Gero (下呂市 Gero-shi), also known as Gero Onsen (下呂温泉), is a hot spring town in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.
Gero's small tourist office, next to the station, can help you book if you arrive with no reservation.
By trainis on the JR Takayama Line, which has spectacular views of the valley and the Hida River below. The Wide View Hida (ワイドビューひだ) limited express from Nagoya takes about 1½ hours (¥4,620). If you're coming from the Sea of Japan side, from Takayama it takes 45 minutes (¥2,240), and from Toyama there are 4 daily runs taking 2½ hours (¥4,940); local trains from Toyama take 2½-3½ hours, with a transfer in Inotani, and another in Takayama if you want to take the faster Wide View Express for the last segment.
From Tokyo, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya and then the Wide View Hida. On a Nozomi, this takes about 3½ hours and costs ¥13,880; by Hikari it takes 4 hours, but is free with the Japan Rail Pass.
From the Kansai region, Gero is around 2¼ hours from Kyoto (¥9,130) and around 2½ hours from Osaka (¥9,780), also using the Nozomi or Hikari and changing in Nagoya. There is also a daily round-trip of the Wide View Hida leaving Kansai in the morning (#25 at 07:58 from Osaka Station) and returning in the evening (#36 at 16:24 from Gero) using conventional lines. While it's slightly more convenient, this service is slower, taking 3 hours from Kyoto (¥6,570) and 3½ hours from Osaka (¥7,330), and there are no food and drink sales.
If you take local trains from Nagoya, the ride will take at least 2½ hours at a cost of ¥2,270, with several transfers required on the way. From Takayama, it's 65 minutes and costs ¥970, and from Toyama it's 3-4 hours (or more) and ¥2,590.
By busThere are daily buses to Gero from Nagoya, Takayama, Toyama, and Osaka.
By carGero is accessible from national highways 41 and 257, about 2 hours' drive from Nagoya; take the Chuo Expressway E19 to Ena or Nakatsugawa, then 257, or take 41 the whole way.
Gero Onsen can be covered on foot, although if you have much luggage you'll want to get a taxi or arrange a pickup with your lodgings — the train station lies on the south side of the river, while most hotels are across the long bridge to the north.
phone: +81 576 25-2239address: Mori 2369A traditional-style village with thatched-roof gasshō-zukuri (shaped like hands in prayer) houses. At least one house is authentic, having been constructed in Shirakawa-go (also in Gifu, nationally famous for its gasshō-zukuri houses) in the mid-1800s, and later relocated here to escape being submerged behind a dam. You can paint pottery and make paper yourself, and they will mail your handiwork back to you for an additional fee. There are displays of traditional festivals, and a museum of guardian-dog statues (狛犬 koma-inu) used at shrines. Nourish your body with local specialties from the restaurant, your feet by soaking in the footbath, and your inner child by riding the roller slide.
The remaining sites include some distinctly ordinary temples, which are just an excuse to take in some beautiful mountain views:
Charlie Chaplin statueThe American silent film star visited Gifu Prefecture twice in the 1930s, where he saw cormorant fishing (鵜飼 ukai, quite literally using birds to catch fish), which he described as "Japan's highest art form". However, the statue's purpose is rather far removed from that: it's "to make a 'movie street' where tourists can walk around the hot springs while talking about movies"!
Gero Onsen MuseumSmall museum with hot spring paraphanalia dating back to the Edo period, samples of water from hot springs around Japan, and some simple experiments you can perform using Gero hot spring water.
Mori Hachiman Shrineaddress: Mori 1321
address: Yunoshima 680This temple is strongly connected to the town's history. In 1265, an earthquake destroyed the town and caused the hot springs to dry up. According to legend, a white heron led villagers to a new source of hot water. The villagers built the temple in thanks, and the heron can be seen on the town's manhole covers.
Zenshō-ji Templeaddress: Hagiwara-chō, Chūro 1819
Gero is also quite popular for sightseeing of seasonal cherry blossoms and fall leave colors due to its mountainous location.
- Foot baths (足湯 ashiyu) are popular in Gero, as the waters are reputed to have curative properties. True to the name, you just take off your shoes and sit down with your feet in the water. A number of free foot baths can be found around town, including the decidedly tacky in front of the Shirasagi Hotel — no prizes for guessing what the statue in the middle is doing.
Fountain Pond outdoor bathThis open-air hot bath can be found to the west side of the bridge, with access via the south side. Note that there are no facilities to speak of and the bathing area is mixed and clearly visible to passersby on the bridge above, but admission is also free so you get what you pay for. Swimwear required for all users.
Yunomachi Ujo ParkMuch prettier than the so-called park surrounding the Hida River, this park has a lovely 500-meter walk along a tributary landscaped into a ladder waterfall, with sculptures and memorials.
- Tanokami or Hanagasa - February 14
- Ryujin Fire Festival - August 1-3
- Amateur kabuki performances in May and November
- Fireworks in August and December
Ideyu Morning Marketaddress: 2626 MoriSmall market where vendors peddle local produce (only Friday-Monday), food products, and souvenirs.
Ideyu Night Market
phone: +81 576 25-4894address: Yunoshima 898Fugaku is Japanese traditional natural hot spring hotel, along Hida River. They have 6 onsen baths (2 indoor, 2 outdoor, and 2 private for families), free Wi-Fi service in the lobby, tatami-mat rooms with air-conditioning, LCD TVs and refrigerators in rooms. In-room dining features 10-course meals of Hida beef. Walking distance to riverside and downtown, 15 minutes to onsen temple, 25 minutes to Gasho Village and Morning Market.
phone: +81 576 25-4894address: Yunoshima 898-1In this ryokan built in 2012, the decor is traditional, but everything else is modern: all rooms have a small private onsen bath on an open-air patio, as well as LCD TVs and wired Internet access (with free Wi-Fi available in the lobby). Rooms are not as spacious as at some of the other ryokan in Gero, but you get a lot more features in your room, so it's a very fair trade. Meals are taken in their private restaurant. There is also a karaoke room available for ¥2,100/hour.
phone: +81 576 25-3131address: Yunoshima 645This multi-building onsen ryokan sits on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley and the city. Features 7 baths including 2 outdoor baths and a foot bath, and a large gated garden. Dinner and breakfast are included and are 12-18 courses. Enjoy wandering through the odd-angled hallways and extensions to the original building; they even made a stamp-hunting game of it (pick up a blank sheet from the front desk). Since the rest of the rykoan is the same no matter which room you get, you can save yourself some money by going for the cheaper rooms.
phone: +81 576 25-3100address: Koden 1167-1Mutsumikan is an affordable hot spring ryokan located very close to Gero Station and within walking distance of Gero Onsen city center.The family-run ryokan features friendly staff and personalized services, indoor/outdoor natural Onsen bath.English spoken,the staff is welcoming to foreign visitors. Free Wi-Fi and Included dining plans available.