Japan Atlas: Communities 


Location: Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture

Preserved Area: 13.1 ha (32.4 acres) 


A village of beautiful houses built by Shiwaku carpenters

The Shiwaku Islands are a group of islands located in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea, the body of water that separates Honshu, mainland of Japan from Shikoku. These islands have been an important shipping base for centuries, and they were home to a group of highly skilled sailors, known as the Shiwaku Marines, who were involved in government water transport and trade in the Muromachi and Edo periods (1336-1868).

Many highly skilled ship carpenters who built wooden ships for the Shiwaku Marines used to live on the Shiwaku Islands. In the Edo period (1603-1868), ship carpenters began using their shipbuilding skills to build houses. With their highly developed skills these ship carpenters, who became known as Shiwaku carpenters, headed off to other destinations and established a reputation for themselves in many places outside the Shiwaku islands.

One of the main central island in the Shiwaku Islands is Shiwaku-Honjima, and the port town of Kasashima area is located at the northeastern tip of this island, framed by hills and the ocean.

In Kasashima area, there are still over 100 beautiful houses built by Shiwaku carpenters in a unique structural style during the Edo period and Meiji era (1603-1912). These houses, on narrow streets stretching around the harbor like a net, create a beautiful townscape.

In recognition of how well these houses and the surrounding historical scenery are preserved, Kasashima area has been selected as an Important Historic Structure Group Preservation Zone.

Several of the houses are opened to visitors, enabling them to see the interior details produced with the carpenters' shipbuilding skills.

Photos: Kasashima Area (Marugame City) 

Unauthorized reproduction of the photos in this page is prohibited. 

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