Gifu Prefecture, located in central Japan, is a landlocked prefecture offering a variety of landscapes and travel opportunities. Gifu is a good mix of countryside and city life and is easily accessible from Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya.
The capital, Gifu City, has something for everyone. Those who like nature and outdoor activities will enjoy Kinka Mountain and Nagara River. Mt. Kinka can be seen from almost anywhere within Gifu city. The mountain has two different trails leading to the top (easy and advanced) as well as a ropeway for those who prefer not to hike or climb. The easy trail is a small hike, whereas the advanced course is more of an actual climb requiring good upper-arm strength.
Once the top is reached, there is the castle, Squirrel Village, a snack stand and a restaurant offering a view of the city. The museum is inside the castle and all written descriptions are in Japanese. However, the fee to enter is only 500YEN so it might be worth taking a look. For 200YEN, one can enter the Squirrel Village and hand-feed the squirrels. Since squirrels aren’t common in the wild in Japan, many Japanese people find Squirrel Village an exciting opportunity. Squirrel Village is opened throughout the year and the hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The snack stand offers drinks, light snacks such as ice cream as well as noodles. The restaurant serves hot meals and has a seating capacity of 100. The view it offers is quite breathtaking.
Photo : MariNaomi on Flickr
Nagara River is rated one of the cleanest and nicest rivers in Japan. It stretches throughout Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture and beyond. The shores of the river are used for BBQs on holidays, and many elderly men gather to fish on weekends. Nagara River is a great spot for attending festivals and viewing fireworks. Many hotels and Japanese-styled inns line the river offering great views and amazing seafood. Many companies and schools choose to have their drinking parties in these hotels. The main attraction at Nagara River is cormorant fishing or Ukai. This is a traditional way of night fishing, using torches and birds. There are only a few Usho, the fishermen who practice this tradition, fishing in Nagara River. The Usho use the birds to get the fish directly from the water. Boat rides, where one can view these fishing practices, are available during the Ukai season. For more information about this traditional way of fishing and other activities available in Gifu, please click this link : http://www.gifucvb.or.jp/en/index.html
For those who aren’t into outdoor activities, Gifu City offers two malls. Masa21 is a small mall minutes from Gifu University. It has a decent arcade, a Kaldi International food store and some clothing stores. This mall doesn’t offer too much, but is a good place to kill time for those living at or near the University. MALera is a slightly larger mall northwest of Gifu Station. This mall offers many clothing stores such as Gap, Old Navy, Forever21 and many Japanese brands. The entertainment area has a theatre, a wall of gashapons, an arcade, bowling center and pool tables. MALera has many restaurants and even Krispy Kreme donuts! Gifu City also has some amazing restaurants. Every area in Japan has great restaurants, but Gifu City just seems to have more than their fair share. Soul Spice with their out-of-this-world soup curry, Turquoise serving up their unique Hawaiian Pancakes and Turkish food, and Furusato a family owned Japanese restaurant with reasonable prices are just a few examples of the amazing restaurants Gifu has to offer. Cafes and bakeries are also scattered throughout the city, offering delicious sweets.
Photo : Yuya Tamai on Flickr
Gifu City is a great place to visit, whether or not it’s for a quick detour or a planned visit. Actually, the same can be said for the whole prefecture.