Japan Diaries 2: Day 17

Day 17 June 2, 2018

Gifu - Nagano Road Trip Day 3

Ohayou! Gotta love the weather here in Okuhida Onsen Village in Takayama City today. The clear and sunny skies are perfect for our itinerary today which are mostly outdoor destinations. 

Good morning from Nakaokogen Hotel Kazaguruma

Saw this monkey near our hotel... he was checking out those who were taking an early morning dip in the onsen

Mt. Yake could be seen from the distance

The manhole cover of Okuhida. It shows a hondo okojo which is known as an ermine or stoat in English

Mr. Toshi, checking out the Okuhida town map

Early morning stroll with Mr. Toshi and Ms. Taeko

Check out the beautiful view

However, since we plan to check out of Nakaokogen Hotel Kazaguruma at around 10 today, I decided to wake up early to stroll around and explore Okuhida Onsen Village. Just as I was about to leave the vicinity of our hotel, I saw Mr. Toshi and his wife Ms. Taeko coming out of the hotel to have an early morning stroll as well so I decided to tag along. During our stroll, Mr. Toshi and I talked about a lot of things mostly about travel but I was drawn to Mr. Toshi's life stories particularly his brushes with death in two of Japan's worst disasters -the crash of Japan Airlines 123 in 1985 and the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. 

There's even a foot bath known as the Achiya-mae

Here's the view from the town's foot bath area

Heading back to the hotel

Going back to our stroll, it was quite noticeable that the village has a handful of ryokan and guesthouses. There were also several spots worth checking out like the Achiya-mae or the onsen foot bath situated in what looks like a park and the Hoshinokane Bell. However, what really caught my attention and admiration were Mt. Yake and Mt. Yarigadake which serves as a perfect backdrop for the village. Since the skies were clear, the peaks of the said mountains were both visible adding to their beauty.

Had a bit of a photoshoot before we ate breakfast

The view going to our next destination was majestic!

Welcome to Shin-Hotaka Ropeway

Boarding the ropeway to Nabedairakogen Station

We then transferred to another ropeway to reach Nishihotakaguchi Station

Look who's enjoying the view

This is the only place in Japan where you'd see a double-decker ropeway

We got back to our hotel just in time for breakfast. Thankfully, my wife and daughter were already prepared and were just waiting for us. Our meal was a very palatable western style buffet breakfast. We then checked out after our meal and drove to Shin-Hotaka Ropeway which was only a few kilometers away from the hotel. We rode the ropeway to Mt. Hotaka's Nabedairakogen Station. From there we walked a few meters and transferred to Shirakabadaira Station and rode Japan's only double-decker ropeway going to Nishihotakaguchi Station at Mt. Nishihotakdake.

The spectacular view from Nishihotakaguchi Station's roof viewing deck

Sharing with you some of our photos from the roof viewing deck

Team Nicerio at Shinhotaka Ropeway

The highlight of the trip was the spectacular view of the surrounding snowcapped mountains which are dubbed the Japanese Alps. Since Nishihotaguchi Station was at 2150m up the mountain, it was quite tempting to hike the remaining 759m to Mt. Nishihotakadake's peak. However, I wasn't equipped for it as my shoe was not designed for trekking.
Shirakabadaira Station

Onsen hard-boiled eggs!

Gotta try this out... It's just 100 yen

Rest at Sengoku Park

We rode the ropeway back to Shirakabadaira Station but before continuing down, we decided to rest at Sengoku Park and try out the onsen cooked egg. We didn't stay long though as we still have to drive to Gifu City for the last leg of our Day 17 trip. 

I knew we were in Gifu City when I saw the Gifu Castle on top of the mountain... Can you see it?

