Hi, How are you doing?
I went to Gifu Castle a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed visiting the place so here’s some info to share. You can not only enjoy the view of the city from the top, but also learn the history (especially about the Warring/Samurai period in Japan).
If you have a chance, be sure to check this majestic castle!
About Gifu Castle
Gifu castle was originally named Inabayama Castle.
It is believed that Nikaido Yukimasa(a butler to the Kamakura Shogunate) was the first one to build fortress on the top of the Mt. Kinka in 1201.
Saito Dosan was the castle lord during the Warring period, and later on in 1567, Oda Nobunaga became the lord and subjugated the area.
He also renamed the area from Inokuchi to Gifu ,and the name of the castle became Gifu castle. With this castle as his base, Nobunaga fought to unify Japan for over 10 years. The castle fell just before the war of Sekigahara, when Nobunaga’s grandson, Nobuhide became a member of the West Squad, and the East Squad invaded the castle.
The castle was destroyed in 1601 ,and some of the structures (castle towers and turrets) were moved to Kano Castle.
The present castle we can visit is the one that was reconstructed in 1956.
You can enjoy the sight as Nobunaga had once viewed the world from the top of the castle(at 329m above sea level).
You can take a view of Nagara River(famous for cormorant fishing), city of Gifu, and tall mountains including the Japan Alps.
The observation area is open at night time occasionally from Spring until December.
About Oda Nobunaga
He was one of the most powerful feudal lords in the late 16th century.
He tried to unify Japan and gained control over most Honshu(main island).
Nobunaga was born on June 23, 1534, as the 2nd son of Oda Nobuhide, a daimyo in Owari (now part of Aichi prefecture).
Through his childhood, he was known for his strange behavior and people called him Outsuke (meaning, the Great Fool).
In 1551 Nobuhide died unexpectedly. It is said that Nobunaga threw ceremonial incense at Nobuhide’s funeral, acting outrageously.
To take responsibility for his misbehaviors and to teach Nobunaga the right way of serving as a samurai, his menter Hirate Masahide committed Harakiri (suicide to show obligation).
Some of the Oda clan were against him for his misbehaviors but Nobunaga destroyed those who came against him including his younger brother, Oda Nobuyuki (He had eliminated all opposition groups within the clan and Owari area by 1559).
Among a lot of legendary battles he had during the Warring period, one of the most famous is the Battle of Okehazama.
In 1560, he fought against Imagawa Yoshimoto (he was a powerful lord based in Suruga, present-day Shizuoka prefecture).
Yoshimoto had over 25,000 men, and they were marching toward Kyoto to expand his territories. One day at the narrow gorge of Dengaku-hazama, they were celebrating their victories.
Nobunaga, with only about 2,500 warriors, set some flags and dummy troops some distance away to get attention ,and at the same time, carried out a surprise attack from behind.
This led him to the victory and he became known by many warriors throughout Japan.
Later on, he changed the way people fight from using horses and swords to firearms and that brought him great success in conquering many areas in Japan.
At Gifu, he instituted Rakuichi Rakuza (Free market, free guild).
With this, he eliminated barriers such as taxes, unions, and trade guilds.
This stimulated the economy and the castle town flourished.
On June 23rd when he was 47, his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide rebelled against him at Honoji temple in Kyoto and Nobunaga killed himself in the burning temple.
He is still remembered as one of the most powerful, innovative historical figures.
Access to Gifu castle
To visit the castle, it is the best to use a bus from the train stations.
You can take a but at JR Gifu station or Meitetsu Gifu station and get off at Gifu Koen Mae(is is about 15 min travel) ,and walk to Mt. Kinka ropeway.
From there, you can get to the station near the top of the mountain.
You can then take a walk to Gifu castle.
Ropeway fare are 620yen for one way and 1,080yen for both ways.
To enter Gifu castle and Gifu castle museum located nearby, you need to pay the admission fee of 200yen.
Opening hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm during May 12 to Oct 16th, 9:30am to 4:30pm during Oct 17th to Mar 15th, 9:30am to 5:30pm during Mar 16th to May 11th.
There’s Gifu City Museum of History located near the Ropeway station, in Gifu park. You can learn about the culture and history of Gifu city there.
It has the permanent exhibition focused on Oda Nobunaga.
It hosts special exhibitions throughout the year displaying some historical art works. It is a good place to stop by before/after visiting Gifu castle.
・Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm (closed on Mondays, the day after national holidays, and during end of the year and new year holidays)
・Price: 300yen to enter
Historical places around
Just below the Mt.Kinka, there’s a temple called Shobo-ji, where a big Buddha is enshrined.
It is 13.63m in height and is the largest dry lacquer Buddha statue and also one of Japan’s Three Great Buddhas (others are Nara and Kamakura’s Buddhas. Some people claim that Takaoka’s Buddha to be one of the greatest).
It is a shrine beloved as the tutelary shrine of Gifu.
It is over 1,900 years old and it is believed that it was moved to its current location from Mt. Kinka by Saito Dosan.
By visiting Gifu castle, you can learn what the life during Samurai era was like.
Many festivals are held throughout the year in the area as well.
Among them, the most famous is Ngara river fireworks festival in the summer(on the last Saturday of July and 1st Saturday of August).
Over 30,000 fireworks are set of at the event and it is breathtaking.
Have fun visiting Gifu!
See you next time,