Vil­lage has you living in the past

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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