The gassho-zukuri [prayer-hands] of the Sho River, Japan.




Built during the 19th century; these homes are aligned parallel to the Sho River, giving a very harmonious landscape. The architectural style is known as gassho-zukuri, meaning prayer-hands, characterized by a steep thatched roof allowing the houses to shed heavy snowfall in winter.


Silk production, which needed large enclosed spaces for silkworm beds and storage of mulberry leaves, was an important factor in the development of this style of house.

The smoke from open fires in these homes preserves the beams and ropes of the structure which has no nails, much like the stave churches of Norway.

A roof of this type lasts some 40-50 years, after which the entire community work together to re-thatch the house. Watch them work together on a video about thatching the gassho-zukuri at UNESCO where you can select the audio language.

The picture left is one of the gassho-zukuri rice barns surrounded by fields of rice where the grain is threshed and the straw dried for thatching materials.

More rice thatch here, a bamboo and rice straw home in Iran


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