Skip to navigation Skip to main content

Gifu Travel Guide Interesting locations, memorable experiences

located right in the middle of the country, Gifu Prefecture traditionally served as a gateway between the east and the west of Japan. Famous for the Battle of Sekigahara, which took place in 1600 in Gifu's capital city of the same name, the area played an important role in changing modern Japanese history. Only 2 hours by train from Tokyo, the prefecture has plenty to offer and is the perfect place to go exploring while you are on a golf break.

Image: Shirakawa-go by David Sanz

Things to do

The most popular places to visit in Gifu Prefecture are Gifu City, Takayama, Shirakawa, and Gero.

Gifu City is famous for cormorant fishing, so make sure not to miss the spectacle when in town. You can find the fishing masters and their trained cormorant birds along the Nagaragawa River performing this 1,300-year-old tradition every evening between May and October.

Takayama is a beautiful small town in the mountains. Nicknamed "little Kyoto", the city is famous for its narrow streets and wooden houses dating back to the Edo Period.

Not far from Takayama City is Shirakawa-go, a collection of small villages located deep in Gifu’s mountains that have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historical village is worth visiting all year round but especially beautiful in winter, when large amounts of snow cover the little farmhouses.

Gero is a city best known for its high-quality hot springs, which attract more than one million visitors every year. Don't miss out on relaxing in one of the best hot spring resorts in all of Japan!

Image: Gassho-style House in Shirakawa-go by Toshihiro Gamo

Flavors of Gifu

Gifu Prefecture has not only a lot to offer when it comes to traditional history and culture; the local cuisine is also noteworthy. Your visit to the area is not complete until you try some of these local specialties.

Along with the more famous Kobe and Matsusaka beef, Hida beef from Gifu is one of the best that Japan has to offer. The delicious, A grade beef can be found in the Hida district of Gifu prefecture, especially in and around Takayama City. Popular dishes include steak, hamburger, yakiniku (table side grilled meat) and more.

If you prefer chicken, make sure to order some Kei-chan chicken. Marinated in miso, soy sauce and garlic before being pan-fried with vegetables, this tasty dish can be found all over the Gujo and Hida districts of Gifu.

Fished from the Nagaragawa River, Ayu is a wild sweetfish from Gifu. Typically grilled over an open flame and sprinkled with salt this local delicacy is a must-try!

Photo: Tasty by Geekly Things

Events & Seasonal Happenings

Two absolute highlights that you shouldn't miss in Gifu Prefecture are the Takayama Festival and the Gujo Odori dance festival.

Dating back around 400 years, the Takayama Festival is celebrated twice a year in spring and autumn. Known to be one of the most beautiful festivals in Japan, it features its own set of about a dozen tall and heavily decorated floats. The spring festival is held at Hie Shrine in the southern half of the old town and the autumn festival is held at Hachiman Shrine in the northern part.

Attracting more than 300,000 visitors from all over the country every year, the Gujo Odori is one of the three most important traditional bon dance festivals in Japan. Held every year in summer, the festival lasts thirty-two nights. Make sure to bring your dancing shoes because the Gujo Odori is not a dance that you watch! Dressed in summer kimonos and traditional wooden clogs, and toasting with rice wine -- locals and visitors come together in a circle and dance the summer nights away!

Photo: Takayama Spring Festival by Laika_one

What to bring back

Gifu has some great souvenirs you can bring back home from your trip. A popular traditional food souvenir Ayu Gashi are Japanese sweets shaped like the famous Ayu sweetfish.  Edamame Manju, are steamed dumplings filled with sweet green soy bean paste.

If you want something that lasts a bit longer, why not bring back one of those realistic plastic food creations that are displayed outside most restaurants in Japan? In Gujo Hachiman, the birthplace of the plastic food industry, you can even make some yourself in a local workshop!

Photo Wonderful plastic food display by David Lisbona

Where to Stay

Gifu Prefecture offers more than a few great places to lodge during your visit.
Hagi Takayama in Takayama city is situated on top of a hill overlooking the city and features a natural hot spring. If you're staying in Gero, the Fugaku Onsen Ryokan offers a free pick-up service from Gero Station and is located in the center of the city. Gifu City also offers plenty of hotels and inns, such as the Comfort Hotel Gifu or the Gifu Grand Hotel.

Photo: Yunoshimakan, Gero by Conor Luddy

Wrap up

Although perhaps not as well-known as other areas in Japan, Gifu is an amazing prefecture with so much to offer. If you appreciate Japanese history and traditional culture, Gifu is full of interesting locations and memorable experiences. Even if you're just looking to have a relaxed weekend with some hot spring soaking time and a delicious first-class beef dinner, Gifu is the place to go. Make sure to check out the area on your next trip!


Getting there

From Tokyo

2 hours by train (Tokyo Station to Gifu Station)

7,5 hours by bus (Shinjuku Station to Gifu Station)

From Osaka

1 hour by train ( Shin-Osaka Station to Gifu Station)

3 hours by bus ( Osaka Namba to Shin Gifu Bus Center


More on Air