Gifu Prefecture Travel Guide
Your guide to the best things to do and see in Gifu Prefecture
Part of the central Shoryudo region of Japan, Gifu Prefecture is one of Japan’s most beautiful and picturesque regions. Mountain villages dot the region and, in the wintertime, the city of Takayama is popular for skiing. The Nakasendo Trail is a hiking path that stretches through the Gifu Prefecture and the many towns and villages (called “stations”) are popular for nature enthusiasts—especially in the autumn when the Japanese red maple trees change a vibrant array of colors. Gifu Prefecture is a picturesque region—home to many typical Japanese customs and crafts, making it an important destination for those interested in Japanese culture. Start here with my basic Gifu Prefecture travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest Gifu Prefecture travel blogs.
When to Visit
Gifu Prefecture’s central’s location on the main island of Japan—and it’s location in the middle of the route between Kyoto and Tokyo–make it a convenient place to visit year-round. The winter resorts of Takayama are popular for ski holidays, as well as the spa town of Gujo famous for its hot springs. Traditional onsen (springs) are available year-round. Cherry blossoms are throughout the region and great for visits in the spring, while the Japanese autumn colors make the mountainous region equally beautiful in October/November.
Top Things To Do
As a rather sprawling region, there are many great activities and things to do in Gifu Prefecture. Here are some of the top highlights and cities worth visiting.
Gero – Famous for its many onsen (hot springs), Gero is a major touristic hotspot in central Japan. Consider staying in a traditional hotel, a ryokanGero Onsen Suimeikan, for that truly authentic local experience. In a ryokan, you’ll sleep on a mat on the floor, wear sandals in your room and throughout the property and expect to eat in the on-site restaurant on the floor. In Gero, the 5-star hotel hosts large groups of tourists and has three separate hot springs. A mix of modern rooms and traditional decorations makes it a perfect chance to experience traditional Japanese culture in a comfortable and relaxed setting.
Gujo – One of the most picturesque mountain towns in Gifu Prefecture, Gujo is home to the Gujo Hachiman Castle (official website – Japanese only)—a site of historical importance during the era of samurais. In the valley below the castle, you’ll find a beautiful town alongside a small river. The village hosts an annual (traditional) dance festival each year; you’ll find lots of information about the festival in the city’s local museum. Also in Gujo, you’ll find an opportunity to learn about the sample-making business in Japan where restaurants create food samples representing their menu. The Sample Kobo building offers experiences to try your hand at the unique art.
Mino – The small city of Mino in Gifu Prefecture is best known for its historical city street—still in great condition for centuries—and the paper-making craft. Each year, the city hosts an annual contest for locals and internationals to create paper lanterns which you’ll find on display in the city’s museum. More information about the city is available on their official tourism website (in English).
Nakasendo Walking Trail – Perhaps one of the most interesting things to do in the Gifu Prefecture is to experience the Nakasendo walking trail. Once part of the samurai route between Kyoto and Tokyo, the trail offers the opportunity to explore the beautiful nature of the region as well as small towns and mountain villages. The various cities along the route, referred to as stations, offer an insight into local Japanese customs and culture. Walking through these towns, you’ll be able to do everything from sake-tasting (in Nakatsugawa) to sandal-making (website – Japanese only). One of the most beautiful spots along the Nakasendo trail, and a popular destination for tourists, is the small town of Magome (see below).
Magome – Easily accessible via train from the city of Nagoya, Magome is a picturesque town along the Nakasendo trail in Gifu Prefecture. Try the local foods at the small restaurant Juri J for a taste of that local culture! Magome’s panoramic viewpoint offers a beautiful view out over the region below.
Gifu Prefecture Tours
Much of the Gifu Prefecture can be reached conveniently from Nagoya—a central hub along Japan’s high-speed train routes and via international transfer at the Centrair Airport. Tours can be booked from Nagoya to visit Gifu, or the region is accessible via private tours. Several large international tour operators offer multi-day tours through the Gifu Prefecture, especially during the spring and autumn when the trails along the Nakasendo are especially popular. (See some suggested routes for the Nakasendo here.) Take a look at this selection of Gifu Prefecture tours.
LGBT – Gay Gifu Prefecture Travel Guide
Gifu Prefecture is not home to many large cities so the LGBT culture is quite small. The city of Nagoya, an hour or so south of Gifu Prefecture, has a small amount of gay bars. That’s not to say the region isn’t LGBT-friendly. I found gay men living in some of the cities thanks to helpful gay apps.
Gifu Prefecture Hotel Deals
I’ve found that using Booking.com, Agoda.com or Hotels Combined can be really useful for finding last-minute deals.
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