Located precisely in the center of Japan, Gifu Prefecture is roughly divided into two regions: Hida in the north and Mino in the south. While the Hida region is defined largely by its grand mountains that rise more than 3,000 meters above sea level and the heavy snow it gets during the winter, the Mino region is characterized by its expansive plains and clear, flowing rivers. This sharp contrast between regions gives Gifu a marvelous variety in scenery and culture that few places can match.
Gifu is home to many distinctly "Japanese" locations and customs, ranging from the old streets and Historic District of Takayama and the other "Little Kyotos" in the prefecture to Gifu Castle, which renowned feudal warlord Oda Nobunaga used as his base from which to unite Japan into one country. Other "Japanese" elements to Gifu are UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go and the traditional method of cormorant fishing known as ukai. Hot springs are also abundant; the Okuhida Hot Spring Villages region is home to the most open-air hot spring baths of any region in Japan, and Gero Hot Spring is one of Japan's three most famous, dating back for over a millenium. Gazing at the surrounding natural landscapes while soaking in a comforting, rejuvenating hot spring bath is an absolute must when you come to Gifu!
Don't miss our top-grade Hida beef, which can be enjoyed as a slice of steak, shabu-shabu (hot pot)-style, or in many other forms! And be sure to try out our local sake, best appreciate when drunk from a kimasu wooden container that adds the pleasant fragrance of Japanese cypress. Mino Ware is also a highly regarded type of ceramics that you can appreciate first-hand in Gifu.
One main gateway to Gifu is Nagoya's Central Japan International Airport, where many international lines pass through and which is easily accessible from Gifu. Alternatively, taking the Tokaido Shinkansen Bullet Train, which connects the major cities of Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo, is similarly convenient if coming from elsewhere in Japan (50 minutes from Osaka to Nagoya and 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo to Nagoya). From there, Gifu Station is around a 20-minute train ride from Nagoya Station, while Takayama Station is about 2 hours 20 minutes away. Additionally, Toyama Airport and Komatsu Airport are convenient entry points when making your way to Takayama and Shirakawa-go.
In Gifu, you can appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms in the spring, the green of the mountains and the breeze along the river in the spring, the varied colors of maple leaves in the fall, and pure-white, snowy landscapes in the winter. As you prepare for your travels, make sure that you check on the temperatures and snowfall levels in the places you plan to visit, since there can be quite a difference between the northern (Takayama, etc.) and southern (Gifu, etc.) regions.
Representing spring is the cherry blossom, the embodiment of the Japanese spirit. Witnessing the budding, blossoming, and dancing of the falling petals is truly marvelous, and it is a sight that strikes a chord in the hearts of all who come to see it.
|Takayama Spring Festival||Tarai Boat River Cruise||Nawashiro Cherry Blossoms|
|The Sanno Festival (also known as the Takayama Spring Festival) is held every year on April 14th and 15th. Gorgeously decorated and elaborately designed festival floats are paraded through town, and the karakuri marionette performances, along with the puppets themselves, are also exquisite and should not be missed!||Blessed with an abundance of beautiful, clean water, Ogaki City is known as the "Water Capital." Taking a cruise down the Suimon River, especially when the 100 cherry trees lining the riverbanks are in full bloom, is really something special. The Tarai Boat River Cruise is offered in late March and gives you the unique chance to ride down the river in, essentially, a washbasin! (Based on an old legend)||The two giant Nawashiro cherry trees that are about 400 years old are illuminated when in full bloom, and their reflection in the flooded paddy fields nearby creates a fantastic and breathtaking scene. The cherry blossoms are at their most beautiful in early April.|
Summer is festival season in Japan, and Gifu is no exception, with many annual events during this season. It's also a great time to enjoy the outdoors, taking strolls through the mountains and along Gifu's fantastic rivers.
|Gujo Dance||Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River||Norikura Skyline|
|In the traditional town of Gujo, both locals and travelers from afar join together as one and dance the night away. With the sight of many people in yukata (light kimono) garb and the sound of traditional geta shoes clapping against the ground in sync with the music, the Gujo Dance is an experience not to be missed!||As day turns to night and the flaming beacons that guide their boats are lit, the fishing masters and their trained cormorants unfold the fantastic spectacle of ukai, a graceful, traditional fishing method that has existed for over a millenium.||The Norikura Skyline, easily accessible from Hirayu Hot Spring by bus or taxi, is a road that traverses Mount Norikura up to 3,026 meters above sea level. Mount Norikura is a treasure trove of life, both flora and fauna, and as such is designated as a Special Natural Monument. The Skyline is open from mid-May to late October.|
Gifu has many destinations famous for their beautiful autumn foliage! And at these places, the striking contrast between the brilliant autumn colors and the Japanese architecture makes for an even more stunning photo!
|Oyada Maple Valley||Ena Valley||Gifu Castle|
|Within the grounds of the Oyada Shrine is the Maple Valley, home to around 3,000 maple trees that turn colors brilliantly, particularly during mid- to late-November. The contrast between the colorful leaves and the shrine's exquisite carvings makes this one of the top places to appreciate the beauty of the fall season!||Ena Valley is a must-see location in the autumn time, particularly in early- to mid-November, when the red and yellow of the maple leaves create a mesmerizing reflection in the emerald-green water. Taking in this sight is best enjoyed on a sightseeing boat, from where you can also catch sight of the many unusually-shaped rocks that make the scenery so memorable.||The autumn colors of Mount Kinka and around Gifu Castle at the summit are breathtakingly beautiful, and the scene is made even more so when you look upon the city below in all directions from the castle keep. The leaves are at their most vivid during the month of November.|
Enjoy the winter season by appreciating the fantastic snowy landscapes and participating in a variety of winter sports available!
|UNESCO World Heritage Site
|Takayama Historic District||Skiing and Snow Activities|
|Secluded deep in the mountains is this wonderful village defined by its old houses with deeply-inclined, thatched gassho-zukuri roofs. The roofs demonstrate the wisdom and practicality of the people who built the houses hundreds of years ago in combatting the heavy snowfall that the region gets. With these rare houses and rice fields, Shirakawa-go truly maintains the old, rural atmosphere of a village existing in harmony with the natural environment surrounding it.||Known as a "Little Kyoto," Takayama is famed for its historic streets lined with houses and shops preserved for many hundreds of years. Strolling the town while snacking on local foods, shopping for folk crafts, and tasting the locally-made sake is the best way to enjoy this pleasant destination!||Gifu Prefecture boasts many ski slopes with fantastic, powder snow. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, you can also enjoy other snow-related activities at the Hirugano Kogen Ski Resort. Among these ski resorts, there are ones that are fully prepared to handle foreign customers and foreign languages, so please make your way here to enjoy the winter season!|