Sponsored by Mino City
Mino City, home to the famous Mino Washi paper, Mino Washi Akari Exhibition and of course archaic Udatsu town, is like a capsule frozen in time. The artistic beauty of its Udatsu housing and the simplicity of a relaxing, local town from over a thousand years ago make it a ‘must go’ destination for any lover of history. But, step outside of that archaic bubble, and there’s more culture and history just waiting to be explored.
What better way to explore the countryside than by bicycle? Feel the breeze rush through your hair and not only get there faster, but also stop wherever you like. And, if you rent an electric cycle from Mino-Shi station (complete with bell, basket and map), you can enjoy a relaxing cycle for just ￥500 for the whole day!
Suhara really is my kind of shrine. There are no annoying crowds of people trying to take selfies and it’s caked in nature. There’s vibrant moss, wooden structures and an earthy fragrance dusting the air. What’s more, it’s right next to the gleaming blues of Nagara river. Stay in the speckled shade of the trees encasing Suhara shrine, or venture out into the sunlight and spend some time next to the river. Whichever you choose, I guarantee you’ll leave feeling relaxed and recharged. Japanese people are always talking about power spots, and if I had to choose one, it would be here.
Suhara Shrine was founded in 717 as a sacred shrine in worship of Mount Hakusan; a faith dedicated to the God of Agriculture popular in Ishikawa, Gifu and Fukui prefectures. It’s believed that you will have a rich harvest if you take sand from the shrine and sprinkle it over your farm. And, judging from the stunning farmland here, it seems to be working well for them.
Compared to our flashing white cylinders on the cliffs of England, this 9 meter wooden structure, used for shipping back in the Edo Period, is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Located right next to Nagara river and a beautifully red Torii gate at Sumiyoshi shrine, and still lighting the way today, it’s a great piece of history to explore.
Designated a national treasure in Japan, Oyada shrine is another masterpiece for nature lovers. With the beginnings of the Autumn magic beginning to show itself on the countless trees, it’s no wonder why this is a famous autumn leaf viewing spot. Coupled with the vibrant mossy greens of the ground and the splattering of light created from sky encasing trees, I can only imagine what exquisite contrasts are made when the leaves take upon the shades of burning fire.
The shrine itself is home to the 500 year old Hinkoko festival, in which shine rituals are performed to pray for protection. Its old, wooden structure is complete with the kind of marks and wood scaring that really gives the shrine a sense of character and mystery. The seemingly endless staircase to the shrine is also a sight to behold.
It’s Just So Worth it
So there you have it. For the measly price of a ￥500 electric bicycle, you’ve relaxed along the river side, immersed yourself in the rich history and culture of Japan, visited uncrowded, beautiful, archaic shrines and drowned yourself in some stunning countryside scenes. For me, this is far better than the slow crawl through Kyomizudera, bumping elbows in Asakusa or Harajuku, and you’ll come out feeling far more refreshed, relaxed and renewed. Take a trip to the countryside and explore Japan without the crowds.