There is a stone-paved road remaining in Ochiai, Nakatsugawa City, Gifu Prefecture. In the late Edo period (1603-1868), stone-pavement work was given to the road between Ochiai Jikkyoku Pass and Magome-juku Post Station of the Nakasendo Road, because this section was very steep and difficult to go through.
According to the historical record, the pavement was repaired for the procession of Princess Kazunomiya, who was on her journey to Edo for the marriage to the emperor in 1861. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), a part of the pavement was cleared away for a construction work, as a result of which only a part of the original pavement remained.
In 1988, a restoration work was given to the section of 840 m in total length. Together with the historic sites of Honjin and the large iron pot in Ochiai-juku Post Station and the stone monument inscribed with “Kisoji Road, further ahead” written by Toson Shimazaki, a novelist in the Meiji period, this stone-paved road will bring the travelers back to the old times.
Hida Shunkei lacquer ware is a traditional handicraft in the cities of Takayama and Hida in Gifu Prefecture. The origin of this craft dates back to 1606. A head carpenter, who were engaged in building temples and shrines in the castle town of Takayama, happened to discover beautiful straight grains, when he chopped a piece of sawara cypress wood apart. He made it into a tray and lacquered the surface. Because the coloring of this tray resembled “Hishunkei,” a famous tea ceremony tea jar made by master potter, Kato Kagemasa, the name Shunkei was given to this lacquer ware.
What makes Hida Shunkei lacquer ware so special is the way that the beauty of the surface of the wood is brought out by the application of a transparent coating of lacquer. It is also characterized by its delicate technique of hegime (grooves that are carved out between the wood grains). When exposed to the light, the grains with hegime grooves glow gold through the transparent lacquer. The more it is used, the more gloss it takes on. Hida Shunkei is extremely appealing and robust form of lacquer ware.
The paper used for a census preserved at Shosoin Repository is thought to be Japan’s oldest paper. They are thought to have been made in Mino, Chikuzen and Buzen; thereby it is thought that a history of paper making in the Mino dates back to the Nara period (710-794).
Genuine Mino Paper is made from a superior grade of paper mulberry grown only in Ibaraki Prefecture. It is characterized by its traditional hand filtering method, not only by vertical shaking but also by horizontal shaking, by which all the fibers “knit” together leaving no evidence of the forming process on the surface.
In the Edo period (1603-1868), it was very popular especially for the sliding door of the traditional house. Its uniformly excellent quality was ideal for translucent paper screens.
Genuine Mino Paper is now used for sliding doors, documents that need to be preserved and conservation of cultural properties. Its high quality and depth of flavor attracts a lot of users. In 1976, the techniques of making Genuine Mino Paper were designated as Important Intangible Cultural Property. As the holders of this traditional technique, the members of the Genuine Mino Paper Preservation Association are making efforts to hand down their skills to the next generation.
Lake Okuyahagi located near the southern border of Gifu Prefecture is a dam lake formed by Yahagi Dam constructed in 1970. It functions as the downstream reservoir of Yahagi- Daiichi (No.1) and Daini (No.2) Electric Power Plants, which employs pumped-up hydropower. It is always full of water and provides water for the surrounding areas.
Nature remains intact in the area around the lake. A variety of small animals inhabit in the mountains, while Amago and pale chub live in the clear stream. The landscape of the lake changes from season to season. A lot of visitors come to enjoy cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves from mid to late November. It is the scenic spot, where various outdoor activities can be enjoyed.
Shino Ware is most identifiable for a squat and cylindrical shape with thick white glazes. It is one of the Mino-styled pottery, which started to be made in the Azuchi-momoyama period in the late 16th century. Using glazers mixed with feldspar and iron oxide, various colors are created. The color variation from white, gray, to red depends on the combination of the glazers and the firing time and method.
It was favored by tea masters of the time, but was gradually declined because many potters all over the country started to copy the style of this pottery, by which Shino ware lost its originality and were gradually fogotten by people.
It was in 1930 when Shino ware was revived by the hands of Toyozo Arakawa. Having been born in the Mino region, he had a special affection for Shino pottery and discovered the old Momoyama kiln. Then he developed the first modern Shino glaze by studying Monoyama Shino pots. Since then he had actively fired his Mino wares in a kiln very much like those of the Momoyama potters and contributed to the revival of this old pottery. Today, a lot of potters are fascinated by this pottery and eager to create thir original Shino pottery works.
Ryujin (Dragon God) Fire Festival is held on the first day of Gero Onsen Festival, which is held for three days from the first Saturday in August in a famous hot spring town of Gero in Gifu Prefecture. The festival is based on a legend “Wan-kase-buchi” and was first held in 1970.
The legend has it that there lived a dragon god in a deep pool named “Wan-kase-buchi (Bowl Lending Pool)” in the Hida River near the village. Whenever the villagers needed expensive bowls and plates for a cerebration banquet, they went to the pool and asked the dragon god to lend some. However, one villager did not return one of the borrowed bowls and kept it for himself, at which the dragon god was angry and got on a rampage until finally he got it back.
In the festival, reenacting the rampage of the dragon god, the men controlling five dragons, each of which is 20 m in length and weighs 250 kg, perform valiant dances, chasing after the mikoshi carrying a big bowl. The scene of the dragons belching fire from fireworks set in the mouths in the midst of big sounds of drums and gongs and sparks of handheld fireworks is really dynamic.
The Amida Waterfall in Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture is in the upstream of a tributary of the Nagara River. It was named so, because when the priest Doga of Choryuji Temple at the foot of the mountain was burning a Goma fire for the ascetic training, the image of Amida Nyorai emerged out of the water.
The waterfall, which rushes down the 60 m cliff with a roaring sound, is said to be the best waterfall in the Tokai region. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. The water is so clear that if you stand in front of the waterfall with your back against the rising sun, you can see your own reflection surrounded by dim rainbow in the spray of water, which looks very fantastic.
The waterfall creates different impressions from season to season; with fresh green in spring, cool air in summer and crimson foliage in fall, and the frozen waterfall at midwinter.
Oniiwa Park is a scenic spot in Hida-Kisogawa Quasi-National Park. It is located along the mountain stream flowing into Lake Matsuno, which is near the headstream of the Kako River. There are a lot of strange-shaped granite rocks towering along the gorge. Each rock is named according to its shape such as Usu-iwa (Mill Rock), Taro-iwa, Hasami-iwa (Scissor Rock), Byobu-iwa (Folding Screen Rock) and Gyoja-iwa (Mountain Practitioner Rock). There are three routes to walk through the park, which include “Iwato-kuguri Course,” where visitors can enjoy going through an 80-meter-long and narrow tunnel.
The name “Oni-iwa (Ogre’s Rock)” is derived from the legend that once upon a time there lived an ogre named Seki no Taro. In the park is the cave, which is believed to have been his dwelling. At the Bean-scattering Ceremony on Setsubun (February 3) held in this park, the throwers chant “Demons in! Luck in!” in stead of chanting “Demons out! Luck in!”
The granite rocks that have been eroded for tens of millions of years give fine contrast to the deep forest, where visitors can enjoy various seasonal changes including cherry blossoms in spring, fresh green in summer and crimson foliage in fall.