Hiking to Mont Kinka to Find Gifu Castle – A Castle in the Sky
Japanese Castles are usually located at the height of he city. Gifu Castle is the best example: perched at 329m of altitude, on top of the Mont Kinka, it offers a scenic view of the whole area. Dating from the 16th century, it occupied a strategic place. As an example, the castle was destroyed by the Tokugawas at the time of the battle of Sekigahara.
To reach Mt Kinka summit, you can either take a ropeway or hike to to the top. Either way, the journey starts at Gifu Park, located on the mountainside. When I visited Gifu Castle with my brother, we ran to the top not to miss the sunset. As you can see on the pictures, it was worth it, but it’s one of most tiring things I have done ! Walking at a normal pace, the hike should take 1h to 1h30. The path is well maintained, and it was quite playful to reach the top.
Approaching the summit, you can take a break at the Kinka Squirrel Village and at a Tonkatsu restaurant that offers a great paronama of Gifu City.
Although rebuilt in 1956, Gifu Castle has a certain charm. During sunset time, its gold ornaments sparkled in the sun. We couldn’t visit the interior of the castle as it was already closed at this time, but from my experience, the exterior of Japanese castles is way more interesting that the interior. Indeed, most Japanese castles have been rebuilt recently (due to bombing or fire) so the interior is modern. Nevertheless, you can learn about the history of the place inside and see relics from the time of samourai.
The panoramic view of Gifu city is impressive. You can see Kawari-machi, the historic partof the city. The Nagara River crosees the city. On the river, from may to october at night, you can experience the “Ukai” : cormorant fishing, typical of Gifu.
The castle is open everyday from 09:30 to 17:30.
The Kinkazan ropeway is open from 09:00 to 18:00 (1100 yen roundtrip). It offers panoramic night view during public holidays.