One main gateway to Gifu is Nagoya's Central Japan International Airport, where many international lines pass through and which is easily accessible from Gifu. Alternatively, taking the Tokaido Shinkansen Bullet Train, which connects the major cities of Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo, is similarly convenient if coming from elsewhere in Japan (50 minutes from Osaka to Nagoya and 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo to Nagoya). From there, Gifu Station is around a 20-minute train ride from Nagoya Station, while Takayama Station is about 2 hours 20 minutes away. Additionally, Toyama Airport and Komatsu Airport are convenient entry points when making your way to Takayama and Shirakawa-go.


~The ancient road in Japan~
The Nakasendo is an ancient road that has existed for about 450 years and winds through Nagano and Gifu’s magnificent mountainous terrain.
It remains to be a natural road with lots of character; not a uniform road that was constructed with heavy machinery like the modern roads of today.


Built on sloped mountain terrain, with a breathtaking view of Ena Valley down below, is the old post station of Magome-juku. As a post station on the Nakasendo Highway, Magome-juku flourished by housing weary travelers that were making their way from Edo (current-day Tokyo) to Kyoto. Magome-juku stands apart from other stations of its kind in Japan because of its location on a slope. The tightly knit, sometimes overlapping wooden houses that cascade downwards feature traditional lattice windows, and line both sides of the cobblestone-style ishidatami road that goes through the station.
With this traditional Japanese atmosphere, and the lively locals who sell various merchandise to passing visitors, it’s almost as if you have traveled back 400 years to the golden age of the Nakasendo Highway.

Cycling & Walking to travel the NAKASENDO

We recommend walking or cycling to travel the Nakasendo. In areas where you see the original scenery of Japan, you cannot fully experience the beauty of Nakasendo by simply visiting local areas. It is important to experience the feeling of getting to the next post town, by feeling what is on the road or while walking between the post towns on foot or by bicycle. Naturally, walking is the best way to travel the cobblestones and steep mountain paths. Retracing the steps of people who have been walking along for 450 years is the best part of traveling on the Nakasendo. Nagano Prefecture is particularly suited for walking, given the closer location of some of the Nakasendo’s most popular post towns, Tsumago and Magome-juku. On the other hand, it is fun to ride a bicycle in areas that have been developed and on unpaved roads that remain as they were. In ancient times, people journeyed along not only on foot, but on horseback as well. Nowadays, it's more enjoyable to experience the Nakasendo riding on a “modern” horse, made of aluminum or carbon fiber with rubber tires. In particular, the Gifu area is far from the traffic of main roads, so cycling is recommended. Rediscover yourself and experience Nagano’s and Gifu’s unique treasures along the Nakasendo. Become an old traveler and travel through the original landscapes of Japan. Feel the real Japan that most travelers never get a chance to discover. Discover the Nakasendo. The Nakasendo awaits.

Traditional Crafts of Gifu

~The expertise and pride of the craftsmen~
Manufacturing has been thriving in Gifu Prefecture for a long period of its history.
Seki cutlery, Mino Ware, Mino Washi paper, and woodwork from Hida are among the distinctive local industries found in Gifu. The expertise and pride of the craftsmen who have continued to make these exceptional products for ages are treasured to this day.

Seki Cutlery

The cutlery of Seki has a long history that dates back about 780 years ago. Having all essential elements for sword making, Seki had prospered as one of Japan’s major sword production areas. The history and tradition were passed down to the present day, and Seki is known as the largest cutlery production area in Japan for high quality knives and scissors today.

Mino Ware

Ceramics produced in the cities of Tajimi, Toki and Mizunami are called Mino Ware or Minoyaki. The history of pottery in this area goes back some 1,300 years. An industry surrounding the mass production of these items including tableware, tiles and industrial ceramic products began in the 1930s, and Mino Ware boasts more than a 50% share of all tableware produced in Japan.

