There is a very charming place not too far from Nagoya, which I only discovered last week. In a country where everything is new and shiny, where modern urbanism is tasteless, charming places with character are rare. Ogimachi village, north of Nagoya in Gifu area, is one of them. One of Unesco's world heritage sites, it contains many traditional houses of the region, some of them built in the 17th century, called gassho-style farmhouses.
"gassho" literally means the fact of joining one's hand for the prayer. In this context, it designates the typical roof shape, strong and steep to withstand the heavy snowfalls in winter. Here is a typical farmhouse:
The roof is thatched and rather thick:
With such a construction, it is amazing that those houses could be spared from fires for several centuries.
A couple chains hanging down the roof allow people to climb and remove the accumulated snow in winter:
The largest of those houses have four stories and besides housing, they were used for manufacturing activities, notably silk farming. Nowadays, many of them serve as restaurants or minshukus (family-run lodging) and a night at one of them is great experience, and that's what I did. I was with my girlfriend and I have to say that you don't have much privacy, considering how thin the partitions are and the fact that they don't reach the ceiling.
Anyway, the atmosphere is awesome! Rice and vegetables directly come from local cultures, and the fish from surrounding rivers. The local miso is also delicious!
The minshuku we stayed at was built more than 300 years ago. The interior is really traditional and there are plenty of old objects:
Here are some pictures of the village:
In the same region, there are two other similar villages, smaller but also charming. Here is Ainokura:
Nice, but a little too "amusement park like" to my taste. I enjoyed Suginuma much more:
I'll most likely go there again in winter, as the atmosphere is great and still very different.