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Archive for the ‘Gifu’ Category

I’m constantly amazed at how dramatic the landscapes are in the places I have lived since I left the Ohio River Valley. When I lived in Colorado, I spent spring and summer breaks traveling to places like Red Rocks, the Great Sand Dunes, Hot Sulphur Springs, Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake, and Garden of the Gods. When I decided to move back to the Midwest for grad school, I felt a sense of loss–at least until I got to Michigan and discovered how gorgeous it was. If you’ve never been to Michigan in the summer or fall, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The maple leaves, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, the lakeshores, the forests, the wine country in the north–even without the mountains I never wanted for beauty.

Moving to Hokuriku meant I got both the sea and the mountains, but the sea never grew on me. My old apartment was about two meters from the water, and while I had always hated the humidity, the tsunami also soured my attitude toward sea-side living. Now when I tell people in Chubu and Kansai that I live in Kanazawa, they often respond, “Oh, by the sea?”, but I live far enough inland that I can’t see it. Rather, I tend to think of Ishikawa as mountainous, with Hakusan in the south of the prefecture and the Central Alps also in the region.

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One of my favorite things about traveling to a new region is finding and sampling the local specialties. I went to Nagoya over the three-day weekend (for 敬老の日) and got to try several of the area’s famous foods.

The trailhead of one of the trails up Kinkazan

Katsu refers to tonkatsu, a pork cutlet fried in breadcrumbs. Normal tonkatsu is served with tonkatsu sauce (とんかつソース), a thick brown sauce similar to okonomi sauce(お好みソース); both of which are a bit like barbeque sauce in savory spirit, if not in flavor. Nagoya’s miso katsu (味噌カツ), is, as the name suggests, tonkatsu served with a miso-based sauce. Although tonkatsu is usually too heavy for my palate, the miso sauce was a delicious spin on the dish. Furthermore, the sauce is made from a miso famous in Aichi prefecture, 八丁味噌 (hacchou miso). This is a type of “red miso” (赤味噌), which has a stronger flavor and “dry” taste than “white miso” (白味噌), which is lighter and sweeter.

I’m not sure which restaurant serves the best miso katsu in Nagoya, but the miso katsu I was served at the restaurant at the summit of Kinkazan (金華山, or “Mt. Kinka”), next to Gifu Castle in Gifu City, was delicious. The set came with a small bowl of rice and a small cabbage “salad” for 1050 yen.

The view from near the summit of Kinkazan

The hike up to the summit is really lovely, and the Gifu Castle Museum had lots of interesting weapons and armor from  Oda Nobunaga and his family’s control of the area in the mid-16th century. We took an easy route up and headed down another fairly easy route—about 1 hour each way. Squirrel Village was entertaining, but you’re basically paying 200 yen to wear a leather glove and feed 1-2 squirrels, so it’s not a must-see place. At the base of Kinkazan is Gifu Park (岐阜公園), Great Buddha of Gifu (岐阜の大仏) (worth seeing), and several museums.

Restaurant Information

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