Largest City


A perfect pitstop

Scenic Gifu prefecture is a rewarding stopping point on the way from Kanto to Kansai.

Known for its thatched-roofed mountain villages, charming merchant towns and centuries-old traditions, Gifu prefecture is a perfect cultural pitstop on your way between Kanto and Kansai. In summer, traditional cormorant fishing takes place from lantern-lit boats along the Nagara River, while in the winter the old farmhouses of Shirakawa-go look like a Christmassy gingerbread village. Hot spring resorts run along the base of the Japan Alps where there’s hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter; plus a number of entertaining festivals throughout the year.

Shirakawa-go Gifu Prefecture, Japan

The village of Shirakawa-go looks pretty enough to eat.

Gifu City is the unassuming prefectural capital but it makes a good starting point for exploring the region in a loop. From May 11 through Oct. 15, you can witness nighttime ukai or cormorant fishing on the Nagara River. Experience the 1,300-year-old tradition from a wooden boat, as fishermen skillfully guide the cormorant birds to catch fish beneath the water, by the light of roaring fire lanterns.

Furukawa Gifu

Stroll the picturesque streets of Furukawa.

From Gifu you can make the day trip to Furukawa, a nicely preserved merchant town with a carp-filled central canal, before traveling north to the historic castle town of Gujo-Hachiman.

The town is known as a production center for the deceptively lifelike plastic foods you see outside of Japanese restaurants. View the models and even have a go at making one yourself.

If you’re there in August, and have a lot of stamina, join in the Gujo-Odori, a 32 day dance festival which ends in four days of all-night dancing.

Head further up to reach popular Takayama, a picturesque mountain village with a lovely old town lined with sake (rice wine) breweries. Nearby, the Hida Folk Village is an open-air museum of traditional Edo houses preserved from across the Hida region. Pick up a sarubobo baby monkey charm for luck.

Northwest of Takayama are the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama (in Toyama prefecture). Nestled in a verdant valley, these collections of old farmhouses are known as gassho-zukuri for their thatched-roofs which look like two hands in prayer. Stay overnight in one of the houses to imagine what Edo mountain life might have been like.

From Shirakawa-go, head east to the Shinhotaka ropeway, one of the longest in Asia. Double-decker gondolas take you to the top of Mount Hotaka (also known as Hotakadake) which offers incredible panoramic views as the “Leader of the Northern Alps”. It’s a popular trip during autumn when you can stay to watch the sunset over the mountains.

Places to visit

Traditional and Historical Japanese village Shirakawago in autumn season

Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Leave modern technology and worries behind, and rediscover a simpler way of life buried in the mountains.

Traditional street in Takayama, Gifu prefecture


Get ready for your pants to be charmed right off at this picturesque mountain town.

Gujo Hachiman

Local vibes of Ayu sweetfish and all-night dancing.

Plastic Food Replica Shops in Gujo Hachiman

The birthplace of Japanese plastic food.

Edible Wasp Festival

Discover how locals hunt and cultivate wasps as a hobby and even eat them as a treat. Whoever raises the most wasps is the champion! Stick around to see who wins.

Gifu City

Home to Japan’s most ancient fishing tradition and a historic castle with sweeping sights of surrounding mountains and greenery, this city could be central Japan’s best kept secret.  

Yokokura temple

The Mummy of Yokokura Temple

The mummified remains of an 18th-century monk resides in this peaceful rural temple.

Other Destinations in Chubu

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Karamon Gate in Fukui Prefecture


Discover dinosaurs and the art of Zen in fossil-filled Fukui.

Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref


Rich cultural heritage, great seafood and some stunning coastal scenery - if you're into that sort of thing.

Monkeys bathing in the onsen in Nagano


World-class winter sports, hot springs (occasionally monkey-filled), delicious local food and a foreigner-friendly vibe.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture


The rice is right in Niigata prefecture where there's skiing in winter, festivals in summer and sake all year round.

Mt. Fuji and tea plantations


It's resorts galore in serene Shizuoka.

Lake Kurobe in Toyama Prefecture


Toyama's speciality is mountains and there's no better place to experience them than here.

View of Mt Fuji Yamanashi Prefecture


Pack a prized Yamanashi piece of fruit in your camping bag and head for the hills.

This Month’s Top Spots

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

People eating and drinking in Yurakucho Tokyo Japan.


From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.


Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.