As the season changes over from spring to summer, the days are getting hotter and more humid! Of course, one associates summer in Japan with summer festivals and events, and Gifu Prefecture is a prime example of this. There are many festivals famed nationwide that are staples of the summer season, from the Gujo Odori Dance Festival held in Gujo Hachiman to cormorant fishing held on the Nagara River in Gifu City! Here, I introduce a selection of Gifu’s best-known summer events in addition to other smaller, more intimate festivities. Please have a read-through and use this newsletter as a reference when you make your way to Gifu Prefecture – the Heartland of Japan – during the summertime!
Now ~ October 15 From 6:45 pm 1-2 Minato-machi, Gifu City Getting here: JR/Meitetsu Gifu Station [Gifu Bus] “Nagarabashi” bus stop [3-minute walk] Price: ¥3,000 ~ ¥3,300 (Children: ¥2,600 ~ ¥2,900) Note: Canceled on the Harvest Moon and when the river level is abnormally high ℡: +81-58-262-0104 http://www.gifucvb.or.jp/en/ 01_sightseeing/01_01.html One of the events most symbolic of Gifu Prefecture – and Gifu City in particular – is cormorant fishing, which is held on the pristine Nagara River every night throughout summer, extending into early autumn. The amount of history – 1,300 years’ worth – behind this method of fishing is staggering, and you can experience its old-world feel as you watch the fishing masters working in-sync with their cormorant helpers. In the dark of night, with nothing but their guiding torches to lead the way and illuminate the water below, the masters and birds hunt for ayu sweetfish, entrancing spectators and bringing them along on a journey out of time. Charlie Chaplin himself is said to have watched cormorant fishing here in Gifu on multiple occasions and gushed words of praise! Why don’t you experience it for yourself firsthand?!
Tagami Farm – Blueberry Late June ~ late October Picking 9 am ~ 5 pm 1315 Norimasa, Gero City Getting here: Gero Station [Taxi • 15 min] Price: ¥1,300 for 40 minutes’ worth of all-you-can-eat ℡: +81-576-26-2876 (Children: ¥700) http://www.tagami-farm.com/ (Jpn.) No agricultural chemicals or chemical fertilizers are used in the cultivation of blueberries here at Tagami Farm, so visitors can enjoy the best, naturally delicious blueberries picked right off the vines! Enjoy the freedom of allyou-can-eat berries for 40 minutes, and then buy some specially-made jam – also made with no artificial additives or preservatives – that makes for a perfect gift to take home! Tagami Farm is a fantastic place to savor Japan’s wonderful all-natural fruit!
June 22 ~ July 15 (Hydrangea Village Festival: June 29, 30; 10 am ~ 4 pm) Itadori, Seki City Getting here: “Seki-guchi Eki-mae” bus stop [Gifu Bus on the Seki Itadori Line towards Horado Kurihara Shako”] “Horado Kurihara Shako” bus stop [Itadori Fureai Bus] “21 Seiki no Mori” bus stop ℡: +81-581-57-2111 http://itadori-ajisai.com/ (Jpn.) The “Hydrangea Road” lining the Itadori River in Seki City has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 best roads, a tribute to the beautiful scenery that the 70,000 hydrangea flowers create during early summer! The stunning colors of this road are further supplemented by an additional 30,000 hydrangea located in the Itadori 21st Century Forest Park, the site of the annual “Hydrangea Village Festival.” Together they make up the Seki Itadori Hydrangea Festival, a celebration of this flower’s beauty! Come enjoy one of the best locations in Japan to take in the wonder of the hydrangea!
