There are various types of hotels in Japan; western style hotels, Japanese traditional ones, youth hostels, riders' houses, dormitories, , , . Among them, the accommodations which are run by ordinary people are called Minshuku. They give their guests meals and overnight stays in their houses. Most traditional houses in Gokayama provide this type of stay to visitors and I became intersted in the life of the mountainside. Especially, what is life like here in the winter? I'm thinking of visiting there again and staying for a few days in the winter. You can see the scenery of winter in Gokayama village here.
About the structure of the houses:
The floor was designed higher than usual, because people were cultivating the soil under the floor. Potassium nitrate, which was the main material of gunpowder, was secretly produced by biochemical methods here. Various plants, feces of silkworms, human urine and some other marerials were put into a hole under the floor and cultured for years. People live on the first floor and the heat goes up to the upper floors. It helped raise silkworms to obtain silk. After that the heat went out of the house through the roof which was made of straw.
Ancestors' wisdom is concentrated in this style of house. These houses thoroughly deserve a World Heritage designation, I think.
potassium nitrate 硝酸カリウム
designation [U] 指名, 任命, 指定／[C] 称号, 呼称, 名称