Whilst there are plenty of resources on the net & in print (hello Barry Valder!), I thought it might be a good time to start compiling a travel/stadium guide for those supporters wishing to follow their team – wherever they may go. Might as well start close to home: welcome to Gifu!!
How to get there:
If you’re coming by public transport, you’ll probably arrive at JR Gifu station, the focal point of transport in Gifu. The most common way for fans to get here from afar is to take the Shinkansen (or long distance bus) to Nagoya and then go from Nagoya to Gifu (20-25 minutes, ¥450) on the Tokaido Main Line. If you’re coming from Kansai and want to save money by not taking the Shinkansen, you can take the JR Biwako line to Maibara, and then change to the Tokaido mainline from there. From Maibara it takes around 30-40 minutes to Gifu.
How to get to the stadium:
The main bus pool is located right in front of JR Gifu station. Head to stop number 11 and take the Gifu city loop line (doesn’t matter if it is clockwise or anti-clockwise) and get off at Gifu Memorial Centre Kita. The fare is ¥210. (If you’re lucky, you might even get to ride on a bus that is adorned with a big picture of Ruy Ramos)
If by car, follow signs to “Nagara river” or the bridges Kinka-bashi or Nagara-bashi, and try to find parking close to there (good luck). If you’re feeling lazy, type Gifu Miyako Hotel into your navigation system, and let technology do the rest.
At the stadium
Assuming you’ve already bought your ticket (if you haven’t, expect to pay ¥1600-¥3300 for tickets on the day) you can spend your time milling outside. The stadium’s main selling point is the “yatai-mura” – the food court. Loads of stuff there, although if you want some of the local Gifu specialities like Hida Beef sticks, Hida Beef croquettes or Meiho Ham sausages, expect to wait.
Aside from that, there’s not much in the surrounding area to do before kick off, although the club do usually provide entertainment of some kind before the game.
Pre/post match eats/drinks
Whether celebrating a win or drowning your sorrows there are plenty of places to do so.
Home Run – Nagarabashi-dori, opposite Meitetsu station & next to UFJ Bank
Forgive the baseball name – the alcohol is cheap, the food is simple (think fired meat on sticks, fish on sticks etc) and cheap and the atmosphere is usually good.
Bier Hall – Tamamiya-cho
Dark, narrow and can get crowded. But has a lively vibe (especially on Saturdays) and has a TV that shows football. The Guinness is good, as is the Weissbier. Does bar food as well.
Marquee Sports Bar – Nagarabashi-dori, opposite a small temple, next to “big crab”
Run by an Aussie, there’s invariably some sport on one of the many TVs. Plenty of foreign beers and some pretty decent food.
Yell! Ale! Gifu – Tamamiya-cho
A bit pricey, but the best craft beer place in the city. All the ales are domestic, which you would have thought made them cheaper. Nope. But, in my humble opinion, very worth it.
Toritatsu – Sumida-machi between Kinka-bashi dori & Nagara-bashi dori
A Yakitori (grilled chicken on sticks) place, that has some great food. The beer is good, but hold on to your appetite because the food has the potential to get a bit pricey. But it is good!!
Other stuff to in Gifu:
You could visit Gifu castle (Bus to Gifu-koen, ¥210) and take the ropeway to the top (¥600 one way). If the weather is nice you’ll get some pretty panoramic views.
There are plenty of hot spring hotels next to the Nagara river – Hotel Park on the south side of Nagara-bashi is quite good. If it is a night game, you could watch the cormorant fishing boats go out on the river and catch their prey by firelight – a very traditional form of fishing, and Gifu is the most famous place in Japan for it.
Don’t forget to:
Read up on Oda Nobunaga. A famous Japanese warlord/leader from back in the day (we’re talking 400-ish years ago) whose presence is all around the city.