Finally met Ms. Kayako -Mr. Toshi's sister

Since Gifu City is 179 kilometers away, we decided to eat our lunch at Hirugano Kougen which was a roadside rest stop at the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway. Speaking of Gifu City, it is very special to Mr. Toshi as it is his hometown. His sister Ms. Kayako also resides there. We reached Gifu City after a 3-hour drive. We proceeded to the house of Ms. Kayako after which she accompanied us to the nearby grocery to shop for our food to bring with us later while watching the Ukai (Gifu's traditional cormorant fishing) at the Nagara River

Our place for the night - Juhachiro 

Going to our room

Our room at Juhachiro

Check out the manhole cover of Gifu City featuring some Ukai

After shopping for our food, we bid Ms. Kayako goodbye and then drove to Juhachiro (ryokan) where we are booked for the night. That afternoon, we got on a boat after purchasing a ticket to watch the traditional Ukai

Ella as an usho for the day

An usho explaining the ukai to the visitors

Boarding our boat

We had an early dinner while waiting for the event to start

Since the event starts at night, the tour boats parked at the river bank. While waiting we ate the food that we bought. I also got to interview our boatman about Ukai and  I was surprised at how he explained it thoroughly in fluent English. After the sun sets completely, fireworks were lit to announce the start of the event, with the establishments at the riverside dimmed or turned off their lights in cooperation with the event. A little later, a row of 6 boats navigated their way in the river and our boats followed at the side. We watched how the usho (cormorant master) and his cormorants fish. It was truly a memorable experience witnessing the thousand-year-old tradition. 

The usho at work during the Ukai festival

Can you spot the cormorants?

The event lasted for about an hour and I was amazed by how the town's people preserved their ancient traditions. It was also a dream come true for me actually as I have really wanted to see it after reading about it years back. That night, I made sure to take a dip at the onsen of Juhachiro before calling it a night. While soaking, I can't help but wonder what I did right to deserve these blessings.

Overall, this day was truly a memorable one. Japan's beautiful environment and rich culture made me want to explore and maybe live in Japan in the future. 

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NEXT: Japan Diaries 2: Day 18


  1. Great photos! Loved this post! I've never been to Japan so that makes this post more interesting, haha. Glad to see you had fun!

  2. Beautiful trip photos! And it is pretty neat you saw the monkey out running around.

    1. Hahaha. Actually there were three of them. the other two jumped when they saw me.

  3. Oh wow that car over the trees and mountains look incredible! and terrifying! haha

  4. What a beautiful sight to behold! The mountain range looks so majestic! This is another one for the bucket list. Your photos are always so stunning. May I ask, what camera do you use?

    1. hello Cendu! Thank you so much! I use Nikon D3100 and Sony Xperia.

  5. I love Japan! I went to Kinosaki Onsen Town when I was there. I also blogged about it and the rest of my trip on my blog. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think!

    1. Hi Lorita! Would love to see that! Would you be kind enough to share the link?

  6. Wow! The place is amazing with greenery all over.

    1. Gifu Prefecture is really a lesser known paradise in Japan.

  7. Replies
    1. I am. =) You should come visit Gifu Prefecture as well.

  8. I have never been there but I would love to be there. Such a lovely place. Seems you had a great time.

    1. My family and I surely had a great time. =) Please do visit Gifu when you are in Japan.

  9. Such a beautiful place! So many amazing photos! Love it!

  10. Inhave been to Tokyo, but so want to go to Kyoto . The pictures are gorgeous

  11. Love the nature view! Sounds like you and your Family have a good trip awesome photos.

    1. We did have a great time Maysz. Thank you for visiting my blog.

  12. What an amazing experience from day to night time! More Japan adventure please!

    1. Thank you Blair. =) Please do follow our Japan Diaries 2 adventure for more of this.

  13. That ropeway ride must have been thrilling

    1. It was! You can check out my article about Shinhotaka Ropeway to read more about it.

  14. You are living the dreams 🤗 love the Japanese manhole covers they are so cool 👍🏻 I would love to visit Japan.

    1. You'd love the manhole covers. Each city/town has their own unique cover. =)

  15. Thank you so much. I hope this inspired you to visit Gifu Prefecture in the future.

  16. I love Japan and its peacefulness and cleanliness. It really is a nice destination.

    1. I agree with you. =) How I wish I could come back soon. =)


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