Home >> Japan Accommodation,Japan Travel,Media Invitation / Sponsored Post >> Japan Traditional Farmhouse Stay (Gassho-zukuri Minshuku)

Japan-Traditional-Gassho-Zukuri-Farmhouse-Stay---Bumble-Bee-Mum

What is Gassho-Zukuri?

One of the top things to do in Japan is to spend a night at a Gassho-Zukuri.  Gassho-Zukuri are traditional Japanese farmhouses that date back more than 200 years ago.  The name Gassho-Zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer”. (Info source: Japan-guide.com)

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 01

A key feature of the houses is the triangular roof which gave this type of houses the name Gassho-Zukuri because the roof resemble palms placed together and fingers pointing upward in prayer. (Info source: JNTO)

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 17

No nails or other metal materials are used in the construction of this unique roofs.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 19Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 18

The most famous village in Japan for visiting Gassho-Zukuri is Shirakawa-Go, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   But probably due to its UNESCO World Heritage status, an overnight stay at one of the farmhouses at Shirakawa-Go is extremely hard to book.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 04

So in this post, I am going to share with you a Gassho-Zukuri that you can easily book from HomeAway.  This Gassho-Zukuri is not located at Shirakawa-Go, but in the Kyoto Prefecture.  Which makes it an easy side-trip if you have an extra day or two in Kyoto!

Our Gassho-Zukuri Stay

A Gassho-Zukuri stay is something that has been on my bucket list for a long time.  However, I have never been to Shirakawa-Go.  The closest I have been was to Hida Folk Village at Takayama back in Dec 2007.  But that was like a theme attraction, you can’t stay there.

During our self-drive trip to Kyoto last December, I was surfing for vacation homes in Kyoto on Homeaway when I spotted this “Japan Nature Traditional Living“.   Without hesitation, I contacted the host Hideo, chatted with him a bit and confirmed my stay with them.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 31

This particular Gassho-Zukuri was Hideo’s family home.  It was essentially the house he grew up in.  Right now, Hideo stays in the house right next to the Gassho-Zukuri.  On the day of check-in, we arrived in our rental car and Hideo was waiting for us there.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 02

The entrance to the house was not unlike the Japan traditional house we stayed at in Central Kyoto prior to this.  But once we entered, we were welcomed by the irori (open fireplace) that was a typical feature of a Gassho-Zukuri.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 03

The house was pretty huge with many rooms, and it took us quite some time to orientate ourselves.  We started with the kitchen which was right next to the entrance.  It was old-school but functional.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 25

With more than enough utensils!

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 26

Next to the kitchen was the dining room.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 27

With the help of Hideo and his family, we mananged to put together a superb sukiyaki meal for one of our dinners.  It was one of the best meal we had the entire trip!

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 29

Hideo drove us to the local supermarket and helped us pick out the ingredients required for a sukiyaki.  The beef at the local supermarket was so CHEAP!! That gigantic plate of wagyu beef only cost 2000+ yen. In Singapore, a fraction of that would easily cost SGD70 from Isetan.  I was ecstatic over the cheap beef.  Like omg, I’m so auntie!

When we returned, Hideo’s wife set up the pot for us.   They even gave us some cabbage from their own farm! A homestay experience really doesn’t get much better than this.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 30

The main bedroom was very homely with proper beds and furnishing that made me feel like I have stepped into a time machine to my childhood days.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 06

As I mentioned, this was Hideo’s family home where generations of kids grew up in.  So there were random toys, CDs and DVDs hanging around the room that we were free to use.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 07 Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 08

Next, we explored the sitting room which was very traditional.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 09

I had to take some time to admire the design on the sliding door and all the traditional Japanese items around the room.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 10Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 05

We went to another room which had a bathroom and toilet.  While the whole house was very traditional, the toilet and bathroom have been refurbished with modern sanitation.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 11

It was hard to miss the Japanese folding divider in the room that Hideo said has been passed down for generations.  It was painted with REAL GOLD. Imagine that!

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 12 Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 13

All around the house, we found random objects that you wouldn’t typically find in a vacation home.  Because this was the family home of Hideo, it housed all their collections that have been accumulated over 6 generations.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 23Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 24

And we came to the most exciting part of a Gassho-Zukuri – the attic!

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 14

So up the stairs we went! And since this is a parenting blog, I feel obliged to warn you of the safety hazard here.  At the attic, the railing doesn’t go around the whole opening for the stairs.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 14 (2)

Please DO NOT allow your young kids to go near the edges without railing because it is going to be a really hard fall all the way down to the first floor.  Monitor your kids at all times and don’t let them go up to the attic alone.

