Just 20 minutes away from Nagoya by JR train, Gifu is an interesting city filled with traditional culture in Japan. The cormorant (Ukai) fishing is an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan. It is a traditional fishing method of using wildlife seabirds called cormorants to catch small trout (sweet fish) in the river. The history of cormorant fishing in Gifu dates back to 1,300 years ago. The catching season is between mid May to mid October every year. There are only 6 fishing families who bear the inherited title can do it. They still wear the traditional clothes, use the nail-free wooden boat made by hand, and go down the river every night during the catching season to go fishing. To observe this tradition, you will have to get on a boat on the Nagara River. It’s fascinating to watch!

The series of earthquakes with the mainshock of magnitude 7.0 and a foreshock of magnitude 6.2 in April 2016 had caused severe damage in Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures. Numerous structures collapsed. Thousands of people injured and more than 44,000 people being evacuated from their homes. One of the major damages is the Kumamoto Castle, one of the most famous castles in Japan. The whole castle, and some sightseeing spots in the area, including the Former Residence of Hosokawa Gyobu, Kumamoto City Museum and Kumamoto Prefectural Art Museum branch are still closed as of May 2017. Restoration work is in progress. You may only see the castle from the outside.

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