Gifu prefecture is in the center of Japan, and the in center of many travelers’ hearts. The landscape in this area is breathtaking, from the mountains of Hida in the north to the wide plains and rivers of the Mino area in the south. Gifu is home to the UNESCO site of Shirakawa-go with its traditional steep thatch-roofed houses and famous hot springs. In fact, Gifu boasts the most open-air hot spring baths in all of Japan. There are many historic sites and preserved districts here making it a great place for you to get a feeling of “little Kyoto” without the crowds and tourism overload of that famous city. Gifu Castle is another must-see, and foodies should be sure to try delicious local Hida beef which can be cooked as steaks or enjoyed as comfort food in the form of shabu-shabu, traditional hot-pot cooking.