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Mino Washi Paper

Mino Washi was born of the rich natural environment and the wisdom and ingenuity of the local people. Recently, a wider variety of products including placemats, lamps and accessories are being manufactured. In 2014, the technique of the papermaking by hand was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, and Mino Washi is attracting the attention internationally.


With forest occupying more than 80% of the land, Gifu’s abundant resources and wealth of unique craftsmanship has resulted in a variety of wood products being produced in the region. Traditional techniques have been passed down through generations resulting in advanced carpenty skills that are used to make a wide range of wooden products today, from the finger-jointed masu boxes of Ogaki to the furniture of the Hida region.


~The Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall~
Chiune Sugihara was a diplomat and a native of Gifu who affected the fates of thousands of Jewish refugees attempting to flee Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Torn between his bureaucratic duties and his empathy for the refugees, he ultimately chose to follow his conscience and issued scores of transit visas through Japan, defying his own government. His decision saved thousands of lives.
The Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall in Yaotsu Town, built to commemorate his deed and pass it on to future generations, attracts increasing numbers of people from around the world.

The Japanese Diplomat from Gifu Visas for Life

Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara is revered for defying his own government and rescuing thousands of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany during World War II by issuing scores of life-saving transit visas through Japan.

Chiune Sugihara (1900-1986)

Sugihara, born in Gifu Prefecture, was the diplomat appointed to the Japanese Consulate in Lithuania during World War II.

People Seeking Transit Visas Through Japan

Sugihara, acting diplomat in Kaunas, Lithuania, was shocked when large numbers of Polish Jews fleeing annihilation from the Nazis suddenly appeared at the Japanese Consulate in July 1940, seeking transit visas as their sole hope of survival.

Deciding to Issue the "Visas for Life"

Ordered by Tokyo to reject them for failing to meet the necessary requirements, Sugihara was torn between his duties and empathy for the desperate people before him. "I ultimately reached the conclusion," he recalled later, "that humanity and compassion come first." In the end, he issued at least 2,139 visas on his own initiative, allowing thousands to escape to Japan and then continue onward to other countries fee of Nazi persecution.

Another "Visas for life " Story"

Most of the Jewish refugees who held a "visa for life" issued by Chiune Sugihara first traveled across the European continent, and then crossed over the sea to Japan. Upon reaching Japan they were then able to escape to other countries like America. JTB played an important role in transporting the Jewish refugees over the Sea of Japan, and then to the ports where they set out for America. Records containing the thoughts and feeling that the related JTB employee experienced as they were fulfilling their duties still exist to this day.


~UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go~
Located in an isolated mountainous region that is among the few in Japan to see extremely heavy snowfall, Shirakawa Village with its Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan.
Despite economic upheavals, the village is outstanding example of a traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people’s social and economic circumstances. People say that Shirakawa-go is a place right out of a fairy tale book, and this is true no matter the season.


~The Old Quarter of Takayama~
Known by the name “Sanmachi” the old quarter of Takayama consists of three streets in the center of town that preserve much of the look and feel of the castle town as it was hundreds of years ago. Located within a 10 minutes’ walk of Takayama Station, the old quarter is easily accessible and has become one of the must-see destinations in Gifu Prefecture. Old merchants’ houses and sake breweries line both sides of the streets, lending the area a very traditionally “Japanese” atmosphere and architectural style.

Hida Furukawa

~Town of White-Walled Storehouses along the Seto River~
Furukawa is known as the other old, very traditional town in the Hida region in addition to Takayama. With the stone walls of temples and the great white-walled storehouses in the background, the Seto River is the main highlight of the area. The canals running off the river are home to over 1,000 brilliant carp of many colors, bringing them to life and offering a very different spectacle than Hida's other "Little Kyoto."
Surrounding the river is an old castle town that is very mellow and retains both the feeling and the appearance of old Japan.


