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Mt. Kinka (金華山)


A 329 meter tall mountain located in the center of Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture. Gifu Castle, former home of the mighty samurai Oda Nobunaga, towers at the top of the mountain. The mountain was once called Mt. Inaba, but it came to be called “Kinka,” “golden blossom,” due to the many Japanese Chinquapin trees which grow on its slops and turn the mountain gold with their blossoms in early May. Gifu Park is located at the foot of the mountain and a ropeway travels from here to the top of the mountain in about four minutes. A facility called Squirrel Village, where visitors can see a variety of squirrels living comfortably and freely in natural environments, is located near the mountaintop ropeway station as well as a store and scenic overlook restaurant, and many people visit this popular destination.


Gifu-shi, Gifu Prefecture (Gifu / Ogaki / YoroArea)

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Gifu-shi, Gifu Prefecture [map]
Gifu / Ogaki / YoroArea
Daisando Hiking Course: This trail climbs gently northward from Dachiboku Hiking Course up the southern face of Mt. Tosan and connects to Hanataka Hiking Course. Unusually for Mt. Kinka's trails, there's very little exposed rock on the one kilometer trail, so this course is easy to walk, with little stress on the knees, and so quite popular. Near the mid-section of the course, magnolia trees spread across the sky, overlapping to create a tunnel of trees. The magnolia leaves have a strong scent and contain antibacterial agents, so they have long been used to wrap and make food like magnolia miso.
Karakama Hiking Course: This two kilometer course connects the Nana-magari trail and the Tozaka hiking course across Mt. Kinka's south face. Since the course goes across the face, it's an essentially flat, level path. The wind blows perpendicular to the path, and as you walk you can see how the trees grow diagonally in relation to the ground. This course is particularly popular for plant lovers. As you move along the Karakama course from the Tozaka side to the Nana-magari side, you can actually feel the temperature difference.
Hyaku Magari (Hundred Turning) Trail: This trail follows the mountain ridge from the back of Zenrinji Temple, and since it climbs the ridge it's comparatively steep. As the name says, it's a narrow, twisting trail, and in the middle are many conspicuous areas of exposed rock. As the saying Mt. Kinka is a single stone mount says, it's composed of massive chert, a very hard stone, and so the soil layer is thin. When it rains, the soil covering the stone surface often washes away. Thus, plants growing on the mountain can survive only by clinging and digging into the rock by their roots. Although the length is short, the climb is steep, so this course is recommended only for strong hikers.
Hanataka Hiking Course: This climbing trail follows the ridge on Mt. Kinka's northeast side. Since it follows the ridge, it's gentle, almost flat course, but the final section comes to an almost vertical cliff face. It's about 1.5 kilometers long. One particular point of this course is the large ladder-climbed boulder along that way that offers a lovely view over the clear flowing Nagara River. It also connects with the Meiso no Komichi Trail pathway, so if you go down the Meiso trail a little ways you can see a large boulder shaped like Godzilla. One of the real pleasures of climbing the rocky Mt. Kinka is closely observing all the rock shapes as you carefully climb past.
Okama Climbing Trail: This course climbs the south face of Mt. Tosan from Dachiboku Hiking Course, connecting to Hanataka Hiking Course. The many red pines in the area are remnants of the time with Mt. Kinka was a cultivated satoyama area. As you climb, the evergreen broad leaf forests, which stay green even in winter, spread out around you. Compared to the park-side course, the trail is narrow, but it's well maintained and suitable for beginners.
Tozaka (East Slope) Hiking Course: This is a course of about one kilometers leading from Iwato Park toward the summit of Mt. Kinka along the southeast ridge. As you climb, the exposed rock soon stands out. Long ago, the road from the city to Dachibokubora went through Myoken trail & Myoken pass, and the Myoken-gu Shrine there was a draw for pilgrims. There are stone pillars in the pass indicating that Mt. Kinka was already under control of the imperial house at the time. The hiking course map hits a number of very important local points, so the path is well maintained and easy to climb. The Enmado Shrine in the Ni no Maru ruins holds the Smiling Lord Yama statue, with its expression of pure joy.
Uma no Se (Horseback) Trail: This trail breaks off from the Meiso no Komichi trail and heads to the summit along the ridge on the north side of Mt. Kinka. It's extremely steep, and there are many dangerous cliffs along the way. This is the most difficult of all the climbing trails. The ground along the top of the ridge has many unstable areas, so the bedrock is exposed in lots of places. Several areas are marked with signs saying Danger: Impossible for the elderly or young children. This trail is geared toward those in good walking health, since in places the ground is only bedrock, with exposed tree roots being your only means of climbing, or you might have to crawl up on all fours.
Dachiboku Hiking Course: This is an 800 meter, level walking course connecting Dachibokubora and Iwato Park. It connects Dachibokubora with the Tozaka hiking course. Dachibokubora is an area of traditional satoyama, where evergreen forests are patchworked with paddy fields and wetlands. They say that the surrounding wilderness was cleared, and the current Sakagawa and fields started being maintained, around 1660. This course is marked by the gentle rolling valley landscape and the waterside area it uses. The day after big rains, the streams become full-fledged rivers. The tea trees and bamboo forest around the course entrance reminds you that the area was once widely cultivated satoyama.
Nana-magari (Seven-turn) Trail: This is a gentle, two kilometer beginner's course that starts out from Mt. Kinka Driveway, which was once the major road leading to Gifu castle. The trail is wide and good for families. There are stone cairns said to be left from those days, tracks carved by human hands, and piles of green stones from the old road left to see. They say that figures like Oda Nobunaga and Portuguese missionary Luis Frois took this path, as well. Guide stones reading O Cho to the Castle (Cho is an old measure of distance, about 110 meters) work opposite from the Xth station of Mt. Fuji and others, getting larger as you go down the mountain. That's because these were based not on Mt. Kinka as a mountain, but as a castle.
Meiso no Komichi Trail (Meditation trail or Sailor's Trail): This gentle trail climbs the north face of Mt. Kinka from the north side of the ropeway. The trail climbs about 300 meters, and is about 2.5 kilometers long. It starts off gently in wide forests of Japanese chinquapin and ring-cupped oak, but around the middle of the mountain the slope becomes quite steep. Mt. Kinka's oldest cedar is more than 130 centimeters in diameter. Tree roots can't penetrate very deeply since Mt. Kinka's ground is extremely hard, so it's common to see them roots grow as if they're grasping at the rocks themselves. These trees also played a role in old stories of castle lords using them to escape, so the scenery offers not only the pleasure of seasonal changes, but a taste of history as well.

Information Sources:  NAVITIME JAPAN


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          Gifu Areas


          Tucked away in the very center of Japan, Gifu prefecture houses mountains, old towns, and one of Japan's greatest hot springs, Gero Onsen. A tour of the prefecture's traditional architecture will take you from the mountain-enveloped wooden streets of Takayama to the mountain village of Shirakawago, where visitors can explore 250-year-old thatched roofed houses known as gassho-zukuri.