Ainokura Village

A piece of living history

Ainokura, located in the Nanto-shi region of Toyama-ken, is a truly unique destination in japan. With its well-preserved gassho-zukuri thatched-roof buildings, Ainokura offers visitors a rare glimpse into pre-modern Japan. These traditional houses, with their steep thatched roofs that resemble hands in prayer (gassho), are a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the people who built them.

There are more than 20 gassho-zukuri buildings in Ainokura, and many of them have been certified by UNESCO. These buildings are not just relics of the past; they are still inhabited by local residents, who have carefully preserved the traditional way of life in this village. Walking through the streets of Ainokura feels like stepping back in time, as if you have been transported to a different era.

One of the highlights of visiting Ainokura is the opportunity to explore the village’s museums. These museums showcase the wealth of crafts that have been passed down through generations, from lacquerware to ceramics to textiles. Local artisans also display unique musical instruments that are native to the region. It’s truly a treat for art and history enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for an immersive experience, you can even stay the night at one of the gassho-zukuri lodgings in Ainokura. These traditional Japanese inns, known as minshuku, offer a rustic and cozy atmosphere that is reminiscent of the village’s historical setting. The scent of old wooden beams and the warmth of the traditional hearth create a truly enchanting experience.

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Throughout the year, Ainokura hosts seasonal light-up ceremonies that add an extra layer of magic to the village. These light-up displays illuminate the gassho-zukuri buildings and create a mesmerizing atmosphere. Whether you visit Ainokura in the winter or spring, you’re sure to be captivated by the beauty and tranquility of this village.

How to Get There

Ainokura is easily accessible from Toyama, Takaoka, and Shirakawa-go. If you’re coming from Toyama or Takaoka, you can visit Ainokura as a day trip. From Shintakaoka Station, you can take a bus to the Ainokura stop, which takes about an hour. If you’re coming from Shirakawa-go, you can take the same bus line in the opposite direction, and you’ll reach Ainokura in about 45 minutes.

Far from the madding crowd

Ainokura’s location in the Gokayama valley has long isolated it from outside influence. Despite being accessible by bus, the village has retained its timeless ambiance and charm. Along with neighboring Suganuma Village and nearby Shirakawa-go, Ainokura is one of only three villages of its kind, which is a significant factor in its shared UNESCO status.

Suganuma Village, located near Ainokura, is another hidden gem in the Nanto-shi region. Like Ainokura, it boasts well-preserved gassho-zukuri buildings and offers visitors a glimpse into the past. The village’s picturesque scenery and tranquil atmosphere make it a perfect destination for those seeking serenity and a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Gokayama, also located in the Gokayama valley, is another must-visit destination. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its traditional gassho-zukuri houses and stunning natural surroundings. Gokayama is particularly captivating at night when the village is illuminated, creating a magical atmosphere that enchants visitors.

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Spend the night

While most buildings in Ainokura are private residences, a few operate as minshuku, or traditional Japanese lodgings. Staying at one of these inns allows you to immerse yourself in the village’s history and experience the traditional way of life. The rooms are simple yet cozy, and the hospitality of the hosts is unparalleled. Waking up to the sound of nature and enjoying a traditional Japanese breakfast is a truly unforgettable experience.


Ainokura hosts various winter and spring illuminations or light-up displays throughout the year. These events showcase the beauty of the gassho-zukuri buildings and create a magical atmosphere in the village. The combination of the traditional architecture and the soft glow of the lights is truly breathtaking.

In conclusion, Ainokura is a piece of living history that offers a rare glimpse into pre-modern Japan. With its well-preserved gassho-zukuri buildings, museums showcasing traditional crafts, and opportunities to stay in traditional Japanese lodgings, Ainokura is a destination that should not be missed. Whether you’re an art and history enthusiast or simply seeking a unique cultural experience, Ainokura will captivate your senses and leave a lasting impression. So, plan your visit to this enchanting village and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of Ainokura.

Address And Maps Location:

Ainokura, Nanto-shi, Toyama-ken

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