From the beginning, Kiso-Hirasawa developed as a center for Japanese lacquerware production. It was associated with Narai-Juku which is along the Nakasendo Road. Narai-Juku flourished both as a post town and as a lacquerware productive center in the Kiso region. However, as a producer of Kiso lacquerware, Kiso-Hirasawa became increasingly prosperous and more famous than Narai-juku town during the late pre-modern period. Even now, Kiso-Hirasawa is well known and respected as the home for lacquerware in Japan.
The Kiso-Hirasawa Preservation District spreads over 12.5 hectares and is centered around the town's to main streets, the former Nakasendo Road and Kinsaicho Street with both running from north to south. The development of the present urban fabric and the division of the land took place in mid-18th century, in the reconstruction effort from the damage of a conflagration in 1749.
Houses line the two main streets, each with an often-triangular space in front called Agamochi. Conventionally, warehouses as workshops of lacquerware (Nuri-gura) are allocated behind the houses. Other buildings such as annexes or storages are put in the backmost of the plot. Traditional houses have an earthen passage (Tori-doma) from the front entrance to the back entrance, and/or keep an alleyway between houses, in order to ensure easy access between the streets and Nuri-gura warehouses.
Within the limited number of traditional buildings preserved from the 19th to early-20th century, there are more than 100 surviving warehouses in the Preservation District. They have wooden structures covered with thick mud walls that help maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity for lacquer work. The wide openings are also a structural feature of the Nuri-gura warehouses.
Kiso-Hirasawa's deep-rooted connections to the Japanese lacquerware industry remain evident today in its historic landscapes and buildings. It was thus classified as an "Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings" by the Japanese government.