Rediscover Japan from a historic Gassho home in World Heritage Site Gokayama, now on Airbnb

June 21, 2023

For the first time in decades, Suganuma village – a World Heritage Site – is opening its doors to overnight guest.

  • Following three years of border closures and travel restrictions, this picturesque village in Japan – typically only open to residents once the sun goes down – offers travelers the opportunity to experience the history and heritage of a cultural time capsule.
  • For two nights only, the Nakashima family – fifth generation locals – are hosting guests under the 170-year-old thatched roof of their family home for an authentic stay immersed in the rich traditions of the area.

Situated on the shores of the Sho River and surrounded by high, rugged mountains, the nine-home village of Suganuma is one of the most beautiful and charming places in Japan. It is also one of the country’s best kept secrets.

This summer, Airbnb is offering guests the opportunity to experience this World Heritage Site in a way no one else has in over 20 years – with an overnight stay in one of its historic homes.

With great support from Nanto City and the Nakashima family – fifth generation locals – are listing their centuries-old, thatched-roof house on the platform, Airbnb will enable guests to explore Suganuma village in an incredibly authentic way.

Following three years of travel restrictions, lockdowns, and isolation, locals and travelers alike are seeking connection with the world around them. In a recent survey[1], over 60% of respondents said they felt travelling on Airbnb provided a closer connection to the local culture than staying in a hotel or resort. Often regarded as a “hidden village” because it is without tourist accommodations (and typically, only residents are permitted to enter after dusk), Suganuma is a cultural time capsule. This unique Airbnb stay offers guests the opportunity to experience the village in a way that upholds its traditions and preserves its heritage for generations to come.

The village’s Gassho-zukuri style farmhouses, like the Nakashimas’ family home, are particular to the region, with their pitched, thatched roof structures enabling these homes to withstand heavy winter snowfall and the test of time. The thatching technique is a local tradition that requires a great deal of time and effort, so locals work together based on the system of yui, the spirit of mutual support, in which Suganuma and its preservation are rooted.

“We are honored to offer a truly unique experience in Suganuma village, a World Heritage Site, through our collaboration with Airbnb. The rich history and vibrant culture of this charming small town, coupled with the warm hearts of the people who live there, will make for a fascinating and restorative stay. We hope this campaign brings attention to this beautiful destination for both Japanese residents and guests from around the world,” stated Mr. Mikio Tanaka, Mayor of Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture.

“I am delighted to open my family’s home for a unique stay that will enable guests to enjoy the traditional life of our beautiful village of Suganuma. Through our collaboration with Airbnb, my family and I look forward to providing guests with unique experiences that have been part of our village for centuries,” commented Mr. Shinichi Nakashima, Airbnb Host.

About the stay

A beautiful example of living in harmony with nature, Suganuma is a feast for both the eyes and the soul. The Nakashima family are proud to invite one group of two guests* to see their peaceful valley for themselves for a two-night stay from July 17 – 19, 2023 for $0** – a nod to the priceless nature of the experience.

During their stay, guests will:

  • Enjoy a traditional welcome tea and local dishes prepared by Mr. Nakashima including Gokayama tofu, mountain vegetables and freshly-caught river fish.
  • Learn about local traditions that have been sustained for centuries, such as the making of washi, a paper made of local fiber, and the creation of sasara, a traditional instrument featured in one of the region’s oldest folk songs.
  • Enjoy a magical evening light show and folk song experience, where locals illuminate their traditional homes and local song and dance is showcased.
  • Participate in a hands-on workshop crafting thatched roofs emblematic of local Gassho-zukuri building techniques.
  • Explore the sanctity of the village’s lush surroundings with a relaxing guided bike ride.

To facilitate disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature while on site, guests will receive a “Disconnect to Connect” kit that includes a stationary set made of traditional washi paper, an instant camera and local aromatherapy kit.

How to book

Those interested in exploring one of Japan’s hidden gems like a local can request to book this stay beginning Friday, June 30 at 9 a.m JST (Thursday, June 29 at 8 p.m. ET) at

Guests are responsible for their own travel to and from Suganuma village, and should note that this stay’s rules require following applicable local rules and guidelines as well as Airbnb’s COVID-19 Safety Practices, which will include wearing a mask and practicing social distancing when required by local laws or guidelines. On-site staff will also comply with local rules and guidelines while on-site, and will abide by our five-step enhanced cleaning process.

Interested in becoming an Airbnb Host? Learn more at

*This two-night stay is available for one participant and their fellow guest and is not a contest.

**Inclusive of taxes and fees

Airbnb is closely monitoring Japanese COVID-19 infection rates and government policies. Airbnb will determine if it is necessary to cancel the stay.

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