Hidden away in the mountains of Gero lies the small village called Gassho Mura which is made up of a series of thatched houses built using a Gassho Zukari style. The Gassho Zukari style houses have huge slanted rooftops and can also be found in the more famous Shirakawago. Gassho Mura preserves a part of what life was like and how people of Japan lived 50 years ago.
“Saijiki no Mori” and “Gassho no Sato” are the two areas that make up Gassho Mura. Each area allows visitors a chance to see traditional tools, houseware, furniture, and nicknacks from the past.
Saikiji no Mori is one of the two areas of Gassho Mura with fewer houses and plenty of greenery to enjoy so bring you camera. During cherry blossom (sakura) season, this area is bursting with cherry blossoms and maple trees; and is a wonderful place for a stroll or to take the perfect picture. Saikiji no Mori is made up of five spots:
12. Kareu Shrine – Gero’s original frog shrine.
13. Banko-an – A resting spot with a tea house and gallery.
14. Mori no Suberidai- A175 meter roller slide.
15. Tenbo- A rest spot with the perfect view of Gero.
16. Miharashidai- The highest point in Gassho
Gassho no Sato is the second area of Gassho Mura and is a bit bigger than Saikiji no Mori but with more houses with lots of preserved things to sees and do. This area has numerous exhibits that show visitors the cultural, and agricultural aspects of ancient Japan. Many of the tools, trinkets, and nick knacks are almost perfectly preserved for that traditional feel. Gassho no Sato consist of the following, must see spots:
1. Folk Museum – Displays of folk tools.
2. Fufu Sugi – A power spot for couples believed to bring love and happiness to the couple.
3. Gassho no Ashiyu – A footbath to relax.
4. Takehara Puppet Theater – A traditional style puppet theater where guests can enjoy a puppet show.
5. Itakura – A nationally registered Cultural Property.
6. Odo House – A nationally designated Cultural Property of Important artifacts.
7. Kaeru no yutaka – A resting spot with an interesting display of frogs from around the world.
8. Hida Workshop – Holds a series of workshops where guests can try making ceramic art or washi patterns.
9. Enkuhan – An exhibit about Enku ( a monk), which also has displays of his wooden images of Buddha.
10. Ichikura – A restaurant that serves fish and ramen.
11. Takahashi Shrine – A shrine to the Gods of cooking.
17. Chaya – A conveniently located soba restaurant.
18. Shirasagiza – A shadow play theater where visitors can see shadow box show.
19. Gassho Shop – A souvenir shop.
There are numerous rest stops and foot baths so visitors can relax. The tree-filled landscape has a nice cool breeze in the summer time but can get a bit cold during the winter months. However, not all exhibits are outside, there are a few indoors too which is always a nice option.
Gassho Mura offers a lovely landscape but if you are looking for more than pictures to take home, you are in luck! The Hida workshop area (attraction number 8), seems to be on everyone’s list. They offer several pottery classes so visitors can try their hands at ceramic painting an item of their choice. This is a great chance to take home something really unique and handmade. There are many items to choose from, items include; sake cups, coffee cups, mugs, bowls, dishes, vases and figurines and plenty of guidance! It does take some time to complete the final product, but visitors can roam the grounds partaking in other activities like Japanese paper making. But overseas delivery is also a shipping option for a small fee.
The Shadow Play Theater (Shirasagiza) show is also an attraction worth the wait. At Gassho Mura, visitors can enjoy the special and ancient art of shadow play. This brilliantly-choreographed show combined with lively computer animation and exciting sound effects convey the history of Gero onsen to the audience in a refreshing way. The show is scheduled twice a day and tickets can be purchased for ¥300 a ticket.
There is a lot of history to see and is the perfect combination of nature and history. If you are considering a visit here, be sure to take your walking shoes and bask in every moment at Gassho Mura.
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