“Gassho-Zukuri farmhouses, one of typical Japanese-style villages uder UNESCO World Heritage  ”

Ainokura village, located deep within a valley, is the most secluded settlement in the Gokayama region of Japan. With nearly 20 gassho-zukuri farmhouses, it is also the largest village in the area. While many of these farmhouses are still occupied by residents, some have been converted into restaurants, museums, and minshuku accommodations.In 1995, Ainokura, alongside Suganuma and Ogimachi, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Compared to Ogimachi, Ainokura is less developed and more challenging to reach, resulting in a quieter atmosphere with fewer tourists. It offers similar attractions to Ogimachi, including the highly recommended experience of staying overnight in a farmhouse. Due to its remote location, Ainokura has been successful in preserving much of its traditional culture, which is evident in its folk dances and music. The area boasts a variety of traditional instruments unique to the region, such as the sasara, a symbolic instrument made of numerous wooden clappers strung together. It has become a popular souvenir for visitors to the area.

The surrounding towns near Ainokura are famous for their production of washi paper.  According to legend, this technique was introduced to the area from Kyoto during the late Heian Period. It is said that survivors of the Taira Clan, following their defeat by the Minamoto Clan, sought refuge in this region and brought the art of making washi paper with them.  In the vicinity, there are several stores where visitors can witness local craftsmen creating washi paper and even attempt to make their own.

Ainokura Village Hours and Admission

  • Ainokura Village daytime visitors are asked to visit Ainokura only between 8:30 and 17:00.
  • 300 yen if you want to enter the museum ,but village entry is free of charge.

How to get to Ainokura Village 

  • Ainokura is a stop along the bus route between Shirakawago and Takaoka (see timetable). The one way bus ride from Shirakawago to Ainokura ("Ainokura-guchi" bus stop) takes 45 minutes and costs 1300 yen. From Shin-Takaoka Station, it takes about one hour and costs 1000 yen.
  • From Ogimachi, Ainokura can be reached in about 45 minutes along National Route 156. You can cut travel time by a few minutes by taking the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway between Shirakawago and Gokayama IC (580 yen expressway tolls). From Gokayama IC, Ainokura is reached in about 15 minutes. Parking costs 500 yen.

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