Gifu (岐阜市, Gifu-shi) is a city located in the south-central portion of Gifu Prefecture, Japan, and serves as the prefectural capital. The city has played an important role in Japan's history because of its location in the middle of the country. During the Sengoku period, various warlords, including Oda Nobunaga, used the area as a base in an attempt to unify and control Japan. Gifu continued to flourish even after Japan's unification as both an important shukuba along the Edo period Nakasendō and, later, as one of Japan's fashion centres. It has been designated a core city by the national government.
Located on the alluvial plain of the Nagara River, Gifu has taken advantage of the surrounding natural resources to create both traditional industries (including Mino washi and agriculture) and tourism opportunities such as cormorant fishing. Mount Kinka, one of the city's major symbols, is home to a nationally designated forest and Gifu Castle, a replica of Nobunaga's former castle. Gifu also hosts many festivals and events throughout the year.
Two major rail lines connect Gifu to Japan's national and international transportation infrastructure. JR Central's Tōkaidō Main Line runs through the city, connecting it with Nagoya, one of Japan's largest cities, and the surrounding area. The city has a direct train route to Chubu Centrair International Airport and facilities capable of hosting international events.
Gifu's first major industry was textiles. For a long period of time it rivalled Tokyo and Osaka as a leader of the Japanese fashion industry. The area just north of JR Gifu Station contains a variety of small clothing stores catering to many types of consumers. Furthermore, the city's main downtown covered shopping arcade, Yanagase, features many clothing, shoe, and accessory shops that carry both domestic and overseas goods. Over the past decade, though, as Gifu's fashion industry has declined steeply, the city has begun developing other industries to support the local economy.
One such industry is manufacturing. Because the city is located near Aichi Prefecture and its many major automotive and heavy industry companies, such as Toyota, Gifu has become a prosperous area for many metalworking, mould and die, and parts subcontractors. Its access to neighbouring areas using public transportation and highways has allowed companies to set up many factories and facilities in the area.
In addition to the modern industries upon which Gifu's economy rests, the city also has a wide array of traditional industries, which include traditional Gifu Fans, Mino washi and foods created from the ayu sweetfish. Many shops throughout the city produce these goods. The most well-known local industries, though, are traditional Gifu Lanterns and Umbrellas. There are approximately 15 businesses that make lanterns in the city, the largest of which is the Ozeki Lantern, Co. In the Kanō area, visitors have the opportunity to take a course and make their own paper umbrellas.
Gifu is twinned with: Campinas, State of São Paulo, Brazil • Cincinnati, Ohio, United States • Meidling (Vienna), Austria • Thunder Bay, Canada • Florence, Italy • Hangzhou, China • Toyama, Toyama, Japan.
Gifu City has a population of over 401,534 people.