Stepping onto a street of traditional Japanese houses with beautiful white walls, you might feel like you've wandered back to the glory days of old Japan. Kiragawa is located in Kochi prefecture's Muroto City, and boasts impressively-preserved traditional scenery. It also has the distinction of being the first area in Kochi prefecture to be officially designated a national Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings.
Kiragawa has access to good quality wood, so it has long thrived as a commercial district. In the Meiji era, it began to produce its famous "Tosa high-grade charcoal." The people of this area used sea routes to sell lumber and charcoal in Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka, and return with daily necessities. The fortunes amassed through that trade allowed the whole city to grow even more prosperous.
Typhoons frequently pass through this area, earning it the name "Typhoon Street." Because of this, a number of clever techniques were used to protect the houses and buildings. The white walls, made of a material called "Tosa Plaster," are highly resistant to strong winds and rain. Additionally, the eaves, "water draining tiles" protect the beautiful white walls from being directly battered by the wind and rain. This style of architecture is unique to the region, and was created to protect the buildings from inclement weather. The multi-layered "water draining tiles" on the white walls of the magnificent homes in the area symbolized both beauty and wealth.
Additionally, as a region that is severely affected by typhoons, protective stone walls called "ishiguro" surround the houses and buildings.
The stone walls are said to be able to withstand wind speeds of up to 80 meters per second, and are each of unique construction. One way to enjoy the appeal of the town is to compare and contrast the beauty of these walls.