Selection:History / Traditional Culture
Model Route：Experience the history and traditional
culture of the Chubu region!
Experience the traditional beauty of Japan
with all of your senses.
The abundant nature, traditions, and culture of Japan that have been passed down over the years are highly valued by tourists from around the globe. Among them are Gifu and Aichi prefecture, which both have lots of well-know historic sites where Japan's distinctive atmopshere can be felt. In this article, I will introduce our recommended 4-day, 3-night travel guide that allows any foreign traveler to enjoy the history and traditional culture of Gifu and Aichi Prefecture. Each location has its own unique charm, so please use this as a reference for your future trips to Japan!
Hatcho Miso Brewery Tour
When it comes seasonings in Japanese food, miso is probably one everyone has heard of at least once. While miso is a generally broad term, the long-matured soybean miso that is produced in Hatcho-cho, Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, is called "Hatcho miso”. You can learn about the manufacturing procedure during a tour of the Kakukyu miso brewery, which has been producing Hatcho miso for more than 370 years. 600kg of giant wooden shelves are filled with 6 tonnes of miso with 3 tonnes of stones placed on top to maintain the moisture, slowly aging the miso over 2 years. I took a 30-minute tour of the brewery, which included a peek at the huge wooden vats used for making Hatcho miso, and listening to a lot of easy-to-understand explanations regarding the production process.
Oh, and make sure to try the "miso soft serve ice cream" on the way home! At first, I was suspicious and thought, “Miso-flavored soft-serve ice cream?!” But when I tried it, I was surprised at how tasty it was! I still can’t forget the savoury flavor of Hatcho miso together with the mild sweetness of salted caramel.
Nagoya's famous "Nagoya Meshi" Food Tour.
Travelling is all about eating good food! Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture is famous for Nagoya-meshi. Nagoya-meshi is a general term for the distinctive food culture of Nagoya. It is characterized by its powerful seasonings strong-flavored rich red miso paste, which is often used in local dishes. Among the many kinds of Nagoya-meshi, I recommend "Hitsumabushi," an eel dish. Hitsumabushi is a dish which consists of finely chopped broiled eel that is usually served over white rice. The first step is to put the eel over some white rice in a bowl. Then, add condiments (green onions, chopped seaweed, wasabi, and more) to enjoy various unique flavors. Finally, pour green tea on top to make ochazuke.
The restaurant I visited this time, Hitsumabushi Bincho, carefully selects and procures the finest eels from all over the country, so be sure to stop by for a taste of this delicious authentic dish! Honestly, I don't particularly like fish or eel, but I enjoyed the Hitsumabushi here so much that I became addicted to it and plan to have it again when I next visit Aichi Prefecture.
Experience the sunken hearth at Shirakawa-go Gassho-Zukuri
The Gassho-Zukuri Village of Shirakawa-go in Shirakawa Village, Gifu Prefecture, is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village includes over 100 Gassho-zukuri houses of various sizes, each with a distinctive thatched roof. Here, visitors can learn about Japanese history and the traditional lifestyle of the village.
Photo provided by Shirakawa Village Office, Gifu Prefecture
After touring the interior, you can try your very own traditional "Irori hearth experience" and warm yourself up next to the hearth. You can also eat local dishes that have been eaten in Shirakawa-go for hundreds of years, which is a perfect lunch after a day of sightseeing! It was autumn when I visited, the autumn leaves were so pretty. Next time, I'd like to visit in winter and see the fairy-tale-like scenery of Shirakawa-go in the snow!
Traditional Japanese drumming performance by "Dekonaru-za".
The second day, I started my sightseeing in Gifu prefecture's Hida Takayama city. First, we watched a performance by "Dekonaru-za" where there were Japanese instrumental performances by local performers. The show was based on a legend related to Hida Takayama, and the performance consisted of not only Japanese drumming, but also shamisen, other stringed instruments, and a variety of dances. Each performer plays a rhythm on various different-sized Japanese drums, making the performance very powerful! I felt as though every cell in my body wanted to dance to the rhythm of the drumming. The concept of "Dekonaru-za” is "There are no words (lines), only sound and the echo of the soul.”
Also, after watching the Japanese drumming show, I had the chance to have a go at doing a Japanese drum performance of my own. I was taught the basic postures and simple rhythmic phrases for playing the Japanese drum, ending with a mini jam session with the performers! I felt like a professional performer!
Sake tasting at "Funasaka Sake Brewery."
“SAKE", or Japanese Sake, is something you should try during your trip to Japan. Funasaka Sake Brewery is a traditional sake brewery with around 200 years of history that sell a variety of Sake such as plum and yuzu flavor which are popular among foreign tourists.
There was also a wide range of souvenirs available in the store, including food related to Sake, confectionery, as well as cosmetics that women will love. It's a fantastic place for alcohol lovers to not only buy alcohol, but also to taste it there and then.