Gujo Odori Dance Festival July 13 ~ September 7 (specified nights only) 8 pm ~ 10:30 pm (Saturdays: until 11 pm; Allnight dancing: until 5 am the next morning) Hachiman-cho, Gujo City (Exact venue rotates; see below website for specifics) Getting here: JR/Meitetsu Gifu Station [Gifu Bus Hachiman Express Line] Gujo Hachiman Jokamachi Plaza; alternatively, [Nagaragawa Railway] Gujo-Hachiman Station [15-minute walk] ℡: +81-575-67-0002 http://www.gujohachiman.com/kanko/gujo_odori_ e.htm An event backed by more than 400 years of tradition, the Gujo Odori Dance Festival without a doubt lives up to its title as one of Japan’s Three Great Bon-odori Dance Festivals! Over the course of 32 non-consecutive nights, the 2013 iteration of this dance will light up the streets of Gujo Hachiman as both locals and visitors from afar come together to enjoy this traditional Japanese summertime dance. Since this is a participatory dance, not one to observe from the sidelines, please don’t hesitate to jump into the circle and dance along with everyone else! And if you arrive in traditional dress, in a yukata summer kimono and geta clogs, you are bound to enjoy yourself all the more! The 4-day period from August 13 to 16 is when the festival hits its fever pitch with allnight dancing that lasts until the early morning hours! This all-night dancing, unique among dance festivals in Japan, is one of the elements of the Gujo Odori that makes it one of Japan’s most famous, premier traditional dance festivals.
July 13 ~ August 31 6 pm ~ 10 pm (Mt. Kinka Ropeway: until 10:30 pm) 18 Kinka-zan Tenshukaku, Gifu City Getting here: JR/Meitetsu Gifu Station [Gifu Bus towards “Nagarabashi”] “Gifu Koen/Rekishi Hakubutsukan-mae” bus stop [Mt. Kinka Ropeway from Gifu Park • 3 minutes] [8-minute walk to the mountaintop] Price: Admission to Gifu Castle - ¥200 (Children: ¥100); Round-trip ropeway tickets for the night session - ¥800 ℡: +81-58-265-4141 (Children: ¥400) http://www.gifucvb.or.jp/en/01_sightseeing/01_02.html The view from Gifu Castle, once the stronghold of Japan’s most popular historical figure, Oda Nobunaga, is a stunning one, offering a 360-degree panoramic view that is particularly breathtaking at night. From the castle keep, you can look down upon the heart of Gifu City as well as even the metropolis of Nagoya in the distance! Though it is undoubtedly brighter nowadays than it was in the past, you can still get a sense for what it was like to be a feudal lord in medieval Japan, looking upon your fiefdom!
Tochimoto Farm – Cherry Tomato Picking Mid-July ~ end of October
10 am ~ 12 pm, 1:30 pm ~ 6 pm Price: ¥1,000 per kg 2235 Mimayano, Gero City Getting here: Gero Station [Taxi • 15 min] ℡: +81-576-26-2763 http://tochimotonouen.com/ (Jpn.) Gero is famous for its sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes and is one of the few places in Japan to offer cherry tomato picking! Of course, these golf ball-sized fruits are tastiest when picked fresh, so come see what all the fuss is about in person!
August 1 ~ 4 ℡: +81-576-24-2222 Hot spring district, Gero City Getting here: Gero Station [5-minute walk] http://www.city.gero.l g.jp/kankou/data/lang uage/e/event.html This is the largest summer festival held in the hot spring district of Gero, known as one of Japan’s Three Great Hot Springs! Every day brings a different highlight, with the main event – the Ryujin (Dragon) Fire Festival – taking center stage on the first day. Watch as dragons and unusual wan-mikoshi – portable shrines in the shape of wooden bowls – dance wildly through the streets of Gero among firecrackers, sparks, and torches galore! The second day features a parade of portable shrines as well as the Gero Odori Dance, and the third sees a special performance of the musical fireworks for which Gero is well-known (8 pm ~ 8:45 pm). All in all, the festival makes for a fantastic time to come to Gero and enjoy its storied rejuvenating spring water!
