Gifu: The Land of Clear Waters


Letting ‘Gifu, the Land of Clear Waters’ flow to the world

Approximately 80% of Gifu Prefecture is forest, and the land is blessed with clean, clear waters which are sustained by the rich forests that grow within its boundaries. Valuable natural, cultural and industrial resources, as well as traditions and beautiful landscapes are abundant in this natural environment which is rich in clear waters, clean air, and verdant greenery. Gifu is home to beautiful scenery, often regarded as representing the true essence of Japanese scenic beauty. Notable examples are the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed site of Shirakawa-go, the historic town of Hida Takayama, and cormorant-fishing on the Nagara River, each in its own way so typical of this land of clear waters. Gifu Prefecture also produces excellent food, such as its own premium Hida variety of Japanese wagyu beef cattle, and outstandingly sharp knives and fine Mino washi paper, a traditional industry handed down for 1300 years. All these products are the gifts of its clear flowing waters.

In recent years the world has come to have a better understanding of the wonders of “Gifu, the Land of Clear Waters.” Following the listing of the handcrafted techniques of Mino washi paper as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014, the Ayu of the Nagara River System was designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) the following year. At the end of last year three traditional “Yama, Hoko, Yatai” float festivals held in Gifu Prefecture were registered on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Gifu will continue to pass on its traditions and culture to future generations, rise to meet new challenges, and bring “Gifu, the Land of Clear Waters” to the attention of the world.




The Gifts from Gifu, the Land of Clear Waters


Traditional Crafts

Manufacturing has long flourished in Gifu Prefecture, and its local products are famous throughout the world. Among these are Mino washi paper, the Blades of Seki, Tono (East Mino Region) ceramics, and Hida woodwork. Traditional craftsmanship techniques, painstaking commitment, and manufacturing skills have been handed down from generation to generation during Gifu’s long history. These high quality products have helped to establish Gifu’s international reputation. While emphasizing tradition, these products also incorporate contemporary trends and preferences among the newer attractions that Gifu has to offer.



Mino washi paper

Over a history of more than 1300 years the ancient techniques of traditional craftsmanship have been preserved and passed down to create the soft-textured washi paper that combines fine beauty with durability. The handcrafted techniques of Hon-minoshi were registered on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2014.



Swordsmiths of Seki City

Japanese swords from Seki have a reputation for being“unbreakable, unbendable, and extremely sharp”and their practicality is highly regarded. Traditional craftsmanship has been passed down from generation to generation and today the swordsmiths continue to forge Japanese swords and introduce the culture of sword-forging.




Seki City is one of the world’s leading knife-producing areas. Although Japanese swordsmith traditions are still kept alive, new products reflecting present-day requirements and uses are also manufactured here.



Food Culture of Gifu


Hida beef

From cattle reared in the rich natural surroundings of the clear waters of Gifu comes finely marbled Hida beef. The elegant texture of this meat, incredibly soft and tender, almost melting in the mouth, is an edible work of art.




Gifu Prefecture, where clean waters flow, has been home to sake brewing since ancient times and many breweries compete for excellence. Cultivated by using the water from clear streams combined with high quality rice, Gifu’s sake has become popular abroad as well as at home


Traditional culture: Ji-Kabuki, festivals

Preserved, protected and passed from generation to generation since the Edo period, the traditional performance art of Ji-kabuki theatre is widely practised by local amateur actors in Gifu Prefecture. There are now 32 Ji-kabuki theatre preservation societies in Gifu Prefecture—the highest number nationwide. Regular performances are given in existing playhouses, and recently Ji-kabuki has gained tremendous popularity, with some performances even being held overseas.

Thirty-three “Yama, Hoko, Yatai” float festival events across Japan have been registered on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, including Gifu’s own Takayama Festival, Furukawa Festival, and Ogaki Festival. This is an ideal opportunity to further enhance the reputation of all of Gifu’s attractions and bring them to the attention of a wider audience, both within Japan and abroad.

伝統文化 ~地歌舞伎、祭り~



Takayama Festival

The Takayama Festival is the collective name for the Sanno spring festival and the Hachiman autumn festival. This splendid event witnesses an array of floats created with masterly artistic skill in which lanterns borne aloft illuminate the darkness of the night with spectacular luminescence.



Furukawa Festival

This sacred springtime event features both taiko drums to rouse brave spirits and beautifully decorated festival floats for both lively and static displays. During this unusual festival, held in the open air, several hundred half-clad men take to the streets carrying a parade float with a huge 80 centimeter taiko drum.



Ogaki Festival

A festival in a castle town with a history of more than 360 years. A total of 13 yama parade floats alive with bubbling action are drawn through the streets featuring stages for karakuri marionettes and dancing, like a spectacular scene depicted in a decorative ancient scroll.



Historic Sites


Udatsu-lined Old Streets of Mino

This town’s streets boast an array of traditional udatsu structures. It has been selected as an Important preservation district for groups of historic buildings. The Mino Washi “Akari” Art Exhibition using Mino washi paper is held here every October.



The Gassho-zukuri, settlement of Shirakawago (Shirakawa Village)

The Shirakawa Ogi-machi area is home to a collection of houses with rare steep-angled gassho-zukuri roofs and was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1995. Local residents still live here, preserving this historic collection intact.



Takayama Historic District

(Takayama City)

Lined with old-style souvenir shops, antique shops, old taverns, and more, a nostalgic atmosphere pervades this town.



Ayu of the Nagara River System

-Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems

The Nagara River is the symbol of Gifu Prefecture. Despite flowing through urban and residential areas, it is considered one of Japan’s three clearest rivers. The pristine waters are preserved and ayu (Japanese sweetfish) are raised on a basin that is home to 860,000 people. Both of these waters and ayu are deeply tied to the history, culture, and economy of the region. Ayu of the Nagara River System was declared as a GIAHS by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2015.

清流長良川の鮎 ~世界農業遺産~


Ayu fish growing in Gifu’s clear waters   l   清流で育つ鮎

Traditional craftwork using the clear waters of the Nagara River (Gujo-honzome dyeing)   l   長良川のきれいな水を利用した伝統工芸品(郡上本染め)


Gifu Prefecture is located almost exactly in the centre of Japan. The Hida area of northern Gifu contains mountains that rise to a height of over 3,000 metres above sea-level. The southern Mino area is home to a river basin into which flow the Kiso Sansen (the three Rivers of Kiso, Nagara, and Ibi). Manufacturing has been taking place here since ancient times, and manufacturing industries are central to the modern economy of Gifu Prefecture, with long-established and distinctive local industries including fashion, ceramics, furniture, woodworking, cutlery, paper, plastics and food.

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