Of all the towns we visited in Gifu, I would say that Gero is probably the most relaxing. Why? I mean it is Gero ONSEN. If you do find yourself in Gero, give yourself plenty of time to unwind and chill out. That’s exactly what we did!
We travelled straight from Shirakawa-go. We caught the train from Takayama station, and disembarked at Gero station. If you’re looking to travel from Tokyo, it will take you about five hours by car or four hours via public transport.
In case you’ve never experienced an onsen before, here’s the lowdown. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring. They can be found either indoor or outdoor, naturally in nature or in a man made facility. Onsens are usually split by gender, and users must be fully naked to enter.
Onsens can also be used privately, but this is quite a modern concept, and is usually very expensive (excess of $100pp). I guess it’s for those who prefer to pay for privacy of their bits!
And of course in Gero, you have to experience an Onsen!
I was able to enjoy one all by myself in our hotel, which also happened to be outdoor. The hotel switches the gender of the onsen daily, allowing both men and women to experience all the onsens the hotel has to offer.
We’ve had the privilege of experiencing Kaiseki several times while in Japan. Kaiseki is a traditional, multi-course Japanese dinner. It’s quite a fancy experience, and generally quite a bit more expensive than your average bowl of ramen. But when in Japan, am I right?
Kaiseki is not just a meal, it’s a work of art. Truly. We experienced a twelve course kaiseki at our hotel in Gero, and each dish is so carefully prepared and presented, it really is almost too beautiful to eat. Half the time you don’t really know what you’re eating either, but be prepared for a dance all over your tastebuds. The flavours and textures really are next level, and are a testament to the skill behind this pretty much perfectly styled meal. You’ll see what I mean below!
This kaiseki meal we experienced in Suimeikan costs 30,000 yen (standard plan) per person.
While walking through the town we noticed a stall marked ‘HIDA BEEF’. Being a fan of Japanese beef, we really wanted to try it. It will cost you roughly $5AUD for a skewer of beef. It’s so tasty and I could eat so many of these. Definitely worth a try if you ever spot a stall while in Gifu!
We tried the local ice cream here, which is called Ontama-soft. It consists of a range of unique ingredients and flavours, including a soft boiled egg. It was a salty sweet dessert, which I guess is not for everyone, but I’m always down to try it!
Suimeikan is a hotel which offers Ryokan style rooms. We stayed at Suimeikan, which is a large hotel located two minutes drive from Gero station.
The hotel has a large foyer, and beautiful pond garden with a pond which you can see upon entry. The main town is easily accessible on foot from the hotel.
We stayed in a large Ryokan style room at Suimeikan. Staying in a Ryokan is always a unique experience if you haven’t tried it before. There is no bed when you first arrive. You are usually served tea, sweets, and a hot towel on arrival. While you’re at dinner, your room is transformed into a bedroom with a futon style bed.
There are also options to have breakfast and dinner served in your bedroom. Once you check in to the hotel you can change into the kimono pyjamas provided, and all guests can be found walking around wearing these. Lunch, dinner, breakfast, anywhere! I find that staying in a ryokan can be really quite a homely experience.
Suimeikan also offers Western style rooms, but where’s the fun in that! 😉
For more information on Suimeikan, visit https://www.suimeikan.co.jp/english/index.html
For more information on Gero: