Chubu International Airport (NGO IATA) is the nearest airport to Gifu. Meitetsu trains run directly from the airport to the Meitetsu Gifu station three times per hour at a cost of ¥1310 for an unreserved seat, or ¥1660 for a reserved seat; seat reservations are mandatory on the limited-stop μSKY trains. The trip takes about one hour.
Gifu is a station on the JR Tokaido Main Line and JR Takayama Line. Frequent services on the Tokaido Line run to Gifu from Nagoya Station (18-25 minutes, ¥450). From Tokyo it takes approximately 2¼-2½ hours via the Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi service, changing at Nagoya (¥11000). The Nozomi is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass; Hikari services from Tokyo will slightly increase the travel time. From Kyoto and Osaka, it takes slightly over an hour to reach Gifu via Nozomi, changing in Nagoya (¥6100).
The Nagoya to Gifu journey is actually one in which travel by JR line is faster and cheaper - the private Meitetsu Railway runs from Nagoya into Meitetsu-Gifu Station in 30 minutes at a cost of ¥540. The Meitetsu station in Gifu is about 400 m northeast of the JR station.
There is also Limited Express service via Maibara to Kanazawa (2½ hours, ¥6700) and Toyama (3 hr 15 min, ¥7800). In addition there is a more scenic route to Toyama via the Takayama line which takes around 3 hr 55 min.
Gifu-Hashima is a local stop on the Tokaido Shinkansen in the city of Hashima, about 12 km southwest of Gifu. It is possible to reach Gifu city from here using the Meitetsu Takehana Line, which runs out of nearby Shin-Hashima Station - through trains to Meitetsu-Gifu run from the late afternoon and take 30 minutes at a cost of ¥420. Many trains terminate at Kasamatsu from where you can transfer to reach Gifu. Most travelers coming from the west, however, opt to travel to Nagoya or Maibara and change there for train service to Gifu.
There are scheduled buses (5 times/day) connecting Osaka Namba OCAT to Shin Gifu Bus Center. The trip takes less than 3 hours under normal traffic condition. Gifu's close proximity to Nagoya means that very few highway buses actually stop here. Travelers considering coming by bus will have a lot more options by going to Nagoya and then taking a 20-minute train ride to Gifu Station.
Gifu City is serviced by the Meitetsu run Gifu Bus as well as JR Buses. JR passes are accepted on JR buses.
Also, there are three Rent-a-Cycle stations in downtown Gifu (JR Gifu Station, Gifu City Hall South Branch, and Gifu Park). You can rent bikes for ¥100 per day.
- 1 Gifu Castle (岐阜城). 09:30-16:30; Jul 30-Aug 31 until 22:00. Gifu Castle sits atop Mt. Kinka, and the main attraction is a 360-degree panoramic view from the top floor. The castle was historically significant as Oda Nobunaga used it as a headquarters when unifying Japan, however the castle was destroyed in 1601, after the Battle of Sekigahara. The current castle was completed in 1956 and underwent a major renovation in 1997. Inside the castle is a small museum with armor, swords, maps, etc. The castle is open for night viewing in the summer. Getting to the top of Mt. Kinka requires either a ropeway ride or a hike. Castle admission ¥200.
- 2 Gifu City Museum of History (岐阜市歴史博物館). There are exhibition corners where you can experience history while being introduced to it. In particular, the Castle Town of the Warring States Period is displayed in-scale and the Rakuichi-ba has been restored. (Rakuichi-ba is the Free Market established by Oda Nobunaga for the promotion of the Castle Town economy by drawing in merchants.
- 3 Nawa Insect Museum (名和昆虫博物館 nawa konchū hakubutsukan). The Nawa Insect Museum has been open since 1919 and is the oldest insect museum in Japan. In this museum, familiar insects, as well as rare and attractive species from all over the world, are exhibited. The museum also sells entomology tools and there are also talks about insects. Because the building is very important for historical value, the museum is a Registered Tangible Cultural Property.
