Shirakawa-Mura is a mountainous village famous for its at least 300-year-old traditional gassho-zukuri-style houses in Gifu, Japan. Today, the village has 114 surviving houses in gassho-zukuri style which means hands joined in prayer. Being a “spiritual hometown” for the Japanese, Shirakawa-Mura village was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage zone in 1995.
The architecture of these picturesque houses perfectly evolved to adapt to the snowy climate of the region. That is, the steep thatched roof distributes the weight of accumulated snow while also reducing the work of snow removal. Every house also has gable ends facing north/south, which enables the snow to melt by day. It is also interesting that these old houses are built completely out of natural materials without a single nail.
Also functioning as an outdoor museum, the village allows visitors to stay at the houses and experience how Japanese people lived in the older times. They can enjoy the rustic feeling of meals prepared on the hearth, the attic that functions as a bedroom as well as the nostalgic bathroom and kitchen.