Thursday, November 06, 2014

Hiking : Mt Kinka, Gifu Castle and Gifu Park

Few weeks back we decided to go hiking. The weather is getting cooler and it is the perfect time to go on hikes. We decided to hike up Mt Kinka in the neighbouring Gifu Prefecture. 

Mt Kinka is a 329 meter high mountain in Gifu city in Gifu Prefecture. Hikers can choose from 4 trails with different levels of difficulty to hike up the mountain. The Meisoku no Komichi trail is the easiest of the four trails but it has some difficult stretches too. Our daughter was so excited about the hike that she was leading us in the hike. Apparently her teacher had hiked up the mountain in summer and had shared her experience in the class. Looks like that was the motivating factor ! 

Those who are not so keen to hike can ride the Mt Kinka Rope way which takes 3 minutes to reach the top. The hiking trails take about 76 to 90 minutes to reach the top. We hiked the Meisoku no Komichi (Meditation path)trail while ascending and we walked down the Hyaku Magari (Hundred turns)Trail on our way back. The Hyaku Magari trail is 1100 meters long but very steep while the Meisoku no Komichi trail is 2900 meters long but is comparatively easier to hike. All the trails begin from or near the large Gifu Park. The rope way station is also in the Gifu Park. 
The historic Gifu castle is on top of Mt Kinka. The castle was built in the 13th century and was previously called the Inabayama castle and belonged to the Saito clan till it was captured by Oda Nobunaga, one of the three powerful lords in the history of Japan. He built his home near the foot of the Mt Kinka. 

The current keep is a 1956 construction and was restored again in 1997. Various artifacts are displayed inside the castle on its 3 floors. 

Armours, arms, pottery and paintings provide an insight into the life of the feudal lords of that era. Various pictures and boards explain the history of Oda Nobunaga and the Gifu castle. 
An interesting Western Clock stands at the entrance to Gifu castle.

The view of Gifu city, the Nagaragawa river, the Japan Alps in the background and even the skyscrapers of Nagoya can be enjoyed from the observation deck on the topmost floor of castle.

Mt Ontake, an active Volcano which was in the news recently for its eruption, can be seen in the background. 

The Gifu castle museum near the castle also has some artifacts on display. Close by is the Reesumura - squirrel village is small petting zoo where visitors can feed and play with tame squirrels. 

After our hike we also walked around Gifu park. 

A vermillion pagoda stands at the foot of Mt Kinka. 
The Japan China Friendship garden is a small park with attractive Chinese architecture. 

The garden was constructed in 1989 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of friendship between Gifu city and Hangzhou city in China. 

We also visited the Gokoku Shrine, a Shinto Shrine close to Gifu park. 

Before returning home, we also stopped by at the Shoho-ji Temple, which houses the Great Buddha of Gifu, one of the three Great Buddhas' of Japan. I will cover it in a separate post. 

Address:  Gifu prefecture 500-8003, Gifu city, Gifu Koen 

Phone: 058-263-4853

Opening hours : Gifu castle : 9:30-17:30 hrs (closing 16:30 between Oct-March)  
                          Mt Kinka Ropeway: 9:00-18:00 hrs ( closing 17:00 hrs between Oct-March)

Entrance fees : Gifu Park : free
                         Gifu Castle : Adults 200 yen ; Children 100 yen 

Parking : Ample Free car parking available near the riverside car parking lot. 

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