The Jomon presence is very much alive in Gifu-ken:  artifacts in museums, traces of their settlements, megaliths they shaped for mysterious reasons and in unknown ways. The modern inhabitants live simply, close to the ways of nature, eating fresh fish from pristine streams and picking wild mountain herbs. They enjoy the hot mineral onsen.

An enchanting land like a hidden valley separated from the modern world in space and time.

This mystical land was known as Hida no Kuni 飛騨国. The kanji characters say land of the flying gray horse. Now, granted there may be a legend about a local hero on a speedy gray horse. However, couldn’t the words simply mean Hi-Ta? In Jomon times as described in the pages of the Hotsuma Tsutae, the word Hi was a fundamental symbol. Many, many place names contain the leading syllable, Hi. Also, as a kototama spirit of sound, Hi means Sun, Fire, One, Day, a very powerful word. As for Ta, it could be one of the eight Kunisatsuchi, the first Takamimusubi who founded the Hitakami dynasty of the northeast. Even the place name Hitakami begins with Hi. In this case, it represents viewing (mi) the sun (Hi) standing high (taka) in the sky. Ta to the Japanese people even today means the rice paddy.

A document even older than the Hotsuma Tsutae is the Takenouchi, and the latter also mentions Hida no Kuni.

Hida-no kuniHida map

Hida-no-kuni was a province in old Japan and a part of the Tousando (Eastern Mountain Circuit).

Modern Hida

Gifu, Gifu-ken, 岐阜県, is a prefecture in central Honshu. Most, 80%, of its land is forested. The prefecture runs from the mountains of Hida in the north, to the Nobi Plains downstream. The Hida mountains dominate. The capitol is the city of Gifu.

Hida Mountains are called Hida Sanmyaku, 飛騨山脈 . They form the northern Japanese Alps on the border of Nagano-ken with Takayama in Gifu-ken. The western part of the Hida mountains are called Tateyama Renpo, the Tateyama Peaks. The eastern part is known as Ushiro Tateyama Renpo, the Back Tateyama Peaks. In the south is Yari-gatake, Mt. Yari (spear), one of the 100 famous Japanese mountains.

Takayama (高山市 Takayama-shi) is a city located in Gifu. Takayama [also known as Hida-Takayama] was settled as far back as the Jōmon period. Takayama is best known for its inhabitants’ expertise in carpentry. Carpenters from Takayama worked on the Imperial Palace in Kyoto and on many of the temples in Kyoto and Nara. The high altitude and separation from other areas of Japan kept the area fairly isolated, allowing Takayama to develop its own culture over about a 300-year period.

Gero (下呂市 Gero-shi) is a city in Gifu-ken. The city is famous for its hot springs. The Hida River runs throughout the city. The city was established on March 1, 2004 by the merger of several towns including Kanayama.

Ancient Hida no Kuni

Takenouchi Documents say Our Ancestors Came from Hidama.  (from Takenouchi Documents by Kosaka Wado)  Long ago, our ancestors came from Hidama in outer space. Hidama may be the name of a star system or planet. ‘Hidama’ = ‘hi’ ‘tama’ = ball of fire, thus the dictionary terms are falling star, fireball. It is said that Hidama on Earth is Hida in Gifu. The ancestors landed on Earth at Mt Kugano and Kuraiyama. Kugano is now part of Takayama-shi. ‘Kurai’ means ‘crown’.

Ogasawara on Takenouchi Documents.   Amasakaru-hinimukaitsu-hime-sumeramikoto, better known as Amaterasu, was beautiful, wise, spiritual, a sorceress. Her palace was in Amakoshine-nakatsukuni, which was later called Echu province and is now Toyama-ken. She ‘went down along the River Jintsu from Hitama-kuni (Hida province) with her brothers Susanowo and Tsukiyomi.’ Note that Ogasawara refers to Hida province as Hitama-kuni rather than Hita-kuni.

Kuraiyama.  Mt. Kurai (位山) is located on the border of the cities

DSCN2281of Takayama and Gero. Kuraiyama separates the watersheds of the northern and southern portions of the Hida region. The Jinzū River flows to the north and the Hida River flows to the south. Note: the division of a river into two rivers is called ‘bunsui’ in Japanese.     

Minashi Shrine.  The full name is  飛騨一宮水無神社  Hida Ichinomiya Minashi Shrine, as it was once 一宮 ichinomiya, the main shrine, of Hida Province. ‘Minashi’ (水無) is short for ‘