68th National Fireworks Display
7 pm ~ 8:45 pm (Fireworks will also be launched at other times starting from 9 am) Banks of the Nagara River (between the Nagarabashi and Kinkabashi Bridges), Gifu City Getting here: JR/Meitetsu Gifu Station [Direct shuttle buses departing regularly] ℡: +81-58-264-1159 http://www.gifucvb.or.jp/en/0 2_event/02_03.html In the heart of summer, grand fireworks displays are put on above the magnificent Nagara River, a location famed for its cormorant fishing tradition and backed by looming Mt. Kinka with Gifu Castle at its peak. One of the prominent events of the summer season in Gifu City, this fireworks performance is among the largest in the country, with around 300,000 launched into the sky, electrifying it with color and energy! This year, one of the centerpieces will be fireworks recreating Iguazu Falls – a South American destination selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature! Come relax on the banks of the river in a yukata summer kimono to keep cool in the warm weather!
August 11 From 6:45 pm Nagaragawa Park (north side of the Nagarabashi Bridge), Gifu City Getting here: JR/Meitetsu Gifu Station [Gifu Bus towards “Nagarabashi”] “Ukaiya” bus stop [3minute walk] ℡: +81-58-265-4141 http://www.gifucvb.or.jp/en/02_event/02_04.html While the main “Tejikara Fire Festival” is held annually in April, this summer rendition changes things up a bit by relocating to the bank of the Nagara River, the prime location for any summer event! As befits a “fire festival,” the main attraction of this festival is the spectacle in which a group of men frantically carry a portable shrine on their shoulders that, stuffed with gunpowder, rains sparks down upon them like a waterfall! Their dance, along with the sound of firecrackers and the sight of fireworks (which are one element absent from the main festival), makes this an event not to be missed!
GIFU: The Complete Travel Guide Have a read through Gifu’s new guidebook that introduces the various points of interest throughout the prefecture! The single most comprehensive English language resource on Gifu to date, it will make a great reference while you plan your trip and while you are on the ground here in Gifu! The entire book can be found online (in both ebook and downloadable PDF forms) at the Gifu Crossroads blog: http://gifucrossroads.wordpress.co m/gifu-the-complete-travel-guide/
Nagashi-somen Night in Magome-juku August 13, 14 From 7 pm Magome-juku, Nakatsugawa City Getting here: Nakatsugawa Station [Kita Ena Bus on the Magome Line • 25 min] “Magome” bus stop ℡: +81-573-69-2336 http://www.kisomagome.com/magomeibent. html (Jpn.)
Along the Nakasendo - one of the five great highways of the Edo Period – sprung up numerous post towns where travelers would stop and rest at an inn overnight. Among these post towns, Magome-juku is unique for the 600meter-long steep hill on which it was built. It is precisely because of this defining slope that we can today enjoy some nagashi-somen right on the Edo period street! Nagashi-somen is a meal that involves dropping thin wheat noodles (somen) into a running flume filled with cold water and then catching the noodles with chopsticks as they pass by. So here in Magome, a 100-meter-long bamboo flume is prepared and noodles are sent shooting down the incline as visitors attempt to snatch them up! The ambience – with lanterns illuminating the cobblestone-paved street while the sun sets behind the mountains – cannot be beat, and to liven things up, the Magome-juku Bon-odori Dance will also be held at 8 pm for everyone to enjoy!
Making a trip to Takayama easier and more affordable than ever!
Gifu Prefecture and the JR Central Japan Railway Company continue to bring you an independent travel package to Takayama like no other! 3 nights in Takayama and 2 nights in Nagoya PLUS round-trip train tickets from Nagoya to Takayama PLUS round-trip tickets to Kyoto or Ise (your choice of 1 of these 2) PLUS more! For detailed information about this jam-packed travel option, please refer to the following web page: http://japanican.com/tours/list.aspx?kw=stayrai ltakahaku
Central Nippon Expressway Pass 2013
Thinking about traveling through Gifu Prefecture and other parts of central Japan in a rental car? Check out the new CEP 2013 pass that Gifu has developed in collaboration with NEXCO Central, which oversees the highways in central Japan. It makes exploring the area affordable and super easy! http://global.cnexco.co.jp/en/whatsnew/20130222/20130 322.html
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