- 4 Katō Eizō-Tōichi Memorial Art Museum (加藤栄三・東一記念美術館 katō eizō-tōichi kinen bijutsukan). It was established in 1991 as a place to admire the well-known Japanese artists, Eizo and Toichi Kato, who were both born in Gifu. It houses paintings by the Kato brothers and holds a variety of exhibitions for the locals.
- Public Tea Ceremony House: You can see beautiful scenery in Gifu Park all year round. Places of interest in Gifu Park are a statue of Nobunaga, the Oda Nobunaga Palace Ruins, the Kabukimon, the Gifu City Museum of History, and the Nawa Insect Museum. At the Tea Ceremony House, visitors can relax and enjoy a bowl of green tea.
- 5 Shōhō-ji (正法寺大仏). The Gifu Daibutsu (Great Statue of Buddha) is located southwest of Gifu Park in the Colossal Hall of the Great Buddha here at Kinpōzan Shōhō-ji Temple. It is basketwork-style, painted with lacquer, and plated gold. It is the largest Buddha statue of this type in Japan. The statue is 13.7 meters tall. The ears are 2.1 meters long and the nose is 0.4 meters wide. It contains an image of the Yakushi-nyorai made by Jikaku-daishi.
- 6 Sankō Art Museum (三甲美術館). The Sankō Art Museum is located on a hill and affords a view of Mt. Kinka. It is in a quiet area surrounded by Sarastewartia trees (similar to camellias). The museum houses tea utensils and paintings, including those by Renoir, Chagall, and Ryuzaburo Umehara in a lavish setting. Every admittance includes your choice of coffee, tea, green tea, cola or juice, served with a view of the central garden. ¥1200.
- 7 Kogane Shrine (金神社). A historic shrine that is said to bring monetary fortune. It's famous for its unique gold torii gate. The shrine is located within Kogane Park, a popular place for locals to gather, but they typically don't venture onto the shrine grounds, so it's still quite peaceful in spite of the hustle and bustle surrounding it.
- 8 The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu (岐阜県美術館). The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu has approximately 3,000 works, including the world-famous collection of Odilon Redon. It comprises broad fields, especially the local, modern, and contemporary artists. Temporary exhibitions are held periodically. In addition, you can enjoy our exhibition-related events; talks, lectures, workshops, performances, and so on. Also, there is the beautiful and peaceful garden of 20,000 trees and a stream.
- 9 Gifu City Science Museum (岐阜市科学館). A planetarium and many exhibits that can be operated and touched. It’s an intellectual place to learn through experiences.
- Cormorant Hermitage: You can look at a scene of cormorant fishing from an early date, the clothes of the fishing master, a cormorant fishing boat, and other materials at the hermitage. You can watch the 24 cormorants which actually work during the fishing season that are kept in the yard. You will be able to eat and drink coffee and Ayu Zosui (rice porridge with sweetfish) in this place, or other dishes with sweetfish (most are ¥1000). If the fishing master is at home, he will explain this traditional fishing method. You can enjoy a pleasant time listening to the interesting story.
Ukai (cormorant fishing) occurs every year between May 11th and October 15th on the Nagara River. Gifu City is the only place where this tradition has continued uninterrupted for 1300 years. You can watch this spectacular event by boarding a viewing boat or watching from the banks of the river. Most of the action is upriver from Nagara-bashi. Tour boats begin embarking from about 18:00 (for those serving dinner aboard) until 18:30 or 19:00 (a bit later during the peak of summer). The night-fishing show begins after dark, around 20:00 or later during the summer months, and finishes by 21:00, in time to get back to a train station and return to Nagoya for those on a day trip.
- Mt. Kinka (金華山) (from train station, take buses bound for Gifu Park). Mt. Kinka is a 329-meter peak next to Gifu Park, with good views of the Nagara River and the city below. On top of Mt. Kinka is Gifu Castle, a small castle museum, and a "squirrel park". Most people will take the ropeway to the top. As an alternative, you can hike through the forest, taking either the shorter and steeper hyaku-magari ('100-bend') or the longer and gentler nana-magari ('7-bend') trail. Each will take over an hour, and good hiking footwear is recommended, especially on the "100-bend" (actually 135-bend) trail. The meiso no komichi (めい想の小径) trail is easier, with some steep sections, and is a popular school outing for local kindergartens; while the uma no se (馬の背 'horseback') trail is direct and more demanding. Ropeway round trip ¥1050, ¥520 children. Museum ¥200. Squirrel park ¥200.
