When talking about visiting Japan, you might think of Tokyo or Osaka where life moves very fast. However, if you’re looking for a calmer vibe in a less-populated prefecture, Gifu is the perfect place to visit.
We at travel360.com jumped at the opportunity to visit Gifu, where we took our time to enjoy the onsen (hot spring) and took a walk in our yukata. We also got to bask in its nature, and marvelled in Gifu’s traditional craft and culture.
If you’re also looking to enjoy what Gifu has to offer, here are some places to start:
Craft and culture in Gifu
1. Kobeigama Kiln (Pottery Museum)
One thing we admire about Japanese culture is how much care they put into their vocations, and how they pass the craftsmanship over generations. At Kobeigama Kiln, we saw such fiery passion in Ryotaro Kato, son of the 7th master poster Kobe Kiln. Ryotaro showed us ceramic arts that took inspiration from all over the world, particularly the works of his renowned grandfather that focuses on Persian art.
2. Making food replicas
If you have seen food replicas on display in restaurants, you might be surprised that they don’t actually contain real food! Instead, they are made from toy-like material that resembles said food, and a lot of wax. In Gujo city, we saw the process of making food these realistic food replicas and tried our hands in making it ourselves.
3. Cormorant fishing on Nagara River
Cormorant fishing is a traditional method of catching fish, where cormorant birds catch and store the fish in their beak before giving them to the fishermen. This practice has been around for the past 1,300 years ago and is now held every night in Gifu from May to October. If you’re watching this cormorant fishing, you can opt for a boat that serves dinner for an extra fee.
4. Mino-washi museum (Japanese Paper Museum)
Mino-washi is an old method of making Japanese paper, which interestingly has also been around for the past 1,300 years ago. We had the experience of making the paper ourselves in the museum. We also got to see many interesting crafts that were created from miro-washi paper, not unlike paper-mâché, but taken to the next level.
5. Cutler Sanshu (Knife and Katana Museum)
The last museum that we visited was Cutler Sanshu museum, where we learned about the many types of katana. Making katana can take a long time, some up to two years to complete. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait for the entire process from start to finish, but we did get a chance to knock the metal while it was still forging.
Nature and sightseeing in Gifu
1. Ena Valley
We started our sightseeing trip with a boat ride along Ena Valley, admiring the scenic view of the river and unique rock formations.
A walk down the cobblestone streets of Magome-juku teleported us back to the Edo period, hundreds of years ago. Back in the days Magome-juku served as a post town, where travellers stopped for lodging before continuing their journey. This town has been recreated to give visitors an authentic atmosphere of olden Japan, while at the same still is very lively with locals who still live there.
3. Hida-Osaka Falls
Hida-Osaka has 216 waterfalls with 14 different hiking trails that you can choose, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Aside from the majestic view of the waterfall, we were also impressed by how crystal-clear the water was even on the riverside. The water was so clean that locals often drank it straight from the spring source.
Other than Magome-juku with its Edo period feel, there was also the village of Shirakawa-go that still preserves its traditional architecture. The houses in this village follow the gasshō-zukuri building style, where they use layers of straw for the roof so that the houses can withstand heavy snow.
We ended our trip in Gifu with a walk along Kamikochi, where we witnessed the sights of Mt. Yakedake, one of the most breathtaking views we have ever seen. Due to our packed schedule, we only managed to enjoy the scenery for just a little while, but you can take your time hiking by the forests and the riverside.