Exploring a new destination steeped in history – GIFU


Photography: Kazuya Baba

Gujo Hachiman Castle looks beautiful in snowy winters as well.

We here are jSnow introduce our readers to new snow destinations in every issue we publish. This time around, we’ll be shining a light on a place largely unfamiliar to our fan base—Gifu. Readers will most likely associate regions we have covered, such as Hokkaido, Nagano, and Niigata, as renowned snow destinations in Japan. However, residents of Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and other areas of western Japan are likely to have deep connections with Gifu when it comes to snow. Gifu is situated next to Nagano prefecture in a deep inland mountainous area. While its location makes for excellent snow, it remains fairly unknown to international visitors due to the lack of outward marketing as the place to go for snow. This makes it a hidden gem just waiting to be uncovered.

I will be telling you all about the wonders of Gifu through this closing feature alongside the collection of photos I took on my visit there during the 2020 season. The photos were taken while I was based in three locations: Gujo Hachiman, which is a mere stone’s throw away from Nagoya (the third largest city in Japan after Tokyo and Osaka); Hida Takayama, which is a popular tourist destination where old townscapes of Japan can be seen; and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go.

The view from Meiho Ski Resort, just 30-minutes away from Gujo Hachiman.

Gujo Hachiman

A waterside town at the base of a mountain Home of the famous Gujo Odori
Stunning water channels are found all over the place. Koi can also be spotted swimming in them.
A view of the whole town can be seen from the castle
Gujo is a riverside town known for its pure and beautiful water.
The retro-feel of the redroofed izakaya (Japanese pub) wonderfully oozes with history.
Trying your hand at making food samples is another joy of visiting Gujo. Tempura prawns, lettuce, and other food samples can be made here.
There is a project underway in Gujo where traditional Japanese dolls, displayed during the Girls’ Festival, know as “hina ningyo” are “brought to life”. These dolls can bem found around town getting up to all sorts of activities.
Gujo is known for its Gujo Odori, a muchloved dance with over 400 years of history. The custom of dancing on end throughout the town can be seen from July to September.
Gifu is the home of Hida Beef (Hida-gyu), a famous brand of wagyu.
Kobokobo—local beer brewed using the town’s pristine water.
Meiho Ski Resort is a famous Gifu ski slope. Its many snow machines guarantee plentiful snow at all times.
Powder snow can be enjoyed on the tree-runs here following a night of snowfall.
Takasu-Dynaland Ski Resort is the largest ski resort in western Japan and boasts a colorful station on its slope.
Ryu Resort and Spa (http://ryuresort.jp/lg_en/) is a luxury resort partway between the Gujo area and Takayama. Drop on by if you’re looking for a plush stay in Gifu

Hida Takayama

Streets filled with Edo-period history and culture; mountains bursting with snow activities
Takayama Jinya is the only surviving government headquarters from the Edo period. Head over in the morning to stroll through the markets held at the plaza in front of the gate there every day.
Endless hours can be spent simply strolling around the old streets and visiting the shops here.
In the centre of Takayama city are two bronze statues: Tenaga (long arms) and Ashinaga (long legs). This one here is Ashinaga. The statues are of characters in Japanese folk tales.
One of the big three morning markets in Japan—Miyagawa Morning Market. Well worth rising early for a visit.

Takayama is also famous for its ramen and “Takayama-style” ramen is known across Japan. This particular ramen is from Mametengu, a long-established popular ramen restaurant. This is a must-visit restaurant for ramen lovers.
Honokidaira Ski Resort is located approximately 40-minutes away from Takayama. This undiscovered
gem offers the best powder snow experience in all of Gifu owing to its high altitude.

For those looking to enjoy some sightseeing or activities in Hida Takayama, drop by to visit Satoyama
Experience (http://satoyama-experience.com/), a service welltrusted by overseas visitors. This picture
was taken during a snowshoe tour.


Thatchedroof houses: a typical building technique in snowy regions Beautiful winter wonderlands in this World Heritage Site
Thatchedroof houses: a typical building technique in snowy regions Beautiful winter wonderlands in this World Heritage Site
Scarecrows, modelled on humans, have been used since ancient times to keep birds away from farms and fields.
The sight of thatched-roof houses is quintessential to snowy rural areas of Japan. This area is now popular amongst visitors from overseas following its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site


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