While we may not be able to visit Japan’s Gifu Prefecture at the moment, the locals are busily preparing for Australian travellers to return.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go
Leap into an ancient world that comes straight out of a fairy tale, and experience the harmony between village and nature. Hidden away deep in the mountains is the quaint settlement in Shirakawa Village that is famous for its gassho-zukuri houses whose grand roofs resemble hands clasped in prayer. Many of these houses are still inhabited, which are often surrounded by rice paddies, are utilised as guest houses for travellers.
The oldest and largest remaining gassho-zukuri house in the village, the Wada Residence, is still used as a private residence, but part of it is also open to the public for viewing. There, you will find on display many tools used in everyday life long ago.
Shirakawa-go, located approx, one hour from Takayama in Gifu Prefecture’s North-West, became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 due to its outstanding exemplification of a settlement that is perfectly adapted to its environment.
Late last year, the destination also received another UNESCO honour, as the traditional skills, techniques and knowledge of the wooden architecture used in the villages iconic gassho-zukuri style houses was designated as an example of ‘intangible cultural heritage’.
Soak in Japan’s famed hot springs
Located deep in the Northern Japan Alps, the Okuhida Hot Spring Villages contain the most open-air hot spring baths anywhere in Japan. There are five hot spring villages: Hirayu, Fukuji, Shinhirayu, Tochio, and Shinhotaka.
Among them, Shinhotaka Hot Springs is the most popular thanks to outdoor hot spring baths located beside a running river. During winter, spectacular events are held in each village. Kamakura snow hut festivals, folk performances, and ice illuminations are some you should not miss.
Ride the Norikura Skyline into the clouds above Mt Norikua
Reaching 3,026m above sea level, Mt. Norikura is located on the Southern edge of the Japanese Alps and is home to the highest road in Japan – the Norikura Skyline. With access by bus (mid-May until late Oct), take the journey into the clouds before hiking from the Norikura Skyline terminus to Tatamidaira, the highest peak of Kengamine.
Your reward for a 90min hike is extraordinary mountain views with summits that poke above clouds. Sunrise is particularly spectacular.
Goshikigahara Forest is magical, mystical forest unlike any other that emerged from the fire and lava of Mt. Norikura’s past volcanic activity. The forest lays at the foot of Mt. Norikura and covers 3,000ha of the Chubusangaku National Park’s southernmost edge. The forest is home to a diverse ecosystem with plunging waterfalls, deep ravines, clear rivers, waterholes and wetlands.
Book a guided tour (mid May to late Oct) to gain a fascinating insight into the treasures of Goshikigahara Forest.
Leap from Japan’s tallest bridge at Gifu Bungy
Adrenalin junkies, this one’s for you! Gifu Prefecture is the proud home of a new bungy jumping site, with a breath-taking location at Japan’s highest bridge bungy jump.
Take the exhilarating leap from Shintabisoko bashi, the largest bridge in Japan, and plunge into the waters of Tabisoko Gawa Valley 215m below.
More information: Visit Gifu