Ogaki – The City of Water in Gifu
Ogaki is a historic water city located in Gifu Prefecture in central Japan only about 30 minutes by JR train from Nagoya, Japan’s fourth-largest city. This laid back city is known as the "City of Water" due to the Suimon River with its canals forming a ring around the old part of town to protect Ogaki Castle. Ogaki is also famous for its fresh spring water with numerous natural springs dotted around the city. Here are some of the amazing things you can try in Ogaki City.
Visit Ogaki Castle
Historic Ogaki Castle served as the base for Ishida Mitsunari before he left for the greatest samurai battle in history at Sekigahara in 1600 against Tokugawa Ieyasu. The national treasure original castle keep was destroyed in World War II with the current castle keep a 1959 reconstruction. Inside you will find a museum with information about the castle and the Battle of Sekigahara. The castle is located in Ogaki Park which is one of Gifu’s famous cherry blossoms spots in spring.
Ride a Traditional Tarai-bune Boat
The best way to explore Ogaki is with a leisurely ride on its waterways on a traditional tarai-bune boat. These wooden tubs slowly float down the Suimon River, which was once the outer moat of Ogaki Castle. A boatsman in period costume will expertly highlight all the interesting spots along the way as they row the boat with their long wooden poles just like a gondola in Venice. The only time you can experience this authentic adventure is during spring. The best time is during cherry blossom season when the cherry blossoms form a picturesque tunnel along the river.
Learn About the Famous Haiku Poet Matsuo Basho
The Oku no Hosomichi Haiku Journey Museum is a modern museum dedicated to Japan’s greatest haiku master, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), who made an epic journey on foot from Edo (Tokyo) to the northern Tohoku Region, known as The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Oku no Hosomichi). The Edo period haiku master’s journey ended in Ogaki in 1689 and hence this museum which highlights his travels and the places he visited along the way, as well as other historic figures connected to Ogaki.
Try Japan’s Hardest Senbei
Miso-iri senbei is a traditional Ogaki confectionary which has been made for over 150 years. These tasty treats are made with miso bean paste and are hand-grilled with the recipe being passed down from generation to generation. These Ogaki senbei are folded four times which gives them their hard rock-like texture, and fame as the hardest in all of Japan. You can try them at Tanakaya Senbei Sohonke, located near JR Ogaki Station.
Refresh with a Cool Drink of Natural Spring Water
Ogaki certainly lives up to its name as the “City of Water” with pristine natural springs dotted throughout the city. Locals can enjoy this cool refreshing water for free and actually collect it with plastic bottles to take home and enjoy. You too can enjoy this faintly sweet spring water by visiting one of the springs with "Ogaki no Wakimizu" at Kagano Hachiman Shrine a close walk from JR Ogaki Station.
Explore Nearby Enko-ji Temple
Enko-ji Temple is one of Gifu’s oldest temples and a famous spot for bright red-colored maple leaves in fall, which peak from early to mid-November. This ancient Buddhist temple is located in Aohaka-cho in Ogaki City with its main hall retaining tablets and stone pagodas that constitute the family cemetery of the Genji Clan.