Gifu Castle, formerly known as Inabayama Castle, was Saito Dosan during the Warring States Period. Perched atop a rocky hill, this castle was reputed as being impregnable, and it was said that "whoever conquers Mino (the former name of this region) conquers the entire country." In 1567, Oda Nobunaga, an unparalleled hero, conquered the castle and the entire region, changing the name from "Inokuchi" to "Gifu" and making the castle his base for unifying the country.
Gifu Castle, the symbol of Gifu City, is a three-layer, four-floor structure with an exhibition room for historical materials inside the castle and an observatory from upstairs.
Gifu Castle is one of the tallest castles in existence today (329 meters above sea level), and from the top floor, the majestic Nagara River, famous for its cormorant fishing, can be seen flowing through the city below. To the east, Mt. Ena and Mt. Kiso-Mitake offer a magnificent view, and to the north, Norikura and the Japan Alps line the mountain. To the west are the mountain ranges of Ibuki, Yoro, and Suzuka, and to the south is the rich, open Nobi Plain, with a panoramic view of the Kiso River flowing into Ise Bay.
The Gifu Castle Museum is located just east of the castle tower. The former armory and food storage area have been reconstructed in a corner turreted castle structure and house exhibits of historical documents, armor, swords, and other significant materials related to the Warring States Period (late 15th to late 16th century) and the Edo Period (1603 - 1868).
After the war Oda Nobunaga moved to Azuchi Castle, his son Oda Nobutada took over Gifu Castle, but after the Honnoji Incident (1582, when Oda Nobunaga was attacked by his vassal Akechi Mitsuhide for rebellion), the castle was handed to Nobutaka Oda, Terumasa Ikeda, Hidekatsu Toyotomi, and Hidenobu Oda. After the Battle of Sekigahara (1600,) a battle that divided the country between the Eastern Army led by Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Western Army led by Ishida Mitsunari, the castle was abandoned in 1601. The present castle was reconstructed in 1956, and the Mt. Kinka area was designated as a national historic site in 2011 as "Gifu Castle Ruins."
Getting there and around
■From Nagoya Station, take the Meitetsu or JR line to Gifu Station (approx. 20-30 min.)
■From JR Gifu Station or Meitetsu Gifu Station, take the Gifu Bus (15 min.) to "Gifu Park & History Museum-mae," walk 3 minutes to the ropeway at the foot of Mt. Kinka then ride it up to the summit.
In "Shincho Koki," a chronicle of Oda Nobunaga's life, it is written, "He moved from Mount Komaki in Owari Province to Mount Inaba in Koshu Province and the name 'Iguchi' was changed to 'Gifu' with the intention of unifying the country under the rule of the Emperor. Oda Nobunaga renamed his new abode "Gifu Castle."
Mt. Kinka Ropeway／金華山ロープウェイ
The ropeway takes visitors from Gifu Park to the summit of Mt. Kinka in around 4 minutes. This ride is the perfect opportunity to take in the primeval forest, the natural beauty of the Nagara River, and the view of Gifu City below. Upon arriving at summit station, visitors are greeted with Squirrel Village, a shop, and a restaurant with a breathtaking view. The ropeway operates at night during the summer every year, attracting a multitude of visitors who marvel at the night view.
Cherry blossom viewing in Gifu Park
The area from Gifu Park, where Gifu Castle is located, to the banks of the Nagara River is home to 400 cherry trees, including Someiyoshino cherry trees, mountain cherry trees, and Edohigan cherry trees. The trees cover a stretch of about 1 km, and draws hordes of visitors each spring to view the cherry blossoms in all their splendor. The Edohigan cherry tree, also called "Ukai-zakura" (meaning "cormorant cherry tree" in Japanese), is said to be 100 years old, with a trunk circumference of 2.5 m and a height of 8 m.
Mt. Kinka, where Gifu Castle is located, has a number of climbing courses that allow visitors to reach the summit on foot. Depending on your level, there are courses ranging from beginner to advanced that take about 30 minutes to one hour to complete. One could even opt to take the ropeway up and walk down, or vice-versa.
Travel Advice and Tips
The image of Gifu Castle towering above Mt. Kinka and a huge full moon has become a hot topic, spreading on social networks and even making headlines in mainstream media. If you check the position of the moon on the night of a full moon to actually witness it in its moment of glory, the sheer beauty of the castle aglow in the moonlight will compel you to cry out in joy.
Gifu Grand Hotel is a resort inn located at the foot of Mt. Kinka which features Gifu Castle on its summit, and views of the abundant nature of the clear Nagara River in front of the hotel. Shuttle buses are available from JR and Meitetsu Gifu stati....