gassho literary means pray with both hands by fitting palms . Because the triangle figure of the house looks the similar to Gassho, it is named Gassho Style Houses. The roof has an angle of 60 degree to drop snows. It is made from thatching, and replaced every 20 to 30 years. The house use no metals, such as nails, and all made by ropes. It is very strong structure against snow, therefore most of Northern Japan, especially the area of Snow Countries, built Gassho Style Houses. The room layout of Gassho Houses is the same. The first floor is divided by 8, and put 2 together to make kitchen and entrance. Four other rooms are used for living space. When they repatch the roof, all people in town help together. This work is called "Yui."

Gokayama's main product was gunpowder. It became popular after guns were imported in Sengoku Period, but the gunpowder production itself existed before guns. They use silkworms to produce gunpowders. The second and third floors of Gassho Houses are used for growing silkworms, and gunpowder was produced under "Irori," the fireplace of traditional Japanese house. Gunpowder was the biggest industry for Gokayama during Edo Period.

Five rules you must comply strictly with:

1. No smoking in this area. Smoke only permitted place.
2. Don't enter sideways, gardens and farms. All of them are private properties.
3. No car entry. Give away for local cars.
4. Never visit this area too early in the morning and at night.
5. Bring your trash with you, and leave nothing here.