Discover Japan #4: Gifu (THE EAST Campaign in Association with Japan National Tourist Organization London Office)

Gifu Prefecture is a prefecture located in the Chūbu region of central Japan. Its capital is the city of Gifu. Located in the center of Japan, it has long played an important part as the crossroads of Japan, connecting the east to the west through such routes as the Nakasendō. During the Sengoku period, many people referred to Gifu by saying, “control Gifu and you control Japan.”The land area that makes up modern-day Gifu became part of the Yamato Court around the middle of the fourth century. Because it is in the middle of the island of Honshū, it has been the site of many decisive battles throughout Japan’s history, the oldest major one being the Jinshin War in 672, which led to the establishment of Emperor Temmu as the 40th emperor of Japan. The land area of Gifu Prefecture consists of the old provinces of Hida and Mino, as well as smaller parts of Echizen and Shinano. The first character used comes from Qishan, a legendary mountain from which most of China was unified, whereas the second character comes from Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius. Nobunaga chose those characters because he wanted to unify all of Japan and he wanted to be viewed as a great mind.Historically, the prefecture served as the center of swordmaking in all of Japan, with Seki being known for making the best swords in Japan. More recently, its strengths have been in fashion (primarily in the city of Gifu) and aerospace engineering (Kakamigahara).On October 28, 1891, the present-day city of Motosu was the epicenter for the Mino-Owari Earthquake, the largest earthquake to ever hit Japan. The earthquake, estimated at 8.0 earthquake, left a huge cleft in the ground that can still be seen today.

One of the few landlocked prefectures in Japan, Gifu Prefecture shares borders with seven other prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Ishikawa, Mie, Nagano, Shiga and Toyama Prefectures. Japan’s postal codes all start with a three-digit number, ranging from 001 to 999. Part of Gifu has the 500 prefix, giving further proof of its location in the center of Japan. Gifu Prefecture has five unofficial regions, which allows local municipalities to work together to promote the surrounding area. The five regions are Seinō, Gifu, Chūnō, Tōnō and Hida. The borders of the regions are loosely defined, but they are usually delineated among major cities.The northern Hida region is dominated by tall mountains, including parts of the Japanese Alps. The southern Mino region is mostly made up of parts of the fertile Nōbi Plain, a vast plains area with arable soil. Most of the prefecture’s population resides in the southern part of the prefecture, near the designated city of Nagoya. The mountainous Hida region contains both the Hida Mountains,which are referred to as the “Northern Alps,” and the Kiso Mountains, which are known as the “Central Alps” in Japan.

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