Step into the bizarre world of Yoro Park — the “Site of Reversible Destiny”, the park was designed by famous artist Shusaku Arakawa and poet Madeline Gins. Architecture buffs can take pleasure in admiring the unique and whimsical structures that were designed to push the boundaries of the present world. The bright green concave structures atop the gray stone perimeter wall make the facility resemble a fairytale or a Studio Ghibli film.
Yoro – Ogaki
Ogaki – Gifu
The town of Gifu is a quick 20 minutes from Nagoya via the JR Tokaido Line train. A quiet and unassuming town, the Gifu area has a plethora of hidden charms. First off, explore Gifu Castle, the base of Nobunaga Oda; who was one of the country’s best military leaders. The impressive castle building is atop a large hill, which is accessed via the scenic Mt. Kinka Ropeway ride. Don’t forget to take a stroll around Gifu Park to admire the lush foliage and enjoy its peaceful surroundings. Gifu is also home to a Great Buddha Statue, or Daibutsu. Gifu’s Daibutsu was fashioned out of a large gingko tree which formed the base of its wooden skeletal structure. It is also the largest lacquer Daibutsu in all of Japan.
Enjoy the uniquely relaxing atmosphere of walking around the old-timey streets of the Kawaramachi district. Despite its rustic exterior, Gifu is well-equipped with restaurants, shops and other amenities. Gifu is also known for ayu sweetfish — that is sold roasted and even as a traditional Japanese sweet. For those visiting Gifu between May and October, make sure to stay till night time to catch the local fishermen performing “Ukai” — an ancient fishing method using flaming torches and cormorants to catch sweetfish. This 1300-year old tradition is carried out only in Gifu, so make sure to check it out.
Hébergement à Gifu
Gare de Gifu – Oyana (小屋名 dans la ville de Seki)
Seki City, located in the middle basin of the Nagara River, is regarded as one of the world’s three major cutlery centers, together with Solingen in Germany and Sheffield in the UK. In the 1300s, blade forging in Seki already had been established. Its reputation became widespread among samurai worriers, who said that “Seki blades have such a sharp edge. They never break or bend.” To learn more about the forging and use of Seki Blades, head to the Seki Hamono Museum. Here, you can find out how the local swordsmiths manufactured these traditional blades, which also includes everyday kitchen tools such as knives and nail clippers. Visit their in-house Seki Yoshihide Brand store to bring home a cutting-edge souvenir.
Oyana – Mino-Ogurakouenmae
Once a bustling merchant district, Mino City was famed for their production of Mino Washi. Mino washi is a type of traditional paper that was developed due to the rich nature in Mino, such as the clear-water streams of the Nagaragawa River and Itadorigawa River. The success of Mino Washi allowed the city to build and retain many of their Udatsu raised walls, which were a sign of status of the wealthy back in the Edo period. Now, towns with large numbers of Udatsu are few, making Mino City deemed as an official Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. One of the most significant buildings in Mino City is the Former Imai Family Residence. Designated as a Municipal Cultural Property, visitors can take a rare look inside this grand property and imagine how their life was like back in the old days.
With a long history of over 1,300 years, Mino Washi’s appeal is that the thin and consistent Mino washi paper has properties of toughness and durability while maintaining a soft and delicate texture. Thus, Mino Washi is also used for several art exhibits and displays, such as the one in the Mino Washi “Akari” Art Gallery. Visit the gallery to see the washi art pieces presented as part of a light sculpture illumination, which look especially beautiful in photos.
Mino – Gujo Hachiman
Situated near the beautiful Nagara River, a trip to the historic district of Gujo Hachiman makes for a beautiful day out. The town’s representative symbol is Sogi Spring, a source of pure local springwater. Take a walk around the samurai-style houses of Yanagimachi to get a sense of how the locals used to live during the Edo period. Gujo is also known for the Gujo Dance Performance, which is performed live for those who visit the nearby Gujo Hachiman Museum. After enjoying the lively performances, try your hand at making some Japanese replica food samples. The Gujo Hachiman also hosts activities where visitors can make their own lifelike replica food keychains, which are sure to be popular souvenirs to gift your friends and family. Of course, we can’t forget about the iconic Gujo Hachiman Castle. The stone-walled castle was built by Endo Morikazu back in the 1500s. Head upstairs for a breathtaking view of the surrounding city and picturesque mountain landscapes.
