Miyama, a cluster of villages near Kyoto, is preserving the ancient tradition of thatched roofs in Japan through sustainable tourism, reviving rural traditions, and fostering pride in local heritage.
Thatched buildings have a deep connection to Japan’s history and culture, but they are becoming increasingly rare. However, in a cluster of villages near Kyoto called Miyama, the ancient tradition of thatched roofs is being preserved. Miyama is a densely forested area with 57 villages, where residents have maintained rural traditions and self-sufficiency. Thatching is closely related to Japan’s Shinto religion, and thatched roofs are even created for special occasions such as the emperor’s ascension to the throne. Miyama’s thatched houses, some of which are registered as Tangible Cultural Properties, have been opened to overnight visitors, allowing them to experience the unique lifestyle and architectural beauty of the region. The government has embraced sustainable tourism as a strategy to revitalize rural landscapes, and Miyama has seen an influx of visitors, contributing to the preservation of local crafts, traditions, and landscapes. The tourism industry has also helped improve services and infrastructure in the area. Through these efforts, Miyama’s residents have gained pride in their heritage, and the thatched houses have a better chance of survival in the face of property devaluation. The experience of staying in Miyama, surrounded by the beauty of nature and the history of thatched roofs, offers a glimpse into the passage of time and the connection between culture and the environment.