Experience authentic Japan in this prefecture in central Honshu
Japan 2019 Travel Guide: Gifu
Have an unforgettable experience and learn about the country’s traditional culture in the middle of the Japanese Alps…
The Culture Vulture
Ancient Japan continues to thrive in Gifu today. Located in the heart of Japan, the Gifu Prefecture flourished as a centre for trade and travel – and to see what life was like 300 years ago you can visit Shirakawa-go. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a traditional Japanese village located in Takayama where you will find farmhouses with steep, thatched roofs.
Gifu has long been known for its high-quality Japanese swords and at swordsmith studios like Asano Kajiya (asanokajiya.com/en) you can make your own kitchen knife utilising techniques that have been passed down for 700 years.
At the Terada Washi Studio (govoyagin.com/pages/gifu) you can do a workshop in traditional Japanese papermaking. Other hands-on activities include pottery and indigo-dyeing.
Make sure you sample Hida beef, a title given to only the best-quality Japanese Black cattle bred in the Hida region of the prefecture. The meat is known for its rich flavour.
A speciality in northern Gifu is hoba-yaki, which is succulent Hida beef grilled with fresh vegetables and a savoury miso paste on a large Japanese magnolia leaf.
There are also 50 sake breweries in the prefecture, using water from the area’s many rivers, so be sure to check them out.
If you’re interested in taking a peek into everyday Japanese life, go on a cycle tour with the Satoyama Experience (satoyama-experience.com), where you can ride through rice paddies and farming villages in the countryside with an English-speaking tour guide.
To bask in Japan’s majestic nature, head to Hida Osaka Falls, where you can hike around a treasure trove of waterfalls and streams that flow through the forest.
You can also hike up Mount Kinka to get views of Gifu City and the Nagara River – and you’ll be rewarded with the sight of Gifu Castle at the top.
The Party Animal
The World Cup coincides with the Takayama Festival on 9-10 October. Every year more than 200,000 people from across Japan and the rest of the world come to celebrate.
The festival – safeguarded by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage – is one of Japan’s three most beautiful festivals and showcases a high level of craftsmanship with exquisite festival floats parading through the streets of Takayama.
For more travel information…
How to get there
Take the bullet train from Tokyo to Nagoya (one hour, 40 minutes) and from there it’s a 20-minute train to Gifu. It’s a two-hour train from Gifu to Takayama. The nearest airports are Toyama, Komatsu and Central Japan.