- Nagara River Fireworks Festival: Held on the last Saturday in July and the first Saturday in August, this is actually two events, each sponsored by a rival local newspaper (Chunichi Shinbun and Gifu Shinbun). As they are rivals, of course they attempt to out-do one another, resulting in two spectacular firework displays on the banks of the Nagara River, against the backdrop of Mount Kinka. The evening displays start at around 19:00, but due to the crowds it is advisable to arrive as early as possible - after around 18:00 you are very unlikely to find anywhere to sit. If you miss out on a seat, the bridge makes a good vantage point to stand and watch - but wear comfortable shoes, as the displays last around 90 minutes. Special buses run from Meitetsu Gifu and JR Gifu stations from 26:30 onwards. Once you have managed to find somewhere to squeeze your tarpaulin/seating mat, wander round and sample typical Japanese festival foods from the many stalls lining the upper banks, and enjoy watching the many people in yukata. The special buses on the way back are very crowded and start some way from the site, so you may find it easier and cooler to make the 40-minute walk back to the city centre.
The traditional industries of Gifu City are Japanese umbrellas (wagasa) and lanterns, both of which are made of hand-made paper.
- 1 El Paso (エル・パソ) (Near Meitetsu Gifu Station). Serves the best and widest selection of Mexican food (TexMex) & drinks in Gifu. They also have a variety of other delicious dishes. Prices are reasonable and the service is great. The waitress speaks a little English and the menu is in English and Japanese. The decor is a little eclectic with Buzz Light Year and Woody from Toy Story. The TV will be playing either sports or Country/Western music videos. The place is a bit small, and can fill up, but they are open until around 01:00, with fewer customers then.
- 2 Gishu (岐州), 1-31 Sumidamachi, ☏ . The most popular gyoza restaurant in the city. There's always a line and it's not uncommon for them to sell out of gyoza.
- 3 The NEMS, 2-12-2 Kinen-cho (One kilometer east-southeast of Gifu Station, between the Meitetsu and JR tracks). Serves great Western food & drinks only; no soy sauce or miso in this mom & pop shop. Pilaf, Doria, Cheese Yaki Spaghetti, Spicy Chili Tomato Spaghetti, Gratin, Seafood Risotto, Vegetable Salad, Crustless Pizza, Hot or Cold Barley Berry Tea, and 80 more items are on the menu. Prices are regular and the portions are large. The owner speaks English. The decor is Western with foreign knick-knacks to entertain your eye. There is a selection of English & Japanese magazines and books. Wi-Fi is available to regulars. Native language lessons available from the American, French, Mexican & Japanese family.
- 4 Rodeo Roundup, Akutami-cho (On highway 156, 500 meters north of the post office.). Serves super delicious steaks and the best ribs in the U.S. and Japan; both about ¥3000 for the largest sizes. They are cooked over a wood fire on a big brick & iron Santa Maria-style barbecuer. Rodeo Roundup is a cowboy restaurant & bar, with all the decor coming straight from Santa Maria, California. Bring a pillow if your butt is bony and you plan to stay a while. Many more items are on the menu, from octopus salad to Mexican tacos. Prices are reasonable. The owner speaks English, having lived in Santa Maria and other places for 5 years as an illegal alien. You'd be needing reservations for this place every night if it weren't 10 km from Gifu Station.
- Fandango (150 meters southwest of Mirai Hall, which is across the street from Memorial Center). It's best to get reservations for this place, even on weekdays, because it seats very few people. Decor is Spanish, but the menu is Western eclectic with a touch of sashimi, as is usual in this area of Japan, and is very much the owner's style. Try the beef tongue, or ask the chef to choose. Prices are a bit high, but you get some very fancy food. The owner speaks a little English. This is definitely the place to impress someone on your first date.
