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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Cherry Blossoms at the Japan and China Friendship Garden

Next spot on my sakura hunting mission was the Japan and China Friendship Garden which is located between Gifu Gokoku Shrine and Gifu Park. This is definitely one of my favourite sakura spots in Gifu City day or night with a mixture of different cherry blossom trees.


It is a popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) and is especially picturesque in the evening when the sun starts to go down.

The garden was created in 1999 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the friendship and affiliation between Gifu City in Japan and Hangzhou in China. It was also created to further improve the often fragile relationship between these two nations. 

Pavilion and Ornamental Pond

The Entrance to the Garden

The garden is laid out in classic Chinese style with a keyhole gate, ornamental pond, bridge and pavilion. Inside the garden is a pond modeled after West Lake, a famous spot in Hangzhou, and some interesting looking Chinese architecture including a Hangzhou gate and a pair of guardian lions. The beautiful pond and garden have been created to reflect the stunning scenery of the four seasons in Gifu. 

Keyhole Gate to the Garden

Guardian Lion

When I visited on March 26. 2021, the somei yoshino cherry blossom trees were at peak bloom, but the shidarezakura (weeping cherry blossoms) were about a week from their peak. 

The Japan and China Friendship Garden at Gifu Park


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Cherry Blossoms along the Nagara River in Gifu

The second spot on my sakura hunting mission were the beautiful cherry blossoms along the banks of the Nagara River just outside of Gifu Gokoku Shrine in Gifu City.

The Nagara River, which is a beloved symbol of Gifu City along with Mount Kinka and Gifu Castle, flows through the city with its source starting in Gujo, a picturesque riverside town in the mountains north of Gifu City. The river is famous for being one of Japan’s “Three Clear-Flowing Rivers”, as well as being named one of Japan’s top “100 Bodies of Water”.

Cherry blossoms along the Nagara River


The ancient art of ukai (cormorant fishing) has a history of over 1,300 years, and takes place from May 11 to October 15 every year along the Nagara River in Gifu City. There are only twelve places in all of Japan where you can see ukai, with the cormorant fishing masters on the Nagara River, the only ones granted the title of “Imperial Fisherman of the Household Agency.” 

Cherry blossoms with the ukai viewing boats


There are about 400 somei yoshino cherry blossom trees along the south bank of the Nagara River, which become pretty in pink during spring. 


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Cherry Blossoms at Gifu Gokoku Shrine

This year the cherry blossoms reached peak bloom a lot earlier than usual in Gifu City. I just had to pick up my camera and head out to explore some of my favourite sakura spots in Gifu. First up is Gifu Gokoku Shrine which is close to the Nagara River.

Gifu Gokoku Shrine is a Shinto shrine located at the base of Mount Kinka near Gifu Park in Gifu City. The shrine is dedicated to the residents of Gifu Prefecture who have died in wars since the Meiji Restoration in 1868.


Plans to construct the shrine were made after the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905, but actual construction did not start until 1939 and was completed in 1940. 

The Entrance to Gifu Gokoku Shrine

Cherry Blossoms

Gifu Gokoku Shrine is known for its sakura (cherry blossoms) in spring. There are a few cherry blossom trees in the shrine’s precincts, but the best spot is along the road just outside the shrine leading to the Nagara Bridge, where you can catch the beautiful blossoms with amazing views of the Nagara River as well as the shrine architecture. 

Cherry Blossoms at Gifu Gokoku Shrine

Stone Lantern and Cherry Blossoms at Gifu Gokoku Shrine

Shrine Gate and Cherry Blossoms

The shrine is also famous for its ukai-zakura cherry blossom tree, which is one of the earliest bloomers in Gifu City. The large tree was planted over 100 years ago and is about 8 meters tall. The stunning tree received its name (ukai-zakura) because it is said that its blossoms can predict the amount of ayu (sweet fish) caught during the upcoming ukai (cormorant fishing) season. A bumper bloom means a lot of delicious ayu and a good ukai season.

The tree hadn’t quite reached peak bloom during my visit on March 26, 2021, but still looked beautiful anyway. 

Ukai Zakura at Gifu Gokoku Shrine

Cherry Blossoms at Gifu Gokoku Shrine

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