The roots of Japanese culture can be found among the rivers and mountains of Gifu Prefecture, in the heart of Japan. Between the country's big cities, Gifu is a crossroads where Japan’s best traditions come together and are passed down through the generations.
The Grand Outdoors
The heart of Japan is rich in natural treasures. Pristine rivers clear as glass flow from the Japan Alps and feed overflowing greenery. Here you can experience the grandeur of Gifu’s rice terraces, the ancient Nakasendo trade route, and the 200-plus waterfalls of Hida-Osaka.
Arts, crafts, and practices that represent the spirit of Japan typify Gifu. Traditions like cormorant fishing techniques handed down for over 1,300 years, or ji-kabuki, a rural analog of the better-known kabuki of the city. The area’s many regional crafts have conquered time to remain practiced and relevant to the people even today. From paper-making to swordsmithing to ceramics, the works of Gifu are a timeless window into Japan’s soul.
Away from the big cities, Gifu is a place people still live in harmony with nature, and maintain a way of life inherited from their ancestors. The concept of “satoyama” where nature meets civilization is apparent everywhere. From the gassho-zukuri houses of Shirakawa-go, where people live and work in a sustainable community, to the waterways of Gujo Hachiman still used by locals daily, the living culture of Gifu is very much in evidence and ready to be experienced.
The literal and metaphorical heart of Japan, Gifu’s position connecting east and west via the old Nakasendo highway has given rise to a rich diversity of culture and traditions still preserved to this day, awaiting your discovery.
See iconic sights like the historic village of Shirakawa-go, and the famous hot spring spas of Gero Onsen, and less well-known gems off the beaten track. Gujo Hachiman is a quaint castle town of innumerable waterways. Sekigahara was the site of one of the most momentous battles of the samurai era and has many historic landmarks. Taijimi, Seki, Mino, and Ogaki each have their unique charms and specialist crafts to experience when you visit.
After having their fill of the country’s metropolises and former capitals, more and more travelers feel the irresistible pull of Japan’s heartland. Far from the soaring skyscrapers and grand temples, you too can find the quiet elegance of Japan waiting for you in Gifu.