Gifu Prefecture is just north of Aichi. Many of the most interesting places are literally only a few minutes across the border. The views from Gifu Castle are stunning, the cormorant fishing on the river below on par with Inuyama, and the long and fascinating history of Gifu is such that the local museums are always a good test of your Japanese level.

Nearly double the size of Aichi geographically, Gifu stretches far into the mountainous regions of the north. The UNESCO World Heritage listed villages of Shirakawa-go are in Gifu, and the Japan alps rise up to over 3000 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level. Volcanoes such as Mount Ontake have erupted as recently as September 2014.

In the winter, the heavy snowfalls turn Gifu into a playground. The ski-fields, the onsens, the incredibly good food such as the amazing Hida Beef. Only Nagano comes close. In the summer, the cooler alpine air brings respite from the heat and humidity of the coast. Towns such as Takayama, Furukawa and Gujo Hachiman (famous in particular for the Bon Dancing) are great to explore.

Gifu is also the gateway from Aichi to the city of Kanazawa. Always worth a visit.

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