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Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan.

Gassho-zukuri is a house built of wooden beams combined to form a steep thatched roof that resembles two hands together.  In Shirakawa, they are called "Kiritsuma-Gassho-zukuri," and the roof can be looked triangular just like a standing book open and is the characteristic of these houses in this country.  The structure is built to suit the environment in Shirakawa.  It is made to with stand heavy snowfall.  The houses face north and south, to minimize wind resistance, and are also built for comfort in both summer and winter. The houses stand in a certain direction to adjust the amount of sun in order to keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The Wada House is thought to have been built in the mid-Edo period and is dignified as the largest of the remaining gassho houses.

The lineage of the family in this house dates to 1573. Assuming the name "Yauemon," they served as the head of the village during the Edo period.

One of the guest rooms on the first floor called "okunodei."

The second floor was used for silkworms cultivating. Its height made it possible to bring in light from the both ends of the eaves.

The space was kept at the proper temperature by means of warm air ascending from the hearth below.

The wood was assembled and bound tightly with thick straw ropes. No nails or iron clamps were used.

A view from one of the windows on the 2nd floor.

Huge Japanese oak trees bent at the base by the weight of snow were used for beams, displaing unparalleled strength after it becomes part of a house.

Looking at the edge of the roof of the Wada House, the straw is atleast 1.5 feet thick!