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Volume 3 Supplement 2

Rural Heritage: Value, Conservation and Revitalisation

Conservation Design for Traditional Agricultural Villages: A Case Study of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama in Japan

Abstract

Agricultural villages in Japan are declining and disappearing rapidly. When an agricultural village goes extinct, its tradition and culture die as well. Conserving agricultural villages as cultural heritage sites is one way of preserving them for the future. Agricultural villages can be influenced by the economic and social situation of a country. To safeguard both tangible and intangible cultural traditions, the way that we interpret them is important. Re-designing elements of the landscape may be necessary for conservation, but it may change the natural environment of a village. This paper aims to discuss conservation design in agricultural villages through a case study of the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, which are World Heritage Sites. In Shirakawa mura, there are regulations for the design of landscape elements. Tangible elements are controlled by regulations and guidelines. Gassho-style houses are crucial elements of the design, and each element has a relationship with everyday activities such as agriculture and sericulture. In modern times, relationships with nature have become tenuous, and activity in forest areas has declined. To pass on the traditions and culture of these villages to the next generation, it is important to create new links between each element. An agricultural village cannot continue to be lively without residents. The self-motivation of residents is important for the sustainable development of agricultural villages.

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Correspondence to Nobu Kuroda.

Additional information

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP18K05702.

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Kuroda, N. Conservation Design for Traditional Agricultural Villages: A Case Study of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama in Japan. Built Heritage 3, 7–23 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03545724

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Keywords

  • cultural landscape
  • community
  • Gassho-style houses
  • farmland
  • forest