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Mogami’s Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour: Gifu 岐阜 Japan Travel Guide

Welcome back to Mogami's Japanese Wellness Tour & Japan Travel Guide
 Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Japan Travel Guide

Welcome to our virtual wellness journey across Japan with us, where we delve into the unique charm of each prefecture. We'll uncover the region's special features through a blend of facts, sightseeing, local delicacies, and enduring Japanese crafts (伝統工芸品 dentou-kougei-hin) that have stood the test of time.


Mogami's wellness principles draw from the everyday lifestyle aspects of Japanese culture, and each prefecture puts its own spin on showcasing these principles.


This series aims to illustrate how exploring every prefecture can enhance your holistic wellness. Whether savouring local delicacies, immersing in onsen experiences, embracing mindfulness through traditional crafts, or finding solace in forest bathing and the simplicity of wabi-sabi during nature walks, each location contributes to a holistic wellness experience.


Our aim is to shine a light on wellness practices and draw inspiration from each prefecture, empowering you on your holistic wellness journey.

Join us to uncover, learn, and embrace the beauty and specialities unique to each prefecture.


Onto the sixth destination of our tour & Japan Travel Guide: Gifu


 Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones

Gifu City


Did you know?


Situated in central Japan, Gifu Prefecture is graced by majestic mountains, notably the Northern Alps. The tranquil charm of historic castle towns, such as Hida Takayama and Hida Furukawa, echoes the ambience of the Edo period. The prefecture is also home to traditional mountain villages like Gujo Hachiman and the popular skiing destination Takayama.


You can explore its historical sites, natural wonders and indulge in the practice of forest bathing to boost your well-being and feel rejuvenated.



Sightseeing destinations


Gero Onsen


Gero Onsen stands out as one of the country's most renowned hot springs, particularly in the Tokai region. Counted among Japan's top three hot springs, alongside Kusatsu Onsen and Arima Onsen, Gero Onsen boasts a rich history dating back to the Heian period (794-1185).


The spring's alkaline simple water is famous for its skin-beautifying properties that appeal to visitors. Flourishing as a therapeutic bath during the Edo period, it attracted numerous individuals seeking medical treatment.


Situated along the Hida River, the hot spring resort seamlessly blends a lively atmosphere with a picturesque mountain setting. Visitors can relish strolls through the hot spring town, explore outer baths, or unwind in the complimentary footbaths, making it a delightful experience.


 Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Japan Travel Guide

Our Ryokan recommendations:


  • Gero Onsen Fugaku: Provides a traditional experience with tatami mat rooms and hot spring baths. Some rooms offer river views, and the location is convenient for exploring the town.


  • Suimeikan Karukaya Sanso: Situated by the Hida River, this ryokan offers a blend of modern and traditional elements. Guests can enjoy open-air baths, Japanese kaiseki meals, and the tranquil surroundings.



Hida-Takayama


Hida-Takayama, often referred to as Hida's Little Kyoto, captivates visitors with its charming streets lined with historic houses exuding a rich atmosphere. Many of these old structures have been transformed into cosy cafes, inviting restaurants, and quaint general stores, creating an ideal setting for a leisurely stroll.


The allure of Hida-Takayama extends beyond its historical charm, offering a delightful array of gourmet foods like rice crackers, dumplings, and Hida beef skewers, easily savoured while exploring the area. For a unique experience, consider taking a rickshaw ride, with Hida-Takayama boasting the original sightseeing rickshaws in Japan.


Hida Takayama, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide


Shirakawa-go


Shirakawa-go is undeniably Gifu's most famous tourist destination, renowned for its large triangular thatched roofs. In 1995, UNESCO added three villages—Ogimachi in Gifu Prefecture and Suganuma and Aikura in Toyama Prefecture—to its World Heritage List for their Gassho-zukuri houses and the surrounding natural environment.


The name 'Gassho-zukuri' comes from the fact that these roofs resemble the shape of 'gassho' (joined hands). This architectural style is exclusive to regions with heavy snowfall, specifically Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture and Gokayama in Toyama Prefecture.


 Shirakawa-go, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide

The landscape offers a timeless journey into the realm of Japanese folktales, presenting an authentic and exceptional portrayal of Japan. The gassho-style houses harmonise with the mountainous landscape, offering spectacular views in both the green season and amidst deep snow. Particularly enchanting is the winter scene when the village is transformed into a snow-covered wonderland, and the gassho-zukuri houses become even more magical when illuminated. In the summer, the countryside surrounding Shirakawa-go offers a nostalgic experience with the gentle hum of cicadas. 


Gassho-Zukuri,Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide

The gassho-zukuri houses function as both exhibition centres and living museums. They offer historical context, architectural explanations, and insights into the distinctive, ingenious lifestyle and key industries of the mountain village that coexist with nature.


Some of the houses have been converted into guesthouses, providing accommodations for visitors. While certain residences understandably remain private and closed to the public, others are open for exploration and worth visiting. With numerous souvenir shops and restaurants enhancing the overall experience, the destination has become sought-after by both local and international tourists.


