Surrounded by majestic mountains and lush greenery, Hida Furukawa is a quaint town north of Gifu Prefecture and not far from Takayama City. It is a throwback to the traditional streets and the charming architecture of old Japan, filled with history and culture.
Feel the warmth of the local people as they go about their daily lives and greet you with a friendly smile while you explore what this rural town has to offer.
The Kimono Experience: Ohbora Kimono Shop
In Japanese, kimono literally means “thing to wear” and it is the traditional clothing of Japan; but in the summer, a lighter yukata is usually worn by both men and women. You can experience wearing a yukata at Ohbora Kimono Shop, a family-owned charming store where you can select a yukata of your choice and walk around town.
If you have trouble picking one and putting it on, there is no need for worry as the owner will guide you through picking the color that best suits you as well as aid you in wearing the yukata. You’ll even get a pair of zori or geta,which are traditional Japanese sandals that match your yukata. Off you go to explore Hida Furukawa in style.
Rickshaw Tour Around Hida Furukawa Town
One of the best ways to get around town and learn more about the history of the buildings and landmarks is by a jinrikisha, which is Japanese for a man-powered rickshaw. Sit back and relax while the rickshaw driver takes you around and tells you about the history of each place. They will even help take pictures of you sitting in the rickshaw at the best photogenic spots such as Imamiya Bridge.
Lunch at Horinoue
When all that walking gets you hungry, it is time to sit down and enjoy some delicious Japanese cuisine. A famous spot with the locals is Horinoue. The noodles here are handmade and are extremely fresh, while the rich taste of the broth delivers an explosion of rich flavors.
If you are concerned about the portion of the food, there are two sizes from which you can choose—try a jumbo-sized bowl of soba that is big enough to feed a small family. The bowl can barely contain the humongous size of the vegetable tempura as it rests on top. On average, expect to pay 1,400 yen per bowl for these delicious noodles.
Hineno Art Museum & Café
In Hida Furukawa, there are many old-style houses called machiya. Some of these houses are home to independent and artisanal businesses. One of these places is Hineno Art Museum & Café, which is only a 5-minute walk from Hida-Furukawa Station. This cafe is also a museum where you can admire well-preserved historic artifacts that have been placed around the cafe.
Take a seat by the beautiful zen garden and enjoy a cup of coffee along with a slice of delicious cheesecake. The cozy space inside epitomizes a traditional Japanese tea house. The owner of the cafe is very friendly and engages in conversation about Hida, as well as explaining the history of the building.
Handwoven Studio YUHKOUBOU
Another calming activity is the timeless art of Ohbora fabric dyeing at Handwoven Studio YUHKOUBOU. They are known for their incredible handwoven products and their hand-dyed fabrics. You can partake in an interactive experience to make your very own personalized, hand-dyed bandana or handkerchief.
The studio is also a traditional machiya with a beautifully landscaped garden where you can take a stroll and enjoy the calming sounds of nature.
These handmade textiles are made using all-natural and local medicinal ingredients found locally within the Hida region. The experience is taught by a master craftsman and everything is meticulously planned and prepared so that you can enjoy the process calmly without worry.
Personalized Guided Tour of Hida Furukawa
Learn from a local on a personalized walking tour created by a Hida City volunteer and interpreter, Kumiko Iwatsuka. She speaks English and is very enthusiastic about teaching visitors about the culture and history of the town she lives in and loves.
Take a stroll through the local neighborhood and find out what it is like to live in the area as she greets friends along the way and interacts with them. She will point out things you might not have noticed by yourself, such as the kumo – famed cloud symbols that can be seen under the eaves of old machiya houses around Hida. These are traditional maker's marks from the craftsmen who built them.
Hida Furukawa Festival Exhibition Hall
Hida Furukawa is also famous for the Furukawa Festival, which takes place every year on the 19th and 20th of April. It is a must-see event if you ever get the chance to visit during that time, but if you are in the area and it is not festival season, do not worry. Near the city center, you can learn more about this festival at the Hida Furukawa Festival Exhibition Hall.
There are many exhibitions, including a 4K movie of the festival itself, but if you feel like you would like to try your hand at some of the festival performances there are several interactive displays where you can test your strength and fitness.
From strolling around town in a traditional yukata to eating huge bowls of handmade udon and even enjoying a personalized tour of a charming neighborhood by a friendly local, Hida Furukawa has many unique experiences if you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life in the city. Take a break from all the noise to experience a town that’s not only filled with character and culture but also prides itself in its history and people.
When evening descends, experience the friendly hospitality of a traditional ryokan accommodation at Ozekiya Ryokan. Here, the owner will go above and beyond to make your stay special and even offer some great conversation in the morning before you leave for your onward journey.
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