Former Toyama House Museum_1
Conservation of cultural property repairs were carried out in 2016.

Last Updated:October 14, 2016
Designated as an important cultural property. A gassho style house typical of those found in Shirakawa-go. Material relating to food, clothing, and shelter is publicly exhibited.


The Toyama House is perhaps the best-preserved example of a traditional farmhouse built in the gassho or “praying hands” style. This style of dwelling was developed in the Sho River valley during the latter half of the Edo period (1603–1867). The steeply slanted thatched roofs resemble hands pressed together in prayer. Other characteristics of the style, all present in the Toyama House, include a spacious multilevel attic with windows on the gable ends, an irori sunken fireplace in the middle of the first floor, and a pit for producing saltpeter (potassium nitrate, an essential ingredient in gunpowder) underneath the floor.

The house was built around 1850 for the Toyama family, which was the largest in the village of Miboro at the time. Its family heads held the hereditary position of village headman. Up to 48 members of the extended family lived together in the house; this was a common arrangement in Miboro and similar communities, where farmland was scarce and everyone’s labor was needed for home industries such as silk production. Anthropologists researching the extended family system from the late 1800s first attracted scholarly attention to the Toyama House.

Appreciation of the building itself and others like it was greatly influenced by the German architect Bruno Taut (1880–1938), who spent three years in Japan studying the country’s architecture in detail. Taut visited the Toyama House in 1935 and in his subsequent writings praised the “rationality” and simplicity of gassho-style houses, which he compared to farmhouses in the Swiss Alps. Taut’s words would later inspire local efforts to preserve these structures and have their cultural value recognized.

Experience Information

During the wintertime, you can make Suttate soup around the fireplace in Former Toyama House Folk Museum.

Suttate-soup-making.pdf(2023年1月19日 14時9分 更新 504KB)

Visitor’s Guide

Name Former Toyama House Museum
Address 125 Miboro, Shirakawa Village, Gifu Prefecture.
Hours 10時00分 –16時00分
  • Every Wednesday(or the day before where Wednesday is a national holiday)
  • Year-end and New Year holidays
Admission Adults ¥300 / Children ¥150
* Please note that the above information is provided for reference. There may be cases where it differs from current information.