Shirakawa-Go, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide

Shirakawa-go is a location that resembles "Japan's hometown" (日本の故郷), where the essence of rural culture and the traditional Japanese way of life is profoundly experienced. Here, a tangible link to the past persists, evoking a connection that resonates deeply with contemporary life.



Gifu Delicacies


Hida Beef


Hida Beef, a top-tier meat in reputation and quality secured the highest accolade in Japan's national Wagyu beef quality competition. Its visually distinctive and exquisite appearance makes it an ideal choice for sashimi.


A renowned method of savouring Hida Beef is through Hida Beef nigiri, where the chewy yet melt-in-your-mouth meat perfectly complements the rice.


Hida Beef, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones


Takayama Ramen


Originating in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture, Takayama Ramen, locally referred to as 'soba,' sets itself apart by using buckwheat flour for its noodles. Distinguished by its smaller portion size compared to regular ramen, the soup is crafted from a blend of chicken stock, dried bonito flakes, and vegetables, resulting in a savoury soy sauce-based flavour. The flat, thin, and frizzy noodles effectively absorb the rich broth, creating a distinctive and delicious culinary experience.


Takayam Ramen, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide


Botan Nabe


Botan nabe is a beloved winter delicacy in Gifu, known not just for its taste but also for its visually appealing presentation. The dish derives its name from the arrangement of wild boar meat, resembling peony flowers.


The unique taste of wild boar meat, intriguingly light for its thickness, becomes increasingly tender as it simmers, making it an ideal ingredient for nabe, a hot pot dish. Boar meat is not only recognized for its health benefits, being low in fat and calories, but it is also rich in collagen, making it particularly advantageous for and favoured by women.


Botan Nabe, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide


Gifu traditional crafts


Gifu Wagasa (Traditional Japanese umbrella)


The enchanting allure of Gifu wagasa has gracefully transcended generations, seamlessly blending tradition with the contemporary era. The craft's lineage in Gifu City dates back to the Edo period, leveraging the abundance of high-quality materials in the region, including Mino washi paper, premium bamboo, and Egoma oil. Encouraged as a domestic occupation for samurai during the Edo period (1603-1867), Gifu's wagasa umbrella production flourished.


Reaching its zenith in the 1950s, the annual production soared to over 10 million umbrellas. However, with the advent of Western-style umbrellas and a scarcity of successors, production waned. Yet, in March 2022, it earned national traditional craft designation, reigniting interest in its unique appeal.


A wide variety of Japanese umbrellas have been crafted in the region, including janomegasa (parasols for everyday use), bansa (parasols for sun protection), dancing parasols, festival parasols for Shinto rituals, and yakegakegasa (umbrellas for hanging up as decoration).


Gifu Chochin, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide

Gifu Chochin (Traditional Japanese lantern)


Gifu Chochin, a traditional craft primarily found in Gifu Prefecture, are elegantly shaped, long egg lanterns adorned with exquisite paintings. Originating in the 17th century as gifts for clans, these lanterns have been designated a traditional handicraft by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry since 1995.


The manufacturing method adheres to Ministry guidelines, utilizing techniques such as 'dousa-biki' and 'jishiki-biki' for jigami and fabric processing. Imprinting or hand-painting is employed for decoration, while fire pouch processing involves methods like 'katagumi,' 'higomaki,' 'tacking,' 'seam cutting,' and 'die cutting.' Wood processing includes 'stretching,' 'beating,' and 'chamfering.'


Materials consist of Japanese paper for the base, silk for the fabric, and lantern bones made from madake or hachiku. The wood, sourced from sugi (Japanese cedar), Japanese cypress, or equivalent, maintains the craft's authenticity.


Characterized by their distinctive shape and intricate paintings, Gifu lanterns stand as a testament to the rich tradition and craftsmanship of this revered art form.


 Gifu Lantern, Gifu, Japan, Mogami Japanese Wellness Prefecture Tour, Forest Bathing, Hot Springs, Onsen, Blue Zones, Japan Travel Guide


Craftsmen & local businesses based in Gifu


At Mogami, we value the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship and like to shed light on local businesses that continue to practise these traditions with thoughtfulness and intention.


A few of our highlights of craftsmen & local businesses based in Gifu


Chochin

  • Ozeki Lantern @ozeki_lantern - Long-established Obon lantern shop in Gifu City manufacturing and selling interior lighting using the gentle light of washi (Traditional Japanese paper).

Wagasa

  • Wagasa Casa @wagasa_casa -  A Japanese umbrella select shop that elegantly showcases Gifu umbrellas and directly sells these traditional treasures, providing both local and visiting enthusiasts with unique opportunities for purchase and experience.

 

Gifu is a prefecture filled with opportunities to enhance your wellness journey. Enriched with culture and revitalizing activities like soul care and forest bathing, immerse yourself in an experience that paves the way to a healthier present, guided by the footsteps of the past.


Comment below to share what sparked your interest in this feature!


We are thrilled to have you continue to join us on a journey of discovery and immerse yourself in Japan's vibrant yet harmonious culture.


Stay tuned for our next destination! 👋🏻



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