{Japan: Explore} Gifu Castle + Gifu Koen + Itagaki Taisuke

gifu castle

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: Gifu Park (Gifu Koen), Gifu Prefecture, located 20 minutes from Nagoya Station
  • When: June 2, 2012
  • Why: Because we are on a quest to see all the Itagaki Taisuke statues in the world! (never mind that there only 3 and they are all in Japan)
  • *Notes: from Gifu Station take a bus bound for Gifu Koen (#12 or #13),  Mt. Kinka Ropeway (1050 JPY roundtrip), Gifu Castle entry fee 200 JPY, you will need to climb lots of steps to reach the castle

Full Report:

If you read my blog post on Kochi Castle then you know that one of our reasons for going there was to see the Itagaki Taisuke statue.  M is directly related to him and he really wanted to see all 3 existing statues on this last visit.  As it is, one of the statues is in Gifu Park (Gifu Koen) so we decided to camp out in Nagoya for a night and take a little side trip to Gifu. 

With the exception of the day we went to Nara, this was the hottest day of our three-week trip.  By the time we arrived at Gifu Station it had to be in the 90s and it was HUMID.

gifu station

Gifu Station

We walked out of the station to search for a bus that would take us to Gifu Castle:

bus to Gifu Koen

Apparently, Bus #12 will work as well since it also stated Gifu Koen as a destination.  While we were waiting for our bus, an older Japanese gentleman approached me (M had wandered off somewhere) and addressed me as “Nee-san” (Sister).  He sat right next to me on the bench and asked me a number of questions about the cell phone I was holding in my hand.  While I can understand Japanese all right, speaking it is a whole different story.  I tried to employ my best pigeon Japanese but after a bit, he kind of shook his head sadly and shuffled away.

When we first boarded the bus we took a little slip of paper with a number on it.  There is a display in the front of the bus showing the fares for your number.  In my travel journal I wrote down that it cost us a total of 800 JPY to get to Gifu Koen.  This must have been the roundtrip fare because it only took around 15 minutes to get to our destination.  We did go one stop too far and had to backtrack to the entrance of the park:

front of Gifu Park

Gifu Koen ended up being very lovely:

gifu koen

gifu koen

gifu koen

As we were wandering through the garden, guess who we spied hiding in the trees?

itagaki taisuke

itagaki taisuke statue

It’s Itagaki Taisuke!

After taking a gazillion pictures of Mr. Itagaki, we set off to buy tickets to take the Mt. Kinka Ropeway up to the area where Gifu Castle is located.

mt. kinka ropeway car

Mt. Kinka Ropeway car. Costs 1050 JPY round-trip per person.

The ride was only a few minutes long, but very enjoyable thanks to the beautiful scenery:

mt kinka ropeway

gifu ropeway

gifu ropeway

Before I knew, it our little trip up the mountainside was over.  I had thought Gifu Castle would be close to the ropeway station but it was still quite a climb away.  Did I mention before how hot it was that day?  While I was chugging along at the pace of a snail, I seriously had doubts that I would be able to make it to the castle.  The most embarrassing part was that there were old ladies all around me who were briskly climbing the stairs without breaking a sweat.

And then finally Gifu Castle emerged through the trees!  Well, only the top part of it did, the rest of the castle was shrouded in leaves and branches.  It was actually impossible to take a good picture of the castle because of this.  Unfortunately, the main picture of this blog is the best picture we have of the castle.

I urged M to hurry and pay the the entry fee for the castle (200 JPY per person) so we could get inside where it would hopefully be a lot cooler.

gifu castle

Entryway to castle.

Inside was a little better but at that point I was so hot that my tongue was permanently hanging out of my mouth as I panted like a dog.  I ended up leaning against a lot of walls because they were cool to the touch.  They were also the only things keeping me from sliding to the ground.  We stayed on the first floor for a while because I couldn’t muster up the energy to keep moving upwards.  As bad as M felt for me, he really wanted to go to the top floor to take pictures of the city.  So I forced myself to start climbing.  Thank goodness it was only 3 floors and there was plenty to see:

gifu castle exhibit

gifu castle exhibit

gifu castle exhibit

gifu castle exhibit

gifu castle exhibit

I’m really sorry that I don’t have any pictures of the castle’s interior to show you.  In all honesty, it wasn’t very impressive, it felt and looked like a museum.  By that I mean simple, white-walled rooms with tiled floors.  It was nothing like Kochi Castle where I felt like I had been transported back in time.

Finally, we reached the top and M got his pictures of the city:

view of gifu from gifu castle

view of gifu from gifu castle

view of gifu from gifu castle

view of gifu from gifu castle

One thing I have to give Gifu Castle: because it was so elevated, it had the most spectacular views of any Japanese castle I’d been to.  After we made our way back down to the base of Mt. Kinka we took this shot of a beautiful red pagoda in the mountainside:

pagoda in gifu park

Then it was back to the bus stop to catch a ride to Gifu Station.