The World Heritage -The Historic Village of Gokayama-
The World Heritage
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"Excuse me"…gently whispered, as one enters


The World Heritage - SUGANUMA VILLAGE

The World Heritage - Suganuma Village consists of nine Gassho-style houses situated on a terraced plateau along the Sho River.

The village is located on the north side of the riverbank of the Sho River; where the river flows east. (North and South 230m and East and West 240m) The mountain range that surrounds Suganuma Village is called "Yukimochirin" which is planted to stop a snowslide; it is forbidden to cut down these trees.

In 1995, Suganuma Village was registered as part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The World Heritage - Standards and Requirements


Represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; or


Exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture, technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design; or


Bear a unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared; or


Be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; or


Be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement or land use which is representative of a culture(or cultures), especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change; or


Be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas or beliefs, or with artistic or literary works of outstanding universal significance (the Committee considers that this criterion should justify inclusion in the List only in exceptional circumstances or in conjunction with other criteria cultural or natural)


The qualification to be registered with The World Heritage is to meet more than one of these six standards and authenticity. "Authenticity" refers to its historical and artistic value of the cultural heritage. Applied to GASSHO-ZUKURI Houses, it means that GASSHO-ZUKURI Houses has not changed their form, such as waterways, houses and farms, for more than 200 years. Therefore, historical authenticity of this village is preserved.

The specifications of Ainokura Village and Suganuma Village are noted as historical landmarks and are required not to make any landscape changes.

The community of Suganuma Village has made effort possible to maintain the village culture and landscape. When you come to Suganuma Village, you will feel nostalgia for the history of the effort of the village people trying to mainatain the “moment” of its scenery.



Gassho-style houses have been developede with the village people's life. The roofs of the Gassho-style houses are set at a 60 degree incline which can withstand vast amounts of snow.
Gassho-style houses subsisted on the rearing of silkworms, ensho(nitre)-making, and Japanese paper-making. The farms of Gokayama were small, so the village people were dependent on the income they received from the production of silkworms, nitre(gunpowder ingredient), and paper. A long time ago, nitre-making was one of the most important industries in GOKAYAMA. Ensho(nitre)-making was as important as agriculture.

A fireplace with a large open hearth and a storeroom of firewood was necessary to make the gunpowder ingreddient. A spacious earthen floor was suitable for Japanese paper-making.

The second and third floor of the Gassho-style houses were used for the rearing of silkworms. The ceiling of the Gassho-style houses captured the heat from the open hearth on the first floor.

The smoke from the open hearth soaked into the pillars of the Gassho-style houses and helped to increase the strength of the pillars. The making of nitre and rearing of silkworms, worked hand in hand, as the excrement from the silkworms was one of the raw materials used for making nitre.