The attic was a mix of modern and tradition.  The furnishing and lighting were surprisingly modern.  Yet over our heads hung an architecture that dated back more than 200 years.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 15Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 16

The kids had a lot of fun exploring the attic.  We would probably have slept here – if not for the fact that it was winter and the attic was freezing cold!

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 15 (2)

So we just hung around for a while, while I took the opportunity to observe the knots that held the Gassho-Zukuri together.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 20 Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 21 Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 22

After exploring the interior of the house, we checked out the exterior.  Since this was a farmhouse, there was a small farm where Hideo’s family grew their own vegetables.  This is where the cabbage for our sukiyaki came from.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 32

There was a little balcony with table and chairs were we could chill and relax.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 34

Cannot resist inserting one more photo of MY sitting there.  It’s just so cute to see him in a hundred year old house!

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 33

How would you like to brew a cup of hot green tea and sit here looking out at the Japanese garden?

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 35

Day Trips

The house was located in a rural part of Kyoto prefecture.  I heard from Hideo that we were a rare breed of travellers who arrived in our own rental car.  Most of his guests took the train to the nearest train station where Hideo would pick them up from.  Subsequently, they would join his day trips.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 36

Hideo grew up here and knows the region very well.  You would not go wrong joining him on his day tours.  However, since we had a our own rental car, Hideo was very kind in suggesting to us places we could visit.  For example, he recommended us to visit the ‘Venice of Japan’ Ine – a town we would never have found on our own.

When he learned that we love seafood, he recommended us to visit the market at Wakasa Obama which was SO GOOD!

And if you would like to explore more Gassho-Zukuri, pay a visit to Kayabuki No Sato nearby.

Future Development

When we were there, the area opposite the house was undergoing some renovation.  I checked with Hideo and he said they were building a cafe!

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 37

And mind you, Hideo and his friends were building the cafe with their own hands.  It was not like they hired some contractor to do it.  Hideo said that they were hoping to get it ready by Spring this year.

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 38

Speaking of Spring, that is a cherry blossom tree right next to the future cafe.  Hideo said he wanted his guests to be able to sit back, relax, have a drink while gazing up at the cherry blossom tree.

So if you are heading to Kyoto this Spring, get off the beaten track and plan a stay with Hideo at this unique Gassho-Zukuri!

Our Host – Hideo

Shirakawago style Japan Traditional Farmhouse Minshuku Homestay in Kyoto Review 28

This is Hideo.  As you can see, he is very handsome. (I promised him I would say this in my reviews.)

Hideo is a true adventurer and loves meeting people – which makes him the perfect host.  He speaks fluent English and has been to many parts of the world before, so it would be very easy to strike a conversation with him, no matter where you are from.

In Summary…

I have been to Japan more than 10 times, and staying at Hideo’s home was one of the most unique and memorable experience I have had to date.  I would gladly strike off staying in a Gassho-Zukuri at Shirakawa-Go from my bucket list in exchange for this.  Hideo and his family were such great hosts and we got a true taste of what living in a Gassho-Zukuri was like. The house was unpretentious and filled with history and culture, and it didn’t feel touristy at all.

However, it is important to point out that the house gets very cold in winter.  Hideo warned us about it before we made the booking.  There were a few heaters but given the size of the house, there was a limit to how large an area the heater could heat up.  The room we slept in was well-heated, but the rest of the house like the bathroom and toilet were very cold.

Hence, I recommend staying here in Spring through Autumn if you are afraid of the cold. If you have plans to visit Kyoto, put aside an extra two days for this Gassho-Zukuri stay.  You will not regret it.

FOR RESERVATION

To reserve this apartment, visit this page and click ‘Contact Host’.

Homeaway Logo

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Homeaway.

PIN THIS UP FOR LATER!

Japan-Traditional-Gassho-Zukuri-Farmhouse-Stay---Bumble-Bee-Mum

OUR ITINERARY

Read about how we spent our time while staying at this apartment:

Driving-in-Kyoto---Tips-&-Itinerary-by-Bumble-Bee-Mum  

POSTS FROM THE SAME TRIP

 Loading InLinkz ...

