Shirakawa-go: Thatched-Roofed World Heritage Site *RERUN
Located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture, Shirakawa-go is a village full of old-fashioned houses with thatched roofs - and a registered World Heritage Site. The roofs are steeply slanted, products of a building technique called Gassho-zukuri, which was born of the knowledge built up by surviving in an extraordinarily snowy region. The scenery in the 300-year-old town hasn't changed. Even now, time moves slowly. This is the story of the villagers of Shirakawa-go living hand-in-hand.

Gassho-zukuri and the 3 Rules of the Village

"Gassho" refers to the way Japanese people put their hands together during prayer. The large roofs resemble the praying hands, thus, the architectural style is called Gassho-zukuri. They were first built 300 years ago. But with modernization came the rapid demolition of such houses, and several hamlets have disappeared in Shirakawa-go. It was the people of Ogimachi village who stood up to preserve the Gassho-zukuri houses and attract tourism. They talked and came up with 3 rules for Gassho-zukuri: "don't sell, don't lease, don't destroy."

The Doburoku Festival: The Village's Annual Festival

The Doburoku Festival for Shirakawa Hachiman Shrine is held on 14 and 15 of October. Over 200 people - one-third of the village population - go around town accompanying the gods. The procession visits houses that have invited the gods, and the lion dance is performed. Inviting the gods to your house is a way to give thanks for something good that happened during the year, such as the birth of a child. The re-thatching of a roof is another such event.

A Village Protected by Everyone

Since long ago, all the villagers of Shirakawa have come together to re-thatch the roofs. Even in other activities, they work to help one another. In this region, the word "yui" is used. It's a word describing the bonds between the villagers. "Yui" is their duty, and also what has protected the village. Men and women, young and old. Working, having fun, enlivening the village.