We started our trip from Chubu International Airport. There is a direct train from the airport to Meitetsu Nagoya station. In Nagoya station, we use Takayama-Hokuriku JR Pass (THJR) to redeem our ticket to Gifu station, as well as for other JR tickets that we are going to use for the rest of our trip.
Gifu (岐阜市) is a city located in the south-central portion of Gifu Prefecture, Japan, and serves as the prefectural capital. The city has played an important role in Japan’s history because of its location in the middle of the country. During the Sengoku period, various warlords, including Oda Nobunaga, used the area as a base in an attempt to unify and control Japan.
The first thing you notice as you step outside from JR Gifu Station is the Golden Statue of Nobunaga in front of the station.
We took a cab to the historical cultural street of Kawaramachi (川原町). It is a street in Gifu City, where you can see traditional wooden houses from the Meiji period and beyond. We had our lunch at Kawaramachi Izumiya, a restaurant famous for its full course of Ayu fish (fresh water fish caught in Nagara River).
Ayu fish, also known as sweet fish, is is a little fish that swims in the cleanest of rivers in Japan. Salt-grilled ayu is regarded as the king of ayu dishes. The grill fully draws out the flavor and rich taste of ayu. The deliciousness of the dish depends not only on the freshness of the ayu but also on the skill and experience of the chef. Skillfully grilled ayu captivates those who eat it with its soft meat and savory aroma.
Our full course lunch started with some unique appetisers made using seasonal vegetables and different parts of an ayu fish.
Ayu Ramen is another specialty here at Kawaramachi Izumiya. It offers an unique, comforting bowl of simple broth, thin noodles, and charbroiled freshwater trout.
Address: 20, Motohamacho, Gifu 500-8007, Gifu Prefecture
Phone Number: +81 58-263-6788
Right after lunch, we walked around Kawaramachi with the help of a local volunteer guide who speaks only Japanese. He gave us a lot of background stories on Gifu. If you can understand Japanese, feel free to approach any of the volunteer guides on the Gifu park ground, available on Saturdays and Sundays. Else, you can also enjoy a stroll along the historical streets of Kawaramachi.
Just next to Kawaramachi Izumiya, there is a small temple called Koshin-do that is very popular amongst the locals and couples because they have a heart shaped well here.
A pocket of traditional wooden houses are still standing in the Kawaramachi (川原町) neighbourhood between Gifu Park and the river.
There is a Juroku Bank ATM here, a stark contrast of old and new.
Today you will find many traditional shops there selling uchiwa (fans) and Japanese sweets.
We also enjoyed dipping our hands in the free hand hot springs spa located outside “18” Hotel and Hot Springs.
Gifu has a long history of paper production and is well-known for its high quality paper umbrellas and paper lanterns. I was holding a USD 300 handmade umbrella here.
During summer/spring months, you can experience Ukai (cormorant fishing) on Nagara River. Ukai is a traditional method of catching small Japanese trout by manipulating seabirds from the flat-bottom fishing boat.
From the Kawaramachi area, we crossed the Nagara River and walked to Gifu Park.
Gifu Koen (Gifu Park) in Gifu city, is a public park at the foot of Mt. Kinka. Gifu Castle stands on the top of Mt. Kinka.
We were lucky to catch the last glimpse of autumn scenery in Gifu (it was early December).
From Gifu Park, Mt. Kinka Ropeway takes you to the top of Mt. Kinka in 3 minutes.
Mar 16 – May 11 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
May 12 – Oct 16 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Oct 17 – Mar 15 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
New Year’s Day 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Panorama night view: Golden Week holidays, everyday from the end of July through the end of August, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from September through mid-October
- Fare: Adults – 1080 yen / round trip, 620 yen / one way; Children: 540 yen / round trip, 280 yen / one way
During the ride, we got to enjoy the dynamic primeval forests covering Mt. Kinka, the beautiful stream of Nagara River, and the cityscape of Gifu.
Located on the top of the mountain are a shop and a viewing restaurant, as well as the Squirrel Village where you can play with squirrels.
Just like Gifu city, Gifu Castle is associated with Oda Nobunaga.
Gifu Castle was built by Lord Nikaido, who governed this region back at the beginning of the 13th century. In the 16th century, the daimyo Saito Dosan became the governor, and he carried out repairs to the castle and built the donjon. The Saito family was subsequently overthrown by Oda Nobunaga, and its name was changed to Gifu Castle after Nobunaga moved in. It was destroyed by fire in 1943 in WWII. The existing four-tiered donjon was built in 1956. It houses the local museum and the top floor is an observatory. The site of the rice storehouse and the stone walls remind us of how the place would have looked when the castle was built.
Address: Tenshukaku, Kinkazan, Gifu-shi, Gifu
Admission Fee: 200 yen
Mount Kinka Ropeway
Take one of the following buses at JR Gifu Station or Meitetsu Gifu Station to “Gifu Park/ Gifu City Museum of History”. (Takes 15 min. 210 yen/one way)
- Gifu Bus “N80 Bound for Takatomi”
- Other Gifu Bus numbered “N32” to “N86” bound for Gifu Park /Takatomi direction
- “City Loop-line” Counterclockwise direction
From the observation gallery, one gets to enjoy the magnificent landscape of the area, including the clear waters of the Nagara River below against a backdrop of mountain ranges, and Ise Bay to the south.
After spending a meaningful half a day in Gifu City, we took the Hida limited express train to Takayama station (included in the Takayama-Hokuriku JR Pass).
Omiyage from Gifu prefecture – kurikinton (chestnut dessert) and ichiro sponge cake.
Next up: Takayama and Shirakawago!