Receive the gift of culture intertwined with nature through the ages!
The city of Hida has mountains on every side. No wonder 93% of city land is forested, 70% with deciduous trees. The presence of these hardwoods ensures that plenty of minerals seep into the rivers and end up irrigating rice fields and watering other crops. Owing to the crystal waters and excellent rice, local brewers create superior sake. Blessed by the bounty of nature, Hida has developed its own distinctive culture of eating and drinking.
Interacting with nature, local people acquired famous skills. More than 1,000 years ago, in the Heian Period, Hida artisans were already in demand to work on temples and shrines in distant Nara and Kyoto. When they returned, they brought metropolitan culture to Hida, too. As an imperial fief of the shogunate, fused with that of the capital, Hida’s rich culture flourished. In ornate festival floats, streets of old townhouses, and other aspects of life, the traditions live on to today. (Hida’s Furukawa Festival – UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage – is something you have to see!)
Hida’s people – who have grown up blessed by nature, favored by history, and endowed with culture – are proud to share their food and drink, historical streets and buildings, and other things they cherish. They welcome you to connect with their deep-rooted way of living.
Sake culture closely linked to daily life
In the Hida area, alcohol has an important place in daily life.
For weddings and other celebrations, when food, money or donations are made, sake often accompanies them. During festivals, as well, liquor is brought to community centers. People say that alcohol eases the passage of the community through times of transition. Before any festival, any hall where people gather is plentifully stocked with liquor.
Songs traditionally sung at celebrations
At parties, after some food has been eaten and a few drinks downed, someone usually intones the start of a song called “Medeta” (or in the Furukawa area, “Wakamatsu-sama”). Everyone then joins in. Marking the end of formality, the finish of the song is the cue to move around and pour drinks for other people you want to greet. To ward off drunkenness, food is served and properly eaten. In this way, local wisdom is used so that food and drink maintain good fellowship at gatherings.
Zaigo-ryori is a traditional type of Hida meal. You can experience the local specialties of grilled Hida beef and hoba miso, and all sorts of seasonal treats. Zaigo-ryori is served at Yamakoshi-Ro, an old-established Japanese restaurant.
Strolling around town
Furukawa's townscape is one of Hida's highlights. The old streets still remain in the town dividing it up like a chess board. Enjoy the picturesque scenery and take your time strolling the Ninomachi-dori with its quaint rows of white-walled warehouses stretching about 500 m and retreats and shops standing side by side. You can stop by eateries serving local foods, and shops selling local specialties.
Mishima Japanese Candle Shop
A well-established handmade candle shop - a rarity in Japan - which has been going for more than 240 years. All ingredients are natural and are of vegetable origin. This prevents the candles from producing soot and from going out. The cross-section of the candle looks like tree rings, so the wick always stands up, and the candle lasts longer. They are popular souvenirs among tourists; the shop owner explains and demonstrates candle-making in the workshop for tour groups.
The Furukawa Festival (UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage)
The Keta Wakamiya Shrine's annual festival is a traditional shrine ritual nationally designated as a piece of important intangible folk-cultural property. The magnificent festival is centered on the parade of traditional portable shrines from the shrine and includes dynamic rousing drums, and a peaceful parade of floats.
Sake breweries in this region
Watanabe ShuzotenHida-shi, Gifu0577-73-3311
Ootsubo ShuzotenHida-shi, Gifu0578-82-0008
Kaba ShuzojoHida-shi, Gifu0577-73-3333