Village has you living in the past
Heritage-listed Ainokura provides a glimpse of traditional Japanese village life and architecture in glorious mountain surroundings, writes Sue Bredow.
HERE’S sport on a television in a corner of the living room, a glowing log fire, hot tea on the table and some nice smells to do with dinner. While it sounds like an average home late one chilly afternoon, this house is rather different.
The sport on TV is sumo. The smoky fire is in a pit in the middle of the floor with the basis of dinner, five Japanese char fish on sticks that stay there for more than two hours. The tea is sencha, or Japanese green tea.
The 210-year-old farm house, Shoshichi, is in the mountainous centre of Honshu, Japan’s main island about an hour’s drive from the coastal city of Toyama. Giant black wooden beams supporting the three-storey heritage home have been strengthened by more than two centuries of smoke.
I am joking when I ask for the Wi-Fi password and am truly surprised when it is offered. There’s not much else here in the charming village of Ainokura, a settlement of 23 houses listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1995, that is modern although there is an inside toilet with heated seat.
While this comes as a welcome surprise because it’s snowing, it is necessary to don gumboots to head outside through the snow to the bathroom to wash and soak in a super-hot Japanese onsen bath.
The area’s architectural style is known as gassho and here in Ainokura the thatched roofs are pitched at a steep 60 degrees so the heavy snow slides off in winter. The thick beams are also built to withstand