Gokayama

Suganuma in Gokayama

Gokayama (五箇山) is composed of two separate historic villages in Toyama, Japan. Together with the better-known Shirakawa-go in Gifu, they were registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites on December 9, 1995.

Understand

Gokayama is famous for its farmhouses, which are built in a unique architectural style known as gasshō (合掌). The name means "hands together" as in prayer, referring to the steep roofs that keep the snow off in the winter. Underneath the roofs, the large attic area was used to house silkworms.

The kanji of the current name mean "Five Mountains", but the original name is actually "Between Five Valleys" (五箇谷間), which is pronounced the same.

Get in

There are no train stations in Gokayama, but there are buses. From Toyama Prefecture, there are buses from JR Johana Station (40 min) or Takaoka (2 hours, ¥1,800). From Gifu Prefecture, there are buses from Shirakawa-go that connect fairly well with the buses that come from Takayama. There are also direct buses from Kanazawa. Be aware that some of the buses do not operate in the winter.


See

Sleep

Gokayama offers numerous ryokan based Japanese inns for overnight stays. Most of these inns are gassho based inns and offer both dinner and breakfast in the accommodation fee. Dinner is generally traditional Japanese dishes consisting of river fish and exquisite mountain vegetables; you will almost certainly sleep on a futon on a tatami mat.

Stay safe

Just like the better known Shirakawa-go, Gokayama's buildings are mainly produced of highly flammable traditional materials, smoking is heavily regulated in the village. If one must smoke they must do so at a designated position within the village (indicated by bench seats, a sign and a 3 foot high large ash tray). Please refrain from smoking unless in a designated area. Gokayama has a backup village fire suppression system, however, triggering it via a burning cigarette butt would be a foul end to a good holiday.

Respect

Although this is a moderately popular tourist destination, some people do live in some of the traditional houses. Keep this in mind as you tour.

Go next

Routes through Gokayama

Takaoka Junction W E  N  S  Shirakawa-go Gifu


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