Gifu, Town of Oda Nobunaga and Cormorant Fishing Part 2
Because I had not planned to spend the night for this trip, I did not go on the night tour of Cormorant Fishing. Still, I was able to fully enjoy Gifu for the day-time activities it had to offer. Part 1
I returned from the short boat cruise to and from the Nagaragawa Ukai Museum, and had lunch on Kawaramachi Street (Details can be seen in Part 1). After this, I headed from the Nagara Bridge to the Gifu Park. I entered Gifu Park through the “Japan-China Friendship Garden”, a Chinese style garden that opened in 1989, then further across a footbridge towards the ropeway station.
1. Strolling Around Gifu Park
It has been 25 years since I last visited Gifu Park. I got the impression that a lot has changed. A recent addition is a Japanese garden called “Nobunaga’s Garden”.
Nobunaga’s Garden, Map
2. Kinkazan Ropeway
The Gifu Castle sits on the top of Kinkazan Mountain. The summit is about 329 meters above sea level. There are 9 main hiking routes to climb this mountain. It is a popular hiking destination for families living around the Gifu and Nagoya area. For most tourists visiting Gifu from afar, arriving at the summit on ropeway is the preferred method of transportation. In order to secure enough time to visit the 2 museums within Gifu Park, I would recommend arriving at Gifu Castle early using the ropeway. You can expect to spend about 2 hours for the ropeway trip up to the Gifu castle and back down.
3. Gifu Castle
Once you look down at the mountain from the Kinkazan ropeway, you realize how strenuous it must be to climb this mountain. From the ropeway station on the mountain top to the Gifu Castle Tower is about a 10 minute walk on the mountain trail. There is a separate trail for the trip to and from the mountain to avoid congestion. I discovered the trail that the Machiya Café staff told me about (refer to Part 1) but it looked unexpectedly rugged and I didn’t seem to have prepared myself enough for such a strenuous hike. It appears proper shoes and gear is necessary for a hike through Kinkazan Mountain.
The castle tower at the summit is perched on bedrock of chert rocks. The reason is because this castle tower is a replica specifically made as a tourist attraction. There is not much to see on the inside because the castle itself is quite small in scale. They do have a display of military weapons and small furnishings though. The featured item is the Tenkafubu Seal. It is a seal that Oda Nobunaga used to authorize important decisions, but the one on exhibit here in the Gifu Castle is a replica. I must say that the best part about coming up to this castle tower is the amazing view it has to offer.
Letter to Oda Nobunaga from Father Luis Frois; the Portuguese Missionary to Japan. He was one of the early missionaries from Society of Jesus during mid 16th century. He wrote great number of letters and reports about warring states period of Japan.
Magnificent View from the Gifu Castle, Map
4. Museums in Gifu Park
After the Gifu Castle, I visited 2 museums inside of Gifu Park. The first museum was Gifu City Museum of History and the second was the Nawa Insect Museum.
The Gifu City Museum of History is a typical local museum of history and covers ancient periods up to the modern period. The highlight is the replica of the Gifu town during the mid 16th century when Nobunaga ruled the area. This is the only section of the museum where they allow visitors to take photos.
Replica: Gifu Town in mid 16th Century under Nobunaga Rule, Gifu City Museum of History: Map
The other museum, the Nawa Insect Museum, is one the most popular insect museums in the country. The main building itself is also one of National Tangible Cultural Properties.
The Building Itself is a Tangible Cultural Property, Nawa Insect Museum: Map
5. The Gifu Great Buddha
The last place I visited was the Gifu Great Buddha or Gifu Daibutsu housed in Shohoji Temple. The method in which the statue was made is quite unique. The framework is made of bamboo, and then covered with high quality bamboo and plaster. Buddhist scriptures are pasted over it, and then coated with lacquer and finally finished with gold leaf. It is 13.77 meters in height and often cited as one of the Three Major Giant Buddha Statues in Japan.
The Gifu Great Budda of Shohoji Temple, Map
Even a day trip will let you see many beautiful parts of Gifu. If you are able to spend the night here, you can also enjoy Ukai viewing or even go back to Nagoya to enjoy the night view or dining in the streets of Sakae.