- 5 Aka Noren (赤のれん) (2 km east of the south side of the Iwado Tunnel), ☏ . This place has the best Shio Ramen bar none. The other Ramens and the Dote are great too, and the Gyoza is strange, but good and green and healthy, and cooked with no oil! Prices are cheap. The owner speaks no English, but he is very friendly, and is a wonderful character to sit in front of and watch. If you use your toilet at home, you won't need to use the port-a-potty outside. You'll never find this place empty, and it's often hard to get a place to park or sit, even on weekdays!
- 6 Not Curry (ノットカレー), 2-5-12 Yabutahigashi (10-15 min walk from Nishi-Gifu Station). 11:30-14:30, 17:30-20:00, closed Tu. Serves delicious Hokkaido-style soup curries in a pleasant rustic setting.
- B's Cafe, Yanagase Shopping Mall. A cool bar frequented by young Japanese and a few foreigners. The management and bar staff are very friendly, it plays good music and it has 'funky environs'. It often holds launch parties for up and coming Japanese music. Drinks are reasonable, at ¥500, and on the first Thursday of every month there's no cover charge. Secondroom, just below offers a place to chill out with the owner, Bryan.
- Bier Hall, near Gifu Meitetsu station. The main gaijin hangout in Gifu City, and popular with Japanese too. Notable for the incredibly friendly owner, who speaks a little English, and has an astonishing memory for faces. On your second visit she will greet you like a regular! Also of note is the book exchange corner - if you've finished the paperback you bought to read on the plane, feel free to swap it for a different title. Gifu knit club meet here during the winter, so don't be alarmed if you come in on a Tuesday evening and see lots of people with pointy sticks.
- Bar Leon is kitty-corner from the northeast corner of Yanagase on Kanda-machi street. This place is the second most popular foreigner's hangout in Gifu, and would likely be the favorite place if it was nearer to Gifu Station. It has character, ambiance and a wide variety of Japanese and foreign clientele. Don't let the name fool you: Besides alcohol, a wide variety of live music, and dancing, this place has delicious food (1/2 price on Mondays) like the whole chicken, roasted with a Brazilian 12 chicken rotisserie in the Latin American style, and served with a unique spicy, milky-cheesy sauce on the side.
- Scrum is a small bar located above Bier Hall (go up some stairs to the left of Bier Hall). The theme, not surprisingly, given the name, is rugby, more specifically the New Zealand All Blacks- who the very friendly owner is obviously a huge fan of. At Scrum you'll find a good selection of imported beers, a pool table, and plenty of posters of NZ rugby players.
There are numerous business hotels near JR Gifu Station. Stingy backpackers may wish to note that whilst Gifu does have one manga cafe, it offers a single tatami with a table covering half of it as its flat booth, making it not really one suitable for sleeping within.
- 1 Castle Inn. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. Singles from ¥7500.
- 2 Ryokan Kimie (喜美恵旅館), Sumida Machi 1-34, ☏ . Aging ryokan with futon on tatami and a shared bath and toilet. Close to JR Gifu station. about ¥4000 per person.
- 3 Route Inn Gifu Kencho Minami, 2-1-8 Suga. A nice hotel south of the city center with Wi-Fi and its own onsen.
- 4 Dormy Inn Giku Ekimae (ドーミーイン岐阜駅前).
- The hot springs of Gero Onsen and the hidden valleys of Takayama are within striking distance of Gifu, as is the historical battle site of Sekigahara.
- The town of Hida, 2 hours 20 minutes away by train or car, has some interesting museums and a youth hostel.
|Routes through Gifu|
|Maibara ← Sekigahara ← Ogaki ←||W E||→ Nagoya → Tokyo|
|Toyama ← Gero ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ Ichinomiya → Kiyosu → Nagoya|
|END ←||W E||→ Kakamigahara → Inuyama|
|Takayama ← Gujo ← Seki ←||N S||→ Kakamgahara → Ichinomiya|
|Maibara ← Sekigahara ← Ogaki ←||N S||→ Mino Kamo → Toki|
|Ono ← Motosu ←||N S||→ END|