What a surprise! There was also a "Coin Sake Server" that was overflowing with a playful feeling. If there is a kind of sake that interests you, just insert a coin and push the button. After trying a small amount, if you want to drink more of this Sake, head to the souvenir corner♪ The owner of the store was very cheerful and humorous, and she showed us some souvenirs that are popular among foreigners. If you get a chance, please drop by and chat to them! (Lol)
Beautiful & delicious traditional Japanese "Wagashi".
Japanese confectionery, or Wagashi, is popular for souvenirs because they show the unique Japanese sense of season and are very pretty to look at. There are many famous Japanese confectionery shops in the Gifu Prefecture. Among them, Bunrindo, a popular Japanese confectionary shop in Hida Takayama, has a wide range of products from seasonal limited edition products to regular products that can be purchased year-round.
Each of the Wagashi here are handmade by artisans. Using cute molds, the four seasons are shown through the colours and shapes of the Wagashi. The aroma and refined sweetness of the Wagashi makes us want to eat as many as possible.
Stay the Night at Gero Hot Spring
Gero Hot Spring is a place where the liveliness of a hot spring town and the atmosphere of a mountain village are in harmony. Gero Hot Spring is one of the three most famous hot springs in Japan, and has been visited by tourists from Japan and abroad since long ago for its superb quality of water, which makes the skin smooth and healthy. On this day, I stayed at Suimeikan, a high-class Ryokan where three large baths can be experienced. The thought of experiencing hot spring baths while admiring the picturesque scenery was super exciting!
I stayed in a Japanese-style tatami room. Here we could relax, drink Japanese tea, and chill out. The course with Japanese food is highly recommended, as the food is luxurious and has a variety of dishes made using ingredients local to Gifu Prefecture, including Hida beef, a brand of Japanese beef.
Waterfall tour at Osaka
If you come to Gifu, you should definitely go on a tour of the over than 200 waterfalls that can be found in Gero’s town of Osaka. Many of the waterfalls in this valley were created by the eruption of Mount Ontake! Each waterfall is unique, some are extremely powerful with a lot of water, some have two or three tiers, and some are so beautiful with a thin water flow that looks like white thread! There are a variety of waterfall tours, and those who are confident in their physical strength can challenge the harder courses, while those who want to enjoy a casual tour can choose the easier courses. When I actually tried trekking, I felt that it was less strenuous than I had imagined, since the great nature of Osaka can be enjoyed to the fullest and I could gaze at the surrounding scenery. Also, the sound of the constantly falling water from the waterfalls was like a concerto performed by nature! Let's take a waterfall tour, breathe in the negative ions of nature, and refresh ourselves!
Magome-juku on the Nakasendo Highway in the Gifu Prefecture is a charming place with old streets that retain the atmosphere of Edo. It is a place where you can get away from your usual life, listen to the murmuring of the water, the tweeting of birds, and leisurely admire the old-fashioned buildings. The scenery is picturesque when photographed on a sunny day, when we visited, we were blessed with beautiful weather, which made it easy to take photogenic pictures.
Having tea at a retro cafe or shopping at a roadside souvenir shop to pick up something to take home is recommended!
Stay the Night at a Kominka.
When you travel, you want to choose a lovely place to stay. Particularly if you are travelling in Japan, we recommend staying in a Kominka (a traditional Japanese house) where the traditional atmosphere can be enjoyed. "Shinchaya" in Magome-Juku, where I stayed this time, is a Kominka ran by local residents. It features an elegant garden and a quaint exterior.
The life of Japanese families from the past can be experienced while having your soul soothed by the warm service and hospitality. A kotatsu and a Japanese heater table are installed, allowing you to feel impressed and think “So this is the old-fashioned Japanese lifestyle.” I was happy to be able to have Japanese food made with seasonal ingredients♪ Also, the ladies who took care of us were very kind, and I enjoyed talking with them during my stay.
Mitake Hanazushi making experience.
Sushi is one of the most popular Japanese foods. When you see Mitake Hanazushi, a local specialty of Mitake, Kani-gun, Gifu, you might think it is too beautiful to eat! What's more, if you share a photo of the pink, yellow, and orange Mitake Hanazushi on social media, you are sure to be envied by your friends! In fact, this local dish, which expresses the culture, history, and beautiful nature of this town, looks more like a piece of artwork than food when it is packed in a Hangiri (a container used to serve sushi)! Expressing the flowers and culture of the four seasons through food, Mitake Hanazushi is packed with the kind of attention to detail that can only be found in Japan! If you’ve come all the way to the Gifu Prefecture, you wouldn’t want to leave empty-handed, would you? Experience making Mitake Hanazushi and take home the experience of making a sushi-related souvenir, along with the memories of your trip!
Heading home via Chubu Centrair International Airport.
The trip comes to an end at Chubu Centrair International Airport.
The airport has a restaurant district where you can enjoy the regional flavours unique to Nagoya, “A Flight of Dreams” where you can see the first Boeing 787 aircraft up close and enjoy shopping for Boeing related merchandise, as well as an observation deck where you can see a panoramic view of the airport. A real plane seen from the front is especially breathtaking! There are also Japanese restaurants and duty-free shops with great deals, so be sure to stop by before your flight.
Chubu Centrair International Airport