Picture the scene of ancient Japanese villages adorned with expansive, exaggerated rooftops, and Gifu’s Shirakawago Village instantly springs to mind. However, just 30 minutes from this renowned site bustling with tourists year-round lies a lesser-known treasure that embodies the same rustic charm and traditional allure — Suganuma Village.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nestled within Toyama Prefecture’s Nanto City, Suganuma Village is part of a 40-village cluster that makes up Gokayama. In 1995, Suganuma, along with its neighbour Ainokura, received the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status. Set against a mountainous backdrop and nestled along Sho River, Suganuma Village was recognised for their gassho-zukuri houses — farmhouses with distinctive steep thatched roofs and wooden beams. These architectural feats were designed to withstand harsh winters and snowfall, evoking historical resilience.
Suganuma Village appeals to visitors regardless of season. In summer, visitors can bask in the picturesque mountain scenery and admire the rustic beauty of the gassho-zukuri houses. In winter, Suganuma Village captivates with pristine white snow covering the rooftops. The site becomes a magical spectacle, with the village hosting illuminations that cast an enchanting glow during winter, lasting until early spring.