Gifu City is a beautiful historic city located in Gifu Prefecture in the very heart of Japan. It is full of history and unique culture and is blessed to be surrounded by stunning natural beauty and landscapes.
The city is well known in Japan as a historic place due in part to the famous ukai (cormorant fishing) which has taken place on the pristine Nagara River now for over 1300 years. Gifu City was also home to the famous 16th century samurai warlord Oda Nobunaga, who made Gifu Castle his base on his mission to unify Japan during the Warring States period.
Gifu City is easily accessible from major cities in Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, and should be a must see destination on any visit to central Japan.
The following is a list of some of the many must see sights and attractions in Gifu City.
1. The Gifu Shohoji Daibutsu (Great Buddha of Gifu)
Photo : Tomo on FlickrThe Great Buddha of Gifu in Shohoji Temple is one of the “Three Great Buddha’s” of Japan along with the Great Buddha’s of Kamakura and Todaiji in Nara. It is a very unique statue as it is a dry lacquer Buddha moulded from wood, bamboo and clay, and covered in Japanese washi paper with sutras. It is finished in gold leaf and is the largest Buddha in Japan made by this technique.
The Great Buddha is located a very short distance from Gifu Park and entry costs 200 yen.
2. Gifu Castle
Photo: ghostinkishou on FlickrGifu Castle is a picturesque castle located atop Mount Kinka in Gifu City. You can enjoy a leisurely one hour climb to the top of the mountain, or take a cable car from Gifu Park to the top in around 3 minutes.
A fortress was first established at the top of Mount Kinka in the 13th century and was subsequently ruled by various samurai warlords including Dosan Saito and Oda Nobunaga.
The current castle is a concrete reconstruction built in 1956. You can enjoy displays in the castle’s exhibition halls and spectacular views from the observation gallery on the top floor.
The castle is both a symbol of Gifu City and the history of the city where the unification of Japan started during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Period).
3. Kawaramachi Town
Kawamachi Town is a spot where you can soak up some of the atmosphere of old Gifu. Located a short walk from Gifu Castle/Gifu Park, it is like entering a different period of time with traditional wooden buildings and lattice doors. The traditional neighbourhood contains many historical buildings dating from the Edo/Meiji period of Japan.
Here you can find traditional local crafts such as Gifu Shibu Uchiwa (fans), Gifu Wagasa (Japanese umbrellas) and Gifu Chochin (paper lanterns) made with Mino washi paper, as well as traditional Japanese sweets shops and restaurants. It is a great place to pick up a souvenir or two from your visit.
4. Gifu Park
Photo : Mike Raybourne on FlickrGifu Park which is embraced by both Mount Kinka and the famous Nagara River is a popular place to relax and enjoy all the seasons in Japan. The park contains many attractions including Gifu Castle, the ruins of Oda Nobunaga’s palace, a Three-storied Pagoda, Japanese style Tea Room, the Gifu City Museum of History, and the Nawa Insect Musuem to name just a few.
The park is a popular spot in both Autumn for the stunning fall foliage and Spring for the beautiful cherry blossoms.
Photo : Ryan Latta on Flickr
5. Inaba Jinja Shrine
Photo : Yuya Tamai on FlickrInaba Jinja Shrine is Gifu’s oldest and most famous Shinto shrine. It is located at the base of Mount Kinka about a 10 minute walk from Gifu Park. The shrine is believed to have been established more than 1900 years ago, and is truly an impressive place. Inaba Jinja is a popular spot in spring for the cherry blossoms with the road leading up to the shrine (Inaba-dori) lined on both sides by weeping cherry blossoms (shidare-zakura).
Gifu City is located a short 20 minute train ride away from Nagoya, and is about 2 hours away from Tokyo via Shinkansen and JR train from Nagoya. To reach Gifu City take a JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya, followed by a JR train from Nagoya to Gifu Station via the Tokaido Line.