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GIFU – A Living Gallery of Japan’s Culture & Tradition

Ayu fi sh and the slices of fat-marbled raw beef, are the must try delicacy of Gifu!

Ayu fi sh and the slices of fat-marbled raw
beef, are the must try delicacy of Gifu!

Quiet, laidback, with a distinct lack of highrise buildings blocking the skyline, Gifu is the tranquil face of Japan seldom seen by casual travelers. At Gifu, gone are neon signs and crowded walkways, all that remain are olive-green countryside and wooden houses that seem to have popped out straight from a fairytale.

Located in Central Japan, Gifu is a prefecture made up of two regions, the northern Hida region and the southern Mino region. The former is dotted with mountains and forests that collectively cover 80 percent of the land, while the latter is an important transport and distribution point for Japan. Due to the abundance of nature, the air and water of Gifu are exceptionally clean and free from pollution.

The best time to experience Gifu is during spring, where it is coated with greeneries, or during winter where where all the forests, plains, crop fi elds and houses are cover by drizzling white snow. Either spring, its forming a beautiful picture that literally is beyond the description of words!

Shirakawa-Go, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Within Gifu lies the scenic Shirakawago region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its mountain ranges, quiet rivers and the Gassho-Zukuri farmhouses, some of which are 300 – 400 years old!

Gassho-Zukuri?

In Japanese, Gassho-Zukuri literally means “constructed like hands in prayer”. Put in context with farmhouses, you get unique rural dwellings with steep thatched roofs resembling hands pressed together as if in prayer (ie. in an upside down V shape). Most of these roofs are fi lled with straws, and the entrance of a Gassho-Zukuri farmhouse is normally pointed directly towards the north or the south to minimize the impact of the local wind direction. Amazingly, the unique design of the Gassho- Zukuri roof allows farmhouses to stay cool in summer, and warm in winter.

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