Gifu's main attraction is its 1,300-year tradition of ukai fishing, which uses live birds to catch fish in the river. The city center spreads several blocks north from the JR and Meitetsu stations. Extensive rebuilding after World War II didn't create the prettiest place, but there is plenty going on. Wagasa (oiled paper umbrellas) are handmade in small family-owned shops, and chochin (paper lanterns) and lacquered uchiwa fans are also produced locally. If you are interested in seeing these items being made, ask at the tourist information center for workshops that allow visitors.

Between May 11 and October 15, you can watch cormorant fishing from the banks of the river just east of Nagara Bridge at around 7:30 pm each evening. Or you can buy a ticket on one of about 130 boats, each carrying between 10 and 30 spectators. Allow two hours for an ukai outing—an hour and a half to eat and drink (bring your own food if you haven't arranged for dinner) and a half hour to watch the fishing. The ¥3,400 boat trips depart at 6:15, 6:45, and 7:15 nightly; reservations, made through the Gifu City Cormorant Fishing Observation Boat Office or the tourist information center, are essential. There's no fishing on the autumn full moon.

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