Hébergement à Gujo Hachiman
Place du château de Gujo Hachiman – Gujo hachiman IC
Gujo Hachiman IC – Takayama
Once a busy merchant town, the Takayama Historic District retains most of its original buildings and traditional architecture to this day. Now, the district is home to crafts and souvenir stores, as well as food stalls selling local specialties such as mitarashi dango and Hida beef skewers. Takayama Jinya is also known as the Takayama Historical Government House, the only one of its kind remaining in Japan — making it a building of immense historical significance.
Hébergement à Takayama
Takayama – Shirakawa-go
Explore Shirakawa-go, a rustic traditional village deep in the mountainside of Gifu. Famous for its thatched « gassho-style » houses, the snow-capped roofs are a sight to behold in the winter. In 1995, the photogenic village was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover what it’s like on the inside by visiting the Wada Residence, the oldest house in the village. Don’t forget to take a 15-minute hike up to the Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck to enjoy a panoramic view of the village from above.
Shirakawa-go – Gare routière de Takayama Nohi Bus
Takayama – Hida-Furukawa
Gifu is also home to « Little Kyoto », otherwise known as Hida Furukawa town. Experience a quiet traditional town away from the throngs of tourists, hidden away in the Japanese countryside. This riverside town is home to over 1,000 colorful carp fishes that live within the winding canals that run throughout the area. Check out the Mishima Candle Shop, a store that has been making traditional Japanese candles since the Edo period. If you’re lucky enough to visit Hida Furukawa in April, catch the famed Furukawa Festival in action. A vibrant and exciting festival with drum performances, parades and chock-full of the Japanese spirit, the Furukawa Festival is not to be missed. For those who will unfortunately miss the festival — you can also experience it vicariously through the comprehensive displays at the Hida Furukawa Festival Exhibition Hall.
Hida-Furukawa – Takayama
Hébergement à Takayama
Marché du matin (Miyagawa & Jinyamae)
Enjoy a calm morning of shopping and interacting with locals at the Hida Takayama Miyagawa Morning Market. This market was originally conceived hundreds of years in the past as a place where locals could sell their wares. However, during the 19th century it expanded rapidly when local ladies rushed to sell their homegrown fruits and vegetables. This all led to the event being called the « morning market. » Find an array of produce and souvenirs all for sale at this seasonal market where no two stalls are the same. Go back in time and shop like a local of the area, converse with shopkeeps and peruse their wonderful wares.
- Marché du matin (Miyagawa & Jinyamae)
Gare routière de Takayama Nohi Bus – Hirayu Onsen
Hirayu Onsen – Téléphérique de Shinhotaka
Le village thermal Oku-Hida
Escape to the mountains deep within the Japanese Alps to experience a truly magnificent ‘rotenburo’ hot spring. Okuhida Hot Spring Village consists of five different hot spring facilities, all of them combined to make Okuhida have the most open-air springs (rotenburo) across the country. Special winter illuminations are also held in the area, which add to the beauty of the snow-covered landscapes at Okuhida Village. For those who want a bird’s eye view of the Alps, hop aboard Shinhotaka Ropeway’s double-decker cable car. The one-of-a-kind cable car brings you up to 2,156 meters high, where a panoramic Observation Deck allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the grandeur of the Japanese Alps.
- Le village thermal Oku-Hida
Téléphérique de Shinhotaka – Gare routière de Takayama Nohi
Takayama – Gero
La ville thermale de Gero
Gero Hot Spring is one of the three top quality hot springs (onsen) in Japan. Nicknamed “The Water of Beauties”, it’s said that the water in Gero Hot Springs has beautifying qualities that help turn the bathers’ skin as smooth as the water itself. The highlight of Gero Onsen is “Fusenchi”, a huge open-air stone bath located right next to Hida River. Due to the location and it being a mixed bath, bathers must wear bathing suits to enter the hot spring.
- La ville thermale de Gero
Hébergement à Gero
Gero – Mino-Ota
Mino-Ota – Tajimi
Gare de Tajimi – Musée de la mosaïque en céramique de Tajimi
Mino ceramics (Mino yaki) refers to pottery made mainly in eastern Gifu Prefecture in the towns of Tajimi, Toki, Mizunami, and Kani. The peaceful town of Tajimi is Japan’s “pottery town”, the center of production for Mino-yaki ceramics in Japan. With over 1,300 years of history, the city is proud of its heritage and expertise in ceramics. The Tajimi Mosaic Tile Museum has an astounding 10,000 exhibits dedicated to the subject, where visitors can learn more about tile production. The museum building itself is also a sight to behold, an oddly-shaped architectural wonder that looks two-dimensional from the front. Museum visitors can also take home unique handmade ceramic souvenirs as a memento of their trip to Tajimi.
Tajimi – Nagoya