Photo of the week (posted 7 June 2020)
A farmhouse in the countryside near Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture, central Japan. The area is in the heart of Japan's Yukiguni ('Snow Country'), one of the snowiest regions on our planet, but located at a similar latitude as Italy and California. Snow Country houses typically have two to three storeys to enable entry/exit when the lower levels are completely buried in snow, and a protruding entrance area where horses and cattle could be kept during winter (an architectural style called chumon-zukuri). Thatch was the standard roofing material in the olden days, as roof tiles would simply slide off under the sheer weight of snow, however, most thatch roofs have now been converted to metal due to a dire shortage of both thatching material and thatchers. In contrast to the long winter, Snow Country in summer 'explodes' with green growth as monsoonal heat and humidity combine with abundant snowmelt to nourish one of the most productive 'foodbowls' of Japan. Read more on the Snow Country. Photography by Takehiko Hashimoto, July 2016.