Mino city is well-known for handmade Japanese traditional paper,” Washi paper”. Especially “Washi” produced in Mino city called “Mino Washi”.
Mino washi has been listed as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
Mino city is also known as the old “Shukuba” town on the Nakasendo trail.
Mino city doesn’t have the luxury like Kyoto or Takayama city but has beautiful Japanese nature and friendly local people.
Where Is Mino City, Gifu Prefecture???
Mino City (美濃市) is a city located in the center of Gifu prefecture (岐阜県).
(Gifu prefecture is the center of Japan, so Mino city is the center of the center. haha)
Mino city and the surrounding area are very famous as the production of Mino “Washi” paper. Also, the urban area is known as “Udatsu Wall Historical District” is selected as the important traditional buildings preservation district of the nation.
The popular cities around Mino city are Seki city, Gujo-Hachiman area.
Access From The Major City By Public Transportation
The easiest way is to use a highway bus operated by Gifu bus from the Meitetsu Bus Center toward Mino city.
Bus departures from No.23 on the 4th floor. No reservation. Make sure you have enough cash to pay when getting off the bus. You can’t use a prepaid transportation card. Don’t forget to take a boarding voucher (a numbered ticket) when boarding a bus.
Get off “Mino Ogura Koen Mae” (美濃小 倉公園前) or “Udatsu no machinami dori”(うだつの町並み通り).
Due to no reservation required, there is a chance you can’t a get seat especially during Seki City’s annual Cutlery Festival (Hamono-matsuri).
From Gifu (JR & Meitetsu) station
There are two ways to get to Mino city, to use only local bus or use Nagaragawa Tetsudo (長良川鉄道).
In my suggestion, using “Nagaragawa Tetsudo” is easier than taking a local bus.
Get on the Takayama Line (高山本線) train and tranfer to Nagaragawa Tetsudo at “Mino Ota” (美濃太田 CG07) station.
Get off “Mino city” (美濃市) or “Umeyama station” (梅山).
From Takayama City
- Take the JR Takayama Line toward Gifu station, get off “Mino Ota” station.
- Transfer to Nagaragawa Tetsudo (Railway), get off “Mino City” station or “Umeyama” station.
Udatsu no Agaru Street; The Old Street In Gifu-Mino City
In Mino City, you can see Udatsu no Agaru Street (うだつの上がる町並). The townscape of Udatsu, which was selected as a national traditional buildings preservation district.
Mino City was throughout the Edo period, it prospered through economic activities based on Handmade Japanese traditional paper. A merchant town in the Edo period (1603 – 1868), the streets in the district are lined with merchant houses built, showing an old appearance.
Particularly, the Kosaka family residence, which is designated as a national important cultural property, and the former Imai family residence, which is a cultural property designated by the city, are still prosperous in the sightseeing attractions.
“Udatsu”(うだつ) is an earthen firewall installed on the border with the attached house. It cost a lot to install, so the only wealthy families could have Udatsu. In other words, “Udatsu” is a symbol of wealth, and “Udatsu street” shows the prosperity of these old days. Each Udatsu is decorated with family crests, and its luxury represents the authority of the merchant.
Udatsu Made Japanese Idiom
“Udatsu Ga Agaranai”(うだつがあがらない) is a Japanese idiom, which literally means “Never get ahead”.
The only successful family could install “Udatsu”, so people began to use the idiom to explain people or businesses is not doing well.
Mino History Museum Former Imai Family Residence
The former Imai family residence (旧今井家) is a representative Udatsu-wall building, and today is opened as a Mino history museum.
The Imai family had been a “Washi paper” distributor and also served as the town chief in the late Edo period, and the house is the largest merchant house in the city. You can see the lifestyle through room designs and arrangements reproduce a merchant house in the Edo period.
What You Can See At Mino History Museum Former Imai Family Residence
- The old account book on a typical old counter desk in the Edo period and you can see the “Hibachi”-the ancient stove for customers.
- The 3 meters high ceiling window
- Japanese garden and “Suikinkutsu”.
A suikinkutsu (水琴窟) is a type of Japanese garden ornament to enjoy the water-dropping sound through a buried upside-down pot. There is a hole at the top of the pot, and water drips from the hole at the top into a small puddle in the pot and a pleasant splashing sound echoes in the pot.
Kosaka Sake Brewery
Kosaka Sake Shop is a sake brewery built in the early Yasunaga period (1772-81). The entire roof was slightly curved, which was an urban architectural style at the time. The beautiful ruins are extremely valuable and were designated as a national important cultural property in 1979.
It is long narrow inside and there is a sake brewery. You can see various building ideas for sake brewing.
Of course, you can buy local Japanese sake in the shop.
Mino Washi Akari Art Hall
As the town revitalization, there is the lantern art festival held annually at Udatsu no Agaru streets. From professional washi paper crafts to amateurs, compete their artistic lantern works made with Mino washi paper.
At the museum, you can see all lantern works throughout the year. The interior of the building is made of wood and Japanese paper, and the calm atmosphere naturally heals the mind.
The first floor is a shop that sells Japanese paper light art products. Just like the exhibition room, you will find highly artistic light art.
Mino Akari Gallery Irodori
It is a specialty lamp shade shop made with Mino Washi paper. The upstairs is a small gallery, The soft warm lights through Washi paper shade bring you to a different world.
When I was visiting, the only guest was me, I could forget the time sitting on the couch looking at the warm blue lights.
There is a hidden Japanese garden which you can see through the traditional small window room in the gallery.
Go to the shop, there is a Japanese typical narrow stair. Take your shoes off to go upstairs.