With 47 different prefectures to visit in Japan, there is almost an unlimited vein of activities and places to explore within the country. There are quite a few prefectures that are popular amongst travelers like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, so most of the key spots here have already been heavily documented to the point where the main downside to visiting these places can be the crowds. But with another 44 to go, there are multiple ones that still have so much more to be discovered like Gifu prefecture. Transforming into a snow-filled paradise in winter, Gifu really comes to life when the whole area is blanketed in a thick layer of the powdery white frost. This makes the snow a big attraction for Gifu and a wonderful time to visit in winter.
Gujo Okumino’s unique blend of outdoor activities, historic sites and natural beauty makes it an ideal winter destination. It is home to numerous ski resorts and snow parks, including the famous Takasu Snow Park: located on Mount Dainichi, the thick layers of pure powdery white snow that blanket the region makes it the ideal spot for anything snow related. Takasu Snow Park provides numerous courses and opportunities for people of all experiences from beginners to the veterans. Even kids are welcomed here with open arms as there is a kid’s park that offers sledging and tubing along with other activities for all children to enjoy. Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of this snow park is the 4,900-metre-long course that is one of the longest you can find in Western Japan. The varied terrain at this snow park opens up and creates unique skiing and snowboarding opportunities for all, allowing for a change in experience, should anyone be seeking it. So, whether you are specifically travelling through Gifu with the intention of sliding through the snow in your skis or snowboard, or you just happen to find yourself in this area when the place is transformed into a utopia of snow, Takasu Snow Park will be able to offer you with all the entertainment and fun you need.
Quite possibly the crown jewel of the Gifu prefecture, this quaint little traditional village is as captivating as it is old. Some of the houses which are more than 250 years old, have been preserved and maintained by the local people in order to protect the rich history and heritage this place holds for all travelers to see. Built long ago in an architectural style called ‘gasshō-zukuri’ for farmhouses that was seen mostly in this region of Gifu, their unique roofing is what makes them instantly recognizable. Thatched in a tall triangular fashion, the two halves coming together resemble that of two hands coming together in prayer. There are varying opinions on the reasons for this style of roofing during its construction such as to withstand the heavy snowfall during winter to prevent them from caving in. But also, as a way to maximize space in the roof in this limited plot of land. Either way, it is evident that these homes are a physical representation in maintaining the culture of this area and makes you feel as if you have stepped through time walking around the place.
Okuhida is a mountainous area which offers impressive mountain hikes and skiing opportunities in winter.
Another great feat of the area is the Hida Great Limestone Cave: nestled between Takayama and the Okuhida, you will find this monstrous work of nature below that was believed to have formed over 250 million years ago. Discovered in 1965 and found at an elevation of above 900 metres over sea level, this limestone cave is acknowledged as the highest one in the whole of Japan. With tunnels that snake throughout the Earth’s crust for a length of 800 metres, the wild adventure into this mysterious cave will constantly have you on edge. Decorated with bedazzling lights to illuminate the limestone, which would otherwise be shrouded in an endless coating of pitch-black darkness, heightens the interesting shapes and formations of the stalactites. However, what makes this limestone cave peculiar compared to others is the occurrence of helictites. These are strange stalactites that are curved or angular in any direction. From its appearance, the odd formations of these make it look as if they were created in space with no gravity and it is extremely rare to see. This is evident from the fact that this is also the only cave in the whole of Japan where you can find this. Given its geographical location deep within the Earth, temperatures inside are stable and cool, making it a viable attraction to visit during any point of the year.