OUR JAPAN TRAVEL BLOG

Get more tips & tricks on Japan travel on our Japan Travel Page!

japan-travelogue

Travel Tuesday Linky

Travel Tuesday Bumble Bee Mum
Grab my button:

 

 

Welcome to ‘Travel Tuesday‘! Every TUESDAY, I will share a travel post, and at the end of the post, you will find this linky with posts from other bloggers. If you have a travel moment or travel tip to share, simple click ‘Add your Link’ to share your blog post! Do visit some of the other blogs to leave a comment and say Hi. :)

 Loading InLinkz ...

A new linky will be up every Tuesday at 00.05 (Singapore Time GMT+8). So check back again next Tuesday for new sharings and to share more posts!

This post is also part of the following link-ups:

the author

Supposed to be a stay-home mom, but hates staying home. Definition of parenting is bringing the boys out for 'experiential learning' in Singapore, Japan and wherever else in the world her husband can afford to pay for.

55Comments

  1. Lydia C. Lee says:

    Isn’t the roof amazing!! Just tied together!

  2. I was a bit taken aback by the kitchen – the rest of the house was made of beautiful timbers and bamboo and then there was this white melamine kitchen.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Haha.. Yeah, the kitchen was probably refurbished somewhere along the 6 generations.. I don’t think any of us would know how to operate the kitchen if it was as traditional as the rest of the house. We may burn down the house or something. :p

  3. mmlittlee says:

    Ooooo this is like Airbnb? Does anybody normally live there or its only opened for bookings? I love it that it’s so Real! But I think my husband prefers for his meals to be presented to him and bed made by someone else hahaha

    Love that you made your own sukiyaki!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, Homeaway is pretty much like Airbnb. Hideo and his family lives in the house just beside this, so I think it’s usually vacant and open for bookings by travellers. But the house was occupied by Hideo and his family for 6 generations before this, which is why the house is so real. Unlike vacation homes that were set up to be vacation homes right from the beginning. Know what I mean?

  4. Jesslyn Ong says:

    Looks really interesting.. How many nights did you stay at this house?

  5. Phoebe says:

    The farm house is beautiful! I really love the attic and it would be a nice place to sleep in for sure! Loving every corner around the house which brings out the character of this home. The sukiyaki meat looks awesomely delicious! I really wish I can visit Japan.. havent even been there once :(

    • bumblebeemum says:

      That sukiyaki meat was totally AWESOME!! It’s the same kind that Isetan here sells at a premium but it was so cheap at the local supermarket there! Most value-for-money meal we had for the trip.

  6. Lisa (Travel Loving Family) says:

    Oh wow what an incredible experience! This would be so much more educational and memorable than staying in a hotel. I am amazed at how the farmhouse is built and your home cooked Japanese meal looks incredible:) #CityTripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I know right.. I was staring at all the corners of the roof and wondering how on earth they put it up! And how sturdy it is, considering how prone Japan is to earthquake, to survive 200 years.

  7. Simply awesome! So much better to stay in such rustic, traditional setting than the usual stereotype hotels. The interiors of the farmhouse look well-equipped for a family to stay and enjoy. I am sure kids will love this kind of stay.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The kids were super amused by their ‘hotel’. It was a little too cold for them to explore thoroughly though.. I would love to stay there again during a warmer month. And we would all camp in the attic – I’m sure the kids would love that.

  8. Wander Mum says:

    Like you say, a truly unique experience! I would have loved to have done something like this when we were in Japan. The house and its loft which you can explore is fascinating and the food looks divine…I am a huge fan of Japanese food! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I love Japanese food too and it’s what keeps me going to Japan again and again. I’m secretly glad I love Japanese food and not say, Spanish food, or I would go broke if I had to fly to Spain as often as I do to Japan!

  9. klimburn says:

    What a fantastic way to travel and experience the local area. Love the idea of getting to know local families – what a way to gain a unique insight. Looks a beautiful area for day tripping too. #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The area is indeed nice for a day trip from Kyoto, though most people wouldn’t think of it because central Kyoto has so many famous tourist spots. But I personally find central Kyoto a bit too crowded and touristy and recommend this for anyone who wants to get off the beaten track.

  10. MummyTravels says:

    This looks wonderful – how unusual to be able to stay somewhere like this too. I had such a wonderful time on our trip to Japan, but I would have loved to stay somewhere a bit more traditional even then. The food brought back some very happy memories! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      haha.. Food is the main reason I go to Japan again and again. Staying in somewhere traditional is really something quite different from staying in hotels, especially in countries which are so rich in culture like Japan.

