Located in the centre of Honshu, Gifu is a large landlocked prefecture in Japan’s alps. A large part of Gifu is rural and home to a rich natural heritage; its traditions, culture and craftsmanship, handed down through many generations.
Gifu has a precious inheritance that has been kept alive by its inhabitants today. Thus, this under-the-radar prefecture is ideal for the slower-paced explorer looking to embrace slow and meaningful travel. Here are some of the best ways to explore the rural side of Gifu.
Create like an artist in Yoro Tenmei Hantenchi
Yoro Tenmei Hantenchi offers an incomparable experience for those looking for a remote artistic spot in Gifu. The conceptual art garden of the park features interactive art structures. Huge exhibits are placed in an open-air ground, each of them is specialised with unique features which enable visitors to discover the meanings hidden in the design. The park was designed by a famous artist Arakawa Shusaku with the goal to deliver several messages through direct interaction with artworks.
Bathe in a famous hot spring resort in Gero
Gero Onsen is a famous hot spring resort located in the mountainous area of Gero and is considered one of the three most remarkable hot springs in Japan. The hot spring resort dates back around 1,000 years ago and became a popular spot in the Edo era. The hot spring water of Gero Onsen is mild and is recommended for people with sensitive skin. Public foot baths are also available for free around the town making it easier for tourists to try an onsen for the first time. Other attractive spots in the area for visitors to enjoy include visiting Gero Onsen Museum, exhibiting historical documents of the town’s history as an onsen resort and Onsenji Temple. Climb up 173 stone steps for gorgeous tranquil views of the valley below.
Hop on a sightseeing boat in Ena Valley
Ena Gorge is a scenic area whose lake was initially formed because of the construction of a dam downriver. It is a river valley where, in the spring, cherry blossoms bloom in full force, and in the autumn, the cliffs blaze red and yellow with leaves. Take a 30-minute boat cruise around the river valley and enjoy the scenery with the added feature of mysteriously shaped rocks dotted around. One of the best places around Ena Gorge is the hot spring bath where visitors can enjoy a view of the valley. The area is also famous for chestnuts and, therefore, for the Japanese sweet called kurikinton, a delicacy made from chestnuts.
Get above the clouds on Shin-Hotaka Ropeway
The best way to get a bird’s eye view of a place is to get above the clouds. Shin-Hotaka Ropeway is Japan’s first double-decker ropeway with a total length of 3,200ｍ and an altitude of 1,039ｍ. From the observation platform, located at 2,156ｍ, visitors can enjoy the mountains of the Northern Japan Alps, including Mount Nishi-Hotaka, Mount Yarigatake and Mount Kasagatake.
In wintertime, the Sengokuenchi Nature Park at the top of the mountain becomes a “snow corridor,” with paths surrounded on both sides by three-meter-high giant snow walls. The entire area is painted white and takes on an air of mystery that should not be missed. Each season offers something different, from alpine fauna and flora and flowers to vivid autumn foliage, which makes the views from Shin-Hotaka Ropeway fascinating throughout the year.