Hida Furukawa is a picturesque small town located in Hida City in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture just up the road from its more famous big brother, Hida Takayama. The two towns are very similar in nature and are often called “twins” as both have amazingly well preserved old towns that recreated the atmosphere of the Edo Period (1603-1868).
Hida Furukawa is famous for its beautifully preserved old town with old traditional houses and white walled storehouses along the Seto-gawa water canal. Here, visitors can enjoy feeding the large and colorful carp that swim in the canal, as well as enjoying a stroll along the old streets of the merchant area. The old town recreates the feeling and atmosphere of old Japan and you get the feeling that a samurai warrior might jump out of the next corner.
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The town is also famous for its locally made traditional Japanese candles (warosoku), which have been made here since the Edo Period. You will also find several traditional sake breweries scattered around the town that produce some of the best sake in Japan. The town is normally quite peaceful compared to Hida Takayama, but several times a year tourists descend on its old streets for its spectacular traditional festivals.
The most famous festival is the spring festival, held a week after the Takayama Festival in Hida Takayama. The Furukawa Festival held annually on April 19th and 20th has over 400 years of history, and features beautifully decorated festival floats and spectacular okoshi daiko drum performances. The festival is considered one of Japan’s “Three Great Naked Festivals”.
Another unique festival is the autumn festival called the ‘Paper Lantern Highway of Dreams’ (Bonbori Yume Kaido) held on September 19th and 20th. Over the two days of the festival, 800 paper lanterns decorate the ancient streets of Hida Furukawa. The illumination festival is one of the best paper lantern festivals in Japan, along with the Mino Washi Akari Art Exhibition in Mino City, Gifu Prefecture. The atmosphere is amazing and is like entering a fantasy world full of illusion. Paper lanterns cover the streets of the old town and come in various shapes and sizes, including the popular Japanese cartoon hero, Anpanman.
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Photo: Wikipedia Commons
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You can enjoy the paper lanterns while strolling the streets in the evening and soaking up the amazing atmosphere of the event.
Hida Furukawa is a beautiful old town in Gifu Prefecture that has retained its traditional old charm and traditions, and has somehow remained untouched by the rest of modern Japan. It could be one of the best undiscovered secrets in all of Japan.
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Event: Paper Lantern Highway of Dreams
Address: Ichino-machi, Furukawa-cho, Hida, Gifu Prefecture
Date: September 19th and 20th
ACCESS: From Tokyo take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya Station and transfer to the Hida Wide View Express on the JR Takayama Line to Hida Furukawa Station. The old town is a short 5 minute walk from JR Hida Furukawa Station.