Gifu prefecture, known as the unofficial “center” of Japan, was and is very important to Japan in many aspects. For starters, it holds the record for most open air hot springs in one area of Japan, in addition to having famous historical figures like Oda Nobunaga of Sengoku fame, and a UNESCO Heritage site dedicated to preserving Shirakawa’s historic village. Gifu also occupies the land that was originally the home of the Yamato people, arguably Japan’s most famous tribe. It’s also one of Japan’s rarer landlocked prefectures.
Because much of Gifu is surrounded by mountains, including parts of the Japanese alps, the temperature fluctuates throughout the year. While there is no ocean nearby to cool off from the hot summers, cold winters can be made bearable with Gifu’s numerous hot springs, especially those in Gero. Because the Japanese alps are also nearby, Gifu can also serve as a starting point for any snowboarding, skiing, or mountain climbing trips you are planning.
Gifu is also historically famous for being the sword making capital of Japan. In addition to this, it also had the Nakasendo route through it; a road that allowed people to travel from Kyoto to Edo, which made Gifu a strategically valuable piece of land. There was an old saying from the Sengoku (Feudal) Era, which means “Control Gifu and you control Japan”. Goes to show how valuable Gifu truly was.
And let’s not forget about the food! Gifu boasts unique cuisine that makes it feel like you’re eating truly traditional Japanese food. Hoba Miso, or baked miso wrapped in hoba leaves, has an interesting history behind it. Kei-chan chicken is also cooked with a marinade of miso, garlic, and soy sauce, and is guaranteed to go well with rice. Hida beef is also Gifu’s most prized form of meat, and can even go toe-to-toe with Kobe beef in terms of flavor.