Right before Japan declared its widespread emergency state in response to the COVID-19, I took a final trip to a place that has been on my travel list for quite a long time: Hida-Furukawa. Located in the mountainous region of Gifu, this town is the real-life location of the fictional town “Itomori” in the movie Your Name. Like its fictional counterpart, it is removed from the city and has a lot of wonderful nature you can explore. In this post, I will be detailing my experience here and all of the main places captured in the movie.
Please see my photo documentary for detailed side-to-side comparisons with the anime!
The major points of interest are:
- Hida-Furukawa Station (so you can see the cattle mascot Hida-gyu)
- Hida City Library
- Ajidokoro Furukawa (the same restaurant where the characters eat mochi)
- 旧落合村バス停 (the infamous bus stop)
- Hie Shrine in Takayama
But there are many other museums and hot springs to see during your trip!
Traveling to Hida-Furukawa Station
I woke up at 6am and rode the shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Toyama Station which took around 2 hours but was a scenic trip. From there I switched to the Hida Limited Express and traveled 1.5 hours to reach Hida-Furukawa Station—the main location of the movie outside of Tokyo. The journey takes 3-4 hours and costs around 14,000 yen in total, but is worth it for the amount of things you can see. Even if you’re not a diehard fan of Your Name, Hida has a rustic charm that you won’t find in other places in Japan.
As soon as I got off, I was greeted by a cute cutout of Hida-gyu. Hida is famous for its beef so it would make sense that its mascot looks like this:
Dining in Hida
Since I was starving I decided to stop by a local eatery called Fab Cafe Hida. This restaurant is not in the movie, but it’s definitely worth trying because they have sweet sake chai and delicious salmon sandwiches. I came here in early April so it was still snowing a bit even though there were some cherry blossoms in bloom. I was happy to see that they had space heaters scattered throughout their cafe so I could stay warm.
A restaurant that is in the movie however is called Ajidokoro Furukawa, where the characters feast on glutinous mochi. You’ll know this place when you see it because it has posters of the movie hung up around it. The staff is extremely friendly and will give you a guestbook to look at and draw in while you wait for your food. I was amazed by all the detailed drawings that people had sketched inside. In addition to mochi, there is a lot of Japanese food here that you can order too. I’m not a huge fan of mochi, but this was exceptionally delicious. I can see why the place was featured in the movie now!
Hitting the Library and Local Shrines
One of the early scenes in the movie takes place at the Hida City Library which you can easily reach on foot from the station (almost all the major attractions I listed are within walking distance from here). It’s quite an expansive library with multiple floors, toys and reading circles for children, and a number of classic titles. This is the biggest library I have ever been to in Japan so I will always remember my experience here. It brought back the memories I had renting books as a child in the days before ebooks existed. What a time it is to be alive!
In addition to the library, you can check out the Hida Tourism Center for a free map and also stop by some of the city’s local shrines. There are three shrines that are said to bring good luck in love if you visit them: Enko-ji, Shinshu-ji, and Honkou-ji. Every January 15th there is a festival here that celebrates them. Though the festival had long ended since I arrived here, I still had a lot of fun checking them out!
One of the major shrines in the movie (called Hie pictured above) is actually in Takayama. Fortunately, Takayama is very easy to reach. From Hida-Furukawa, you can take the Takayama Line to reach Takayama Station in 30 mins for 290 yen. Hie Shrine is around a 25 min walk from the station and is free to enter (or you can take a taxi).
There’s not much else to see in central Takayama, so I would recommend coming here after you fully finish exploring Hida-Furukawa.
The Infamous Bus Stop
This bus stop is arguably the most difficult place to get to, but is totally worth it for the comparative picture. It’s literally out in the middle of nowhere—forests and a single vending machine are the only things that surround it. Only a few number of buses stop here per day making it a real challenge to get here and back (you may be waiting for hours). The nearest train station is Tsunogawa Station, but since this area is somewhat remote the trains are infrequent too. But if you come all the way out to Hida, you might as well go for the gold. I opted to pay a taxi driver 6900 ($60) for a round trip from Hida-Furukawa Station to here and fortunately he cut me a deal.
Inside the bus stop are more sketch books and posters of the movie. It’s amazing to see how many people have made it out here!
Address: 旧落合村バス停 (If you show this to any taxi driver in Hida, they will know).
Other Points of Interest
While walking through Hida, be sure to look out for the Setogawa Canal! This street is lined with beautiful buildings and you can also see koi fish swimming around. It’s extremely picturesque:
There are also a number of sake distilleries you can walk in and see. I found a sculpture of a life-sized robot near one of the shrines too! It truly surprised me how much there is to see in this little town.
Though I didn’t have enough time to visit any museums, here is a list of some I’d want to visit in the future:
Traveling to Hida and Takayama was definitely a great excursion out of the city for me. I had the chance to relive some of my favorite parts of Your Name and also create my photo documentary so I will forever remember this trip. However, even if you’re not a fan of the movie you will still enjoy this area if you like exploring rural Japan. I did this entire trip in one day, but you could easily expand this into a 2-3 day trip if you stay at an onsen resort or ride the Hida express all the way to Nagoya or Osaka. The local train that runs through Gifu is considerably less expensive than the bullet train.
In my next article I will be writing about Gero Onsen which is between Hida-Furukawa and Nagoya so it makes the perfect side-trip for those who are traveling here. Please look forward to my future adventures!