What is Gifu Castle?
The Gifu Castle is located in the heart of Gifu prefecture, and was named by one of the most prominent Samurai warriors and Shoguns (generals of Japan) in a Japanese history, Nobunaga Oda, when he succeeded to take over this region of Gifu. The castle existed before Oda’s conquest, but became a very iconic headquarters for his dream, the whole country unification.
Incredible Panoramic View
The view from the castle is totally worth climbing if you decide not to take the gondola as it stands over 300 meters above sea level, on the very peak of Mt. Kinka. From the top of the castle, you would feel like the whole Gifu town is in your arm. It’s quite exciting to imagine that the most powerful man at the time was watching the same view (although of course not all the skyscrapers we have today) as we look it down.
Illuminated town in the night
You can enjoy both the day and the night time which shows different faces of the town. Especially at night, the illuminated town is so magnificent that it is often likened to an aurora in the sky. For many people to experience and enjoy this night view, the castle is open for longer hours for a very limited time of a year. This autumn, it opens from 3 September to 16 October but only for the weekends and national holidays. Do not miss this chance!
Now, look it up from below
Photo Credit:Gifu city.
Won’t be able to make it during this special opening times? No worries, the view of the castle itself at night is as superb as that from the castle. What do I mean? Well, when the night hits, go to the bottom of the castle and look it up in a dark. Unlike some other famous castles, the lights are used very minimum and subtle. But the castle appears at the top of a mountain looks incredibly gorgeous and is even mystical. If you are lucky, you can have the best combination of it with a full moon on its background.
Fancy riding a gondola to the top?
Although I recommend you to try to climb it to the top on foot if the weather and your health allows you to, there is a huge gondola that takes you from the Gifu Park to the castle within just 3 minutes or so. The passing sceneries of Mt. Kinka’s green nature and historical Gifu towns below your feet are something you may not want to miss.
Time Travel to ancient Japan
Photo Credit:Gifu Convention and Visitors Bureau.
To make your visit more fruitful, why don’t you visit the Gifu Castle Museum located at the foot of the Mt. Kinka. One big attraction of this museum is a section where the full-scale old street of free markets and open guilds is replicated. You can walk down the street as if you time travelled to the ancient Japan. When you go into a dry goods store there, you can even try to put on the Samurai armors from the Japanese Warring States Period!
As for a different type of attraction, there is a ‘village’ of squirrels in Mt. Kinka, close to its mountain peak. Getting off a gondola, you can see so many cute squirrels and put them on your hands (with special protection gloves!) or even feed them. Surprisingly, it is said that their ancestors were from Thailand. In 1936, a Japanese Exposition was held in Gifu prefecture and the rare squirrels were brought from Thailand at the time for entertainment. Apparently some escaped to the mountain and since then they flourished thanks to the rich nature. You may be after for a historic visit, but might as well say hello to a bunch of the fluffy!
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Address: 18 Tenshu-kaku (Castle Tower), Gifu City, Gifu prefecture
Access: 15 minute bus ride from Gifu Station, then 3-minute walk to Gifu Park for the gondol
9:30 AM – 5:30 PM (March 16 – May 11)
8:30 AM – 5:30 PM (May 12 – October 16)
9:30 AM – 4:30 PM (October 17 – March 15)
*Only New Year’s Day 6:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Website: Gifu Castle