~Gero Hot Spring~
Considered one of the three most famous hot springs in all of Japan, Gero Hot Spring is particularly famous for the incredibly smooth quality of the water, which in turn makes the skin of those who soak in it just as smooth! This “water of beauties” attracts people from all over the world, and once they experience the water of Gero, they find it difficult to settle for anything else.

Gujo Hachiman

Gujo Hachiman is a quaint castle town whose old streets are lined with water canals. These canals are a testament to the locals’ affinity with the clear, pristine water in the area that was at one time their lifeblood. These days, however, it is revered and greatly respected, becoming the source of the town’s pride.

Gujo Hachiman is also home to one of Japan’s most famous traditional dance festivals. It is held over 30 times across a period of three months during the summer, and includes a period of four days where the dancing is held all night long.

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Okuhida Hot Spring Villages

Five distinct hot spring districts—located in the majestic Japanese Alps—make up the Okuhida Hot Spring Villages. A hot spring area with much history, Okuhida is blessed with an abundance of spring water bubbling forth from the earth, and because of this, it’s often said that there are more open-air hot spring baths here than anywhere else in Japan.

In the northern part of Okuhida is the Shinhotaka Ropeway, an aerial tramway that takes you in a double-decker gondola (one of only two in the world) to a height of 7,073 feet! The panoramic view of the Japanese Alps from the observation deck can be enjoyed all year long with snowy white landscapes in the winter, lush green scenery in the summer, and vibrant autumn foliage in the fall.

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Gifu City

~Gifu Castle~
Standing atop Mt. Kinka, Gifu Castle was the home base of one of Japan's great military commanders, Nobunaga Oda, and was said to be unassailable. The Japanese armor and swords exhibited in the castle are very impressive as well.
The castle is accessible from Gifu Park via the Mt. Kinka Ropeway. From the upper room of the keep, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the entire city and beyond. Take your time to savor every bit of the landscape that the ancient rulers used to enjoy!

Gifu City

~Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River~
Known as Ukai, Cormorant Fishing is an ancient fishing method that has been performed in Gifu for 1,300 years in which the fishing master uses cormorants to catch ayu sweetfish. With Gifu Castle looming in the background, in the dark of night the masters and the cormorants set about their work, guided by the flaming torchlights at the helms of their boats. Though short in duration, this ceremony transports you back in time with its subtle yet profound beauty.

Yama, Hoko and Yatai Float Festivals in Gifu

~UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage~
The Yatai floats of the Takayama Festival, the Okoshi-daiko (wakening drum) of the Furukawa Festival and the Yama floats of the Ogaki Festival are gorgeous works of local culture and craftsmanship, and are on the representative list for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. These traditions have been safeguarded and passed down for centuries, and are the seasonal splendors of the regions.

Premium Hida Beef

Hida beef is a designation awarded to Japanese Black cattle of the highest quality that is bred in the Hida region of Gifu Prefecture and that meets the strictest of standards. Recognized as Japan’s best beef multiple times, the name “Hida beef” is synonymous with succulent taste and exquisite, marbled texture. The soft, pink meat will melt in your mouth and can be enjoyed in many forms, from steak to shabu-shabu style, which involves dipping thin slices into hot water for a few seconds to cook them. When eating Hida beef, you can almost taste the time and labor that went into caring for the cattle, resulting in this meat that is among the most delicious foods in Gifu.

Ayu (Sweetfish)

Ayu (or sweetfish) is a migratory fish that moves between rivers and the sea over the course of its one year life span. Gifu boasts the largest yield of ayu in the country and it is designated as the prefectural fish. Ayu has been a valuable source of protein and enhances the economy and culture along the basin of the Nagara River.

Gifu Sake

Gifu Prefecture is surrounded by mountains of the Northern Alps, Haku, Ibuki and Ena, and melted snow from these mountains form bountiful rivers including the rivers of Nagara, Hida, Kiso and Ibi. Riverbed water from these pristine rivers eventually turns into the well waters of each local sake brewery best suited for making flavorful Gifu sake.