The Nagara River – Begin Your Travels in Gifu City and Feel the Healing Power of Nature | CoolJapan

Surrounded by rolling forested hills and bisected by one of the country’s clearest rivers, Gifu City and its neighbouring areas are perfect to escape the stressors of larger metropolises and recharge both your mind and your body.

Begin your journey by taking in the best of the area’s scenery. The most striking landmark is Gifu Castle, which is perched more than 300m high atop Mt. Kinka. Visitors can take the ropeway or hike 40 minutes to an hour to the top, depending on the route. From there, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the Nagara River. 

©Nagara River Basin Kur Park Resort

For those who want to explore a little further afield while stretching their legs, an e-bike tour with Ridas is a must. Experienced guides offer a variety of routes to suit your interests, from riverside paths soaking up the charming scenery and local architecture to voyaging up to Kinkansan Driveway Observatory and beyond. The e-bikes are comfortable, smooth and powerful, allowing you to effortlessly glide through the countryside — although, of course, you can adjust the power level if you want a challenge!

©Nagara River Basin Kur Park Resort

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to tuck into the local cuisine. The Nagara River is central to understanding this. Its high water quality has allowed the ayu (sweetfish) population to flourish, and this has become a local delicacy found widely throughout the town. In fact, ayu has been enjoyed by local people in the area for centuries — a testament to the sustainability of the local way of life. The area is one of the few left in Japan that carries out cormorant fishing for ayu, a traditional practice with around 1,300 years of history. In summer, you can take a special dinner cruise to witness this spectacular ritual and also enjoy some shioyaki ayu or salt-encrusted, skewered and freshly grilled ayu.

For more ayu cuisine, head to Kawaramachi Izumiya for ayu meshi, which is ayu cooked on rice inside an earthenware pot. Or take a trip to Shokudo Koyori in the historic district of Kawara-machi, where many of the original merchant houses remain intact. The popular restaurant often serves ayu in its seasonal lunch, along with local produce and vegetables, which can be enjoyed while sitting in a stylish interior with a view of a small but charming Japanese garden.

Those interested in kampo (traditional Chinese medicine) can take a trip out to the mountains in Seki City, located northwest of Gifu city to Shinyakusaikaen. There you’ll find a medicinal herb garden with around 150 kinds of herbs and trees. A kampo pharmacist will walk you through the garden and explain all the amazing healing properties that can be found in nature. Some of these organic medicinal plants can then be sampled in a nourishing lunch served up by Ganjin-kojiyudo, the neighbouring guest house. 

©Nagara River Basin Kur Park Resort

No relaxing trip is complete, however, without spending the night in some comfortable accommodation, and Gifu City has no shortage. One great option is Hotel Park, which overlooks the Nagara River and boasts a rooftop onsen with views of the castle. Soak and let the stresses and tensions of the day leave your body while breathing in the clear countryside air. The hotel can also arrange treatments by a certified therapist, who will assess your physical condition and can provide massage, acupuncture and other therapies, ensuring a holistic approach to your wellness. 

©Nagara River Basin Kur Park Resort

With a unique local culture and an abundance of unique experiences, the area of Nagara River is the perfect place to relax, revitalise yourself, and reconnect with a more sustainable way of life. 

For an e-bike tour with Ridas, a visit to Shinyakusaikaen, and a treatment by a certified therapist, please contact Nagara River Basin Kur Park Resort at [email protected].

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Phoebe is a multimedia journalist and food-obsessed storyteller. She can often be found eating, cycling and exploring, sometimes all at the same time.
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