  11. Kelli Horner says:

    The house is amazing and your photos are beautiful!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Thanks! The house was truly amazing. It has housed 6 generations! Compared to living in a country like Singapore, I can only count 4 generations since my grandmother stepped foot on Singapore and 2 out of the 4 houses (or more like flats) our family has stayed in before have already been demolished to make way for new flats. I cannot imagine how 6 generations can live in the same house.

  12. What an amazing experience. I spent a year teaching English in Japan – that was many many moons ago and would love to return with my little boy. This brought back many memories. Going to read some of your other posts now :) #citytripping

  13. Wow, awesome post! So many photos, and I learned so much about this aspect of Japanese culture! Your host and whole experience sounds amazing. I hope my time in Japan will have as many special moments someday! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping and #TravelTuesday!!

  14. Kirstie says:

    So atmospheric! I love that attic. So sorry we didn’t know about this when we stayed in Kyoto last year.

  15. Oh wow, this really sounds like such a great experience, and something I would really love to do! I knew nothing about this, so thank you for teaching me :)

  16. Ruth says:

    What I like about this experience is that it feels like you stayed with a friend that is local to the area. I love when you get the opportunity to do something like that. And, let’s talk about Hideo’s entrepreneurial spirit. He and his friend think about everything. I think it is good they are building their own cafe. Who knows what they are going to build / create next?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Indeed it was like staying with a friend. There is a chinese saying about how some people seem like an old-time friend the moment you meet them. When I met Hideo, the saying comes to my mind. We seem to have so much to talk about during the drive to and fro the supermarket. And he was so enthusiastic in recommending us great places to eat and sight see.

      It’s amazing how Hideo, someone who grew up in such a rural area, is well-versed in so many areas – from running a B&B to building a cafe. And guess what, his profession is a kimono designer! Who would have thought.

  17. Isn’t it so beautiful and close to the nature. I would definitely fall in love with it and that wooden feel is so amazing. I have stayed in one of the heritage places in India and one can really cant compare the warmth.

  18. Wow! That is the most elaborate review for a homestay :)
    I have read before that Shirakawago home-stay can only accommodate one night, due to long queue.

    And it will be a nice experience for my kids to experience home-stay.

    cheers, Andy
    (SengkangBabies)

  19. I’ve only been to Kyoto once but it is one of my absolute favourite places — I can’t wait to go back. I’ll definitely do a stay like this one when we do visit. It allows such a richer experience and you really understand so much more about Japanese culture. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Angie.S says:

    What an unique experience staying in a Gassho-Zukuri and a bonus that it comes with awesome hosts! You make me want to book the next flight back to Kyoto right now….

  21. http://prayerfullmum.net says:

    The drawings on the sliding door and the room separator is simply beautiful. I bet you are glad that at least the toilet facilities are modern… you get to enjoy traditional home-living with modern convenience :))

  22. This looks like such a good experience!! I love that you got to stay with a real family in their real house. And how cool is that that they’re building a cafe by hand?! The house looks really lovely as well as the little garden next to it. And that hot-pot…. YUM!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Haha.. Yeah.. That sukiyaki was really unforgettable. And I learned that I have been setting up my sukiyaki pot the wrong way all these while. I always boil the sauce with the veges first then cook the meat later in the boiling sauce. But they taught me to heat up the pot with some of the meat first to get the oil and fragrance onto the pot before adding in the sauce and other ingredients. Their way was definitely yummier than what I had been doing!

  23. Debs G says:

    Incredible! What a cool self-catering apartment – amazing that it stayed intact. That sukiyaki looks amazing too.

  24. Jolene says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! May I know where you rent your car from? My friends and I would like to drive from Kyoto (pick up) to Shirakawago and Toyama (drop off).. But I am having difficulty finding such rental cars online.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      We rented from Times car rental.

      Generally one-way rentals are harder to find compared to round-trip rentals. You have to go with the larger companies like Times, Nippon Rent a car, Nissan, Toyota etc.

  25. Elena Gozo says:

    I would really love to stay in this farmhouse for the rest of my life. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m planning to visit Japan next year and I’ll definitely include this farmhouse at Gassho Zukuri.

  26. Dona Lee says:

    Dear bumblebee mum, my name is Dona. I plan to visit Kyoto with my family this June Holiday. We are a family of 6 pax of all ages from baby to senior. We do not speak the Japanese language. Would greatly appreciate if you can help with itinerary. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

  • Ads

Top