Gifu Castle on Mount Kinkazan


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Natural Scenery:Mountain and Valley
History:Castle and Historical Site, Treasure Hall and Museum


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Cultural Experiences(Vermilion Seal) / Walk / Photograph

Visit the castle of Oda Nobunaga, his main base for unifying the nation

Gifu Castle stands on the summit of Mount Kinkazan, overlooking the Nagara River from an elevation of 329 meters. Built in 1201 by Nikaido Yukimasa of the Kamakura shogunate, the castle is said to have been the first fortress constructed on the site. Gifu Castle was originally called Inabayama Castle, and during the Sengoku Period, it was the home fortress of Saito Dosan, the protagonist of the novel Kunitori Monogatari by Ryotaro Shiba. The lofty castle on the rocky crag was seen as impregnable, and even Oda Nobunaga, in his campaign to conquer Mino Province, was not able to attack it easily. Nobunaga finally took the castle in 1567 and became its lord. The surrounding area had been called Inoguchi, but Nobunaga renamed it Gifu. He also changed the name of Inabayama Castle to Gifu Castle and made it his base for unifying all of Japan. The name “Gifu” is associated with King Wen, the founder of the Zhou Dynasty in ancient China, whose seat of government was in Qishan. (The names “Gifu” and “Qishan” have nearly identical meanings.) Nobunaga poured his energies into restoring the castle town until passing his rule over the family to his son Nobutada in 1567. Nobunaga’s innovative policy of protecting free markets and open guilds made the town below Gifu Castle a center of bustling commercial activity.

A sweeping 360-degree view of the Nobi Plain from the summit of Mount Kinkazan!

The current castle was reconstructed in 1956, with an historical exhibit room inside and an observation deck on the top floor. The observation deck looks out over the Nagara River, which is famous for its cormorant fishing. To the east, one can see the massive forms of Mount Ena and Mount Ontake, while Mount Norikura and the Japan Alps are arrayed to the north. Far off to the west one sees Mount Ibuki, Mount Yoro, and the Suzuka Mountains, with the Nobi Plain opening out to the south, and beyond that, Ise Bay seeming to float in the distance.
There are many climbing routes on Mount Kinkazan, providing a wide variety of natural pleasures. You can go for a hike that gives you a view of the city of Gifu below, or follow a course that traverses several different wetland areas. There’s also a course where you can drink in the sound of birdsong and the sight of fresh greenery to your heart’s content. Or if you prefer, the Mount Kinkazan Ropeway aerial tramway will carry you to the summit in just three minutes, little more than the blink of an eye.
How about memorializing your visit to Gifu Castle with a sheet of commemorative calligraphy (with a red seal affixed)? Kanji characters saying “Gifu Castle” are written in bold brush strokes on Mino washi, the famous traditional paper of Gifu Prefecture.

Gifu Castle on Mount Kinkazan


18 Tenshukaku, Kinkazan, Gifu, Gifu Prefecture (at the summit of Mt. Kinka)


Mar. 16 to May 11: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
May 12 to Oct. 16: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Oct. 17 to Mar. 15: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
♦ New Year’s Day only: 6:30 am to 4:30 pm


Open daily


Adult, 200 yen; child (age 4–15), 100 yen




By Gifu Bus, board bus heading in direction of Nagarabashi, such as N80 bound for Takatomi, or the counter-clockwise Shinai-Rūpu-sen (loop bus) from JR Gifu or Meitetsu Gifu Sta., to Gifu Kōen Rekishi Hakubutsukan-mae, about 15 min. Then walk 3 min. walk to Gifu Park, and another 3 min. to Mt. Kinka Ropeway; to castle after ascent, walk about 8 min.

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