From Mie Guidebook
Gifu (岐阜) is the capital and largest city in Gifu Prefecture. Though at the prefectural level Mie has the higher population, Gifu City has a significantly larger population than any city in all of Mie and is thus a major city.
Historically, it was a major fashion center as well as one of the old Nakasendo's biggest inn towns.
Getting There from Mie
Meitetsu is to southern Gifu-ken as Kintetsu is to northern Mie-ken. Thus, from Nagoya Station, you have two options: JR or Meitetsu. Both run basically the exact same route between Nagoya and Gifu City and are similar in price, though JR tends to be a bit on the cheaper and faster side.
The trip from Nagoya to Gifu should take approximately 25-30 minutes. Walking between the JR and Meitetsu stations takes less than five minutes.
Getting around Town
Gifu has good bus service running out of both stations. These can take you to all of the main places you'll be looking to go.
For those that want more mobility, the city government funds a fabulous rental cycle system. For just ¥100, you can explore the town via bike instead of walking or busing. The system is fairly new and the bikes are in very good condition. The city has great sidewalks and a number of covered shopping streets so getting around is safe and easy.
You can pick up a bike out the south exit of JR Gifu Station. Turn left out the exit of the station, the bike racks and rental building are at the far end of the area in front of the station. Bikes can be kept overnight, however be aware that whatever day you return the bikes, it must be done by 7:00pm.
You can reach the Nagara Bridge where most of the major tourist areas are in about 25 minutes on bike.
Things to See
Nagara Bridge area
Many of Gifu's main sights are located in the same immediate part of town, straight north of downtown, near the Nagara River. A useful landmark when navigating is the Nagara Bridge (長良橋 nagara bashi): Google map
- Cormorant Fishing (鵜飼 ukai)
- This is Gifu's main tourist draw. It is one of the only places in Japan (and perhaps the world) where this traditional type of fishing is still done – albeit largely for demonstration purposes only. Takes place every night from May 11th through October 15th. There is a special boat you can ride to get the best view of the fishing, otherwise you can get a pretty good view from the Nagara-bashi.
- Gifu Castle (岐阜城 gifu jō)
- Small castle but very impressive for the fact that is located at the top of an actual mountain (329m), unlike most which are just on small hills. Gives a truly commanding view of not just Gifu City but the entire Mino Plain, all the way to Ōgaki in the west, Kuwana (Mt. Tado) in the south, Nagoya in the southwest, and Inuyama in the east. Very few castles in Japan boast such a view, and this is exactly why Oda Nobunaga liked it so much. Castle admission: ¥200.
- Hiking and ropeway are your two options of getting up to the castle. Ropeway costs ¥1050 round-trip. Both the hiking trails and the ropeway are accessed via Gifu Park.
- Mt. Kinka (金華山 kinka zan)
- The 329m mountain which provides the base for Gifu Castle. Being fairly short, it makes for a nice short hike. There are two paths up the mountain, one that wraps around and is pretty easy, and one that is a little more grueling but goes straight up the slope. Regardless of the path, allow about an hour for the hike. There is also a ropeway up the mountain.
- Gifu Park (岐阜公園 gifu kōen)
- Park with a small garden that serves as the gateway to the castle. There are a couple of museums and a nice tea house as well.
- Nagara River Fireworks (長良川花火大会 nagara gawa hanabi taikai)
- The largest fireworks show in the entire Tokai region. Held on a Saturday at the very end of July or very beginning of August. Arrive as early as possible, as by the time the show starts all the seats will be gone. Fireworks start at 7pm. Extra buses up to Nagara-bashi are in service on the day of the event.
Food and Drink
Shopping streets radiate out from Meitetsu Gifu Station and feature an impressive selection of foods.
Features the standard selection of business hotels, and there is a collection of love hotels just southwest of JR Gifu Station. A few manga cafes as well. Not much in the way of hostels though.
- Gifu is the gateway for trains and buses heading up to Takayama and the Hida region.
- One of Japan's Three Great Onsens, about two-thirds of the way to Takayama.
- Home to many diverse tourist attractions, this northern Aichi city is only 30 minutes east of Gifu on the Meitetsu.
- Sekigahara (関ヶ原)
- History buffs will recognize Sekigahara as the location of Japan's great East vs. West battle that led to the rise of Tokugawa Shogunate in Tokyo and decline of Kyoto and Osaka. A 30 minute ride west of Gifu on the JR Tōkaidō Main Line will get you to Sekigahara Station, and from there the battlefield as well as a museum are about 15 minutes north of the station on foot.
- Under 30 minutes from Gifu.
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