Hideaway for the Heike!? ”Gokayama Gassho zukuri Village”

Hideaway for the Heike!?
”Gokayama Gassho zukuri Village”

Folk Song in the World Heritage Designated Village

Gokayama was designated World Heritage as ”Shirakawago / Gokayama Gassho Zukuri Village” along with Shirakawa village of Gifu prefecture in 1995. Gassho-style houses were built out of necessity so the houses do not get crushed under the weight of the snow, this being an area with heavy snowfall during the winter. The rows of houses surrounded by the dense vegetation of the mountains display a classic Japanese scenery. At Gokayama, there are many ”Minyo” folk songs such as the famous ”Minyo” song, ”Kokiriko bushi” or ”Mugiyabushi” noted as the oldest of such songs of Japan. There are tales which have not been proven fact or fiction, that Gokayama was a hideout for the Heike clan after they lost their war against Kiso (or Minamoto) Yoshinaka. Lyrics from ”Mugiyabushi” mention lines such as ”Getting rid of the luxurious clothes once worn..” or ”Feeling lament and sadness for the path I will now follow after the defeat.” Lyrics express how the Heikes flee from the capital and go into hiding.

The Tradition Lives on

Another dance is the ”Maimai” which can probably be said as the oldest folk dance that exists in Japan. During festivals the young would gather and dance holding hands one after the other in turn. There is a saying that you are destined to marry the person you held hands with during this dance… Gokayama has its own uniqueness. The visible traditional Gassho made houses and the not visible old traditional folk songs both exist as a part of Gokayama history.


Gokayama Gasho zukuri Village
Former Tairamura, Kamitairamura) Gokayama region Nanto-shi Toyama
URL http://gokayama-info.jp/en/