Predominantly rural, northern Gifu Prefecture — including the cities of Hida, Gero, Takayama, and the village of Shirakawa— is still known by the historical name of Hida. Geographically, with much forested highland terrain, it comprises basins surrounded by steep mountains at the western end of the Hida Mountain Range, and it has the heavy winter snows typical of the Japan Sea climate.
Historically, referred to in various kanji combinations read as “Hida,” the land is mentioned both in Japan’s earliest chronicles and in the ancient Man’yōshu anthology of poems. Even in those distant times, woodworkers from the area were famed for their formidable skills.
Attracted by pristine scenic beauty — both of old towns such as Hida Takayama and rural areas such as the World Heritage Historic Village of Shirakawa-go with its distinctive, steeply sloped gasshō-zukuri roofs — by one of Japan’s top-three onsens, and by famous festivals, including the rousing drum procession of the Hida Furukawa Matsuri, increasing numbers of overseas visitors have been coming to Hida to experience unspoiled Japan.
Presenting rows of white-walled merchant storehouses, Hida Furukawa, the town at the center of this rural municipality, conjures a feeling of nostalgia. A lasting impression is also created by the clear waters of the Setogawa, channeled through street-side watercourses and colored by about 1,000 swimming koi. Proposals are constantly being made for new activities, and you will discover more and more ways to enjoy your visit.
Ranking alongside Arima and Kusatsu as one of the top three hot-spring spas in Japan, in the Muromachi period (ended 1573), Gero was already famous for its waters.
In town, you can get a Hot-Spring Pass to try different baths, and there are also footbaths to ease your feet as you enjoy sightseeing, gourmet dining, and the other varied attractions of this lively resort.
As you walk around the old town, the core of the city where the streets retain the look and feel of feudal times, you will enjoy impressions of the skill of Hida artisans. Relax in the leisurely flow of highland time, let yourself be transported to another age, and feel to the fullest the lasting grace of Hida.
In 1995, the historic village of Shirakawa-go was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage. Characterized by thatched gasshō-zukkuri roofs, which are steeply inclined and able to withstand the heavy winter snowfalls, for hundreds of years the buildings here have supported the lives of residents who coexist with nature. In Shirakawa-go you can feel the flow of this continuity of life.