Like the belly button on a human body, Gifu is situated in the middle of Japan and has been around for thousands of years. However, unlike a belly button – unless you have some serious issues – Gifu is covered in greenery. From the plum trees of Bairin Park to the Hagi Falls Nature Park around Matsuo Pond, this is a city filled with nature.
Often referred to as the ‘Heart of Japan’, the heart of Gifu itself is undoubtedly the Nagara River, which runs straight through the middle of the city. Whether watching the fascinatingly bizarre method the locals use to catch fish (known as Cormorant Fishing) or visiting the tallest mountain in the area, Mount Dodo, going to Gifu is definitely more interesting than staring at your belly button!
Gifu's Top 10
10. Nawa Insect Museum If you don’t like bugs, you may want to avoid this attraction.
5. Gifu City Museum of History With many hands-on exhibitions, this museum will let you get a little touchy-feely.
9. Museum of Fine Arts Take in the art of the local area.
4. Shoho-ji Temple The huge Buddha statue is an imposing sight.
8. Gifu City Science Museum This museum includes a planetarium, so it must be a star!
3. Gifu Castle Enjoy the 360-degree views to every corner of the city.
7. Nagaragawa Onsen These hot springs are sure to warm you up.
2. Mount Kinka This symbol of Gifu brings nature to the centre of the city.
6. Gifu Park Relax near the ponds, waterfalls or cherry trees.
1. Cormorant Fishing This unique style of fishing, involving a bird rather than a hook, is a major tourist drawcard.
- Shirakawa-go – The thatched-roof farmhouses of this Gifu World Heritage Site are a must-see.
- Hida Takayama Historic District – The old houses and shops that still line the streets of this ancient town remind visitors of Kyoto.
- Gujo Hachiman Castle – This historic castle is a great example of ancient Japanese architecture, and the manicured grounds are great for a walk.
- Nakatsugawa City – This town has been beautifully restored to keep the feel of the Edo period.
- Ogaki City – This city is famous because it was the last stop on Matsuo Basho’s legendary journey, which is commemorated in several monuments.
Gifu Art & Culture
- Furukawa Festival – This spring festival is held to celebrate the end of winter and features traditional taiko drums.
- Takayama Festival – A spring festival in Gifu that celebrates the coming of the new year, one of the most beautiful in Japan.
- Gujo Folk Music Festival – This summer festival is held in Gujo City and features Gujo and Shirotori folk music.
- Nagara River – Cormorant fishing in which birds are used to catch fish is the most popular attraction on this river.
- Gifu Museum of Fine Arts – Gifu museum features paintings and sculptures from local artists.
- Yanagase Shopping Mall – This mall features a wide array of designer stores and tasty food stalls.
- Mirai Mall – Some fantastic restaurants can be found in this shopping mall.
- Gifu Shopping Mall – The largest mall in Gifu features a top-notch movie theatre and many great restaurants.
- Valor – The best place in Gifu to stock up on local fruits and vegetables or to buy items for the home.
- Yanagase Street – This famous street in Gifu is the best place to find shops selling paper umbrellas.
Gay & Lesbian Gifu
- Gifu Miyako Hotel – This gay-friendly hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms and a central location.
- Hodakaso Sangetsu – The hot springs at this gay-friendly resort are the main attractions for visitors.
- Bier Hall – This Gifu bar is frequented by a mixed crowd of foreigners making it a great place to meet new people.
- Club Space – This Gifu nightclub features techno music, a mixed crowd and a lively dance floor.
- KS Bar – With some of the hottest DJs in the area, this club draws a young gay crowd to its dance floor.
- Oku Hida Hot Spring Villages – Located near the northern alps, this is a great place to soak up the views as well as the heat of the outdoor saunas.
- Maze River – This river is known as a great place to catch ayu.
- Gero City – Beautiful city features outdoor saunas, which use the natural hot springs in the area.
- Ena Gorge – The steep cliffs and rock formations surround this gorge, which is a favourite among hikers.
- Kiso River – The magnificent riverfront scenery make this river a favourite place for boat cruises in Gifu.
- Come watch one of F.C. Gifu’s exciting soccer matches.
- Catch a football match at the Gifu Nagaragawa Stadium.
- See one of the Sony Ichinomiya women's hockey team’s exciting matches.
- The Gifu Prefectural Green Stadium is a great place to watch a game.
- Play a round at the Toshin Hills Golf Club in Gifu.
In April at the Dosan Festival, the city comes alive with street vendors and flea markets.
The following weekend in April will see parades up and down the streets for the Gifu Festival.
The Chunichi Shimbun Nagara River All Japan Fireworks Festival in July sees upwards of 400,000 people head to the riverbanks to watch the spectacular displays.
Experience traditional Japanese theatre lit by nothing but bonfires on the river’s edge at the annual Takigi Noh festival in August.
Don’t be alarmed in October if you see warriors and horses coming down the main streets – it is all part of the celebrations for the Gifu Nobunaga Festival.
When To Go
In summer, from June to August, the city enjoys average temperatures of around 28ºC (82ºF).
Summer also experiences the most rain.
Although far drier, winter is also far colder, with temperatures sinking below freezing on occasion.
The extensive train network will not only get you around Gifu, but can also connect you with other cities if needed.
Gifu also offers many buses to get around.
If you’re feeling energetic, it is very easy to rent a bicycle and take to the streets with pedal power.
“Control Gifu and you control Japan” was a firmly-held precept in the chaotic period of feudal Japan that ran from the 15th to the 17th century. At the height of the dark Sengoku era the city at the heart of the archipelago nation was subject to a military and political tug-of-war between rival shogunates and family clans.
Gifu is decidedly more serene today. The capital of Gifu Prefecture has a peerless history by any measure, even for Japan, and offers a host of terrific attractions for visitors to explore. The alluvial plain city is also rife with natural beauty, from the Nagara River to Mount Kinka. Though eminently modern, Gifu is a place where traditional arts, crafts and agriculture still flourish. From cormorant fishermen, a source of fascination to none other than the late Charlie Chaplin, to the ancient art of mino washi, Gifu revives the past for the contemporary tourist to enjoy.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Gifu enjoys four distinct seasons, with mild winters and hot, dry summers.
- Winter (December to February) 0-12°C
- Spring (March to May) 4-24°C
- Summer (June to September) 19-32°C
- Fall (October to November) 7-23°C