Former Yanohara Family ResidenceFormer Yanohara Family Residence.

This gassho-style (steeply slanted thatched roof) house dates from the first half of the 1800s. It was originally built in Shokawa Village, Gifu Prefecture, adjacent to Shirakawa-go, another small, traditional village designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With Shokawa destined to be submerged as a result of dam construction, the house was relocated in 1960 to Sankeien. Although the house was built for farmers, it features upper-class architectural elements, such as a spacious entrance hall for welcoming important guests, tatami mats in the reception room, and distinctive window designs, including katomado, bell-shaped openings often seen in Zen Buddhist temples. This is one of the largest gassho-style private houses still existing in Japan and is indicative of the Yanohara family’s prosperity. Displayed inside the house are farming implements gathered from the area around Shirakawa-go at the time of relocation. There is an irori sunken hearth in the middle of the living room floor, where a fire is built each day. From the smell of the smoke and the sooty black pillars and beams, visitors can get a sense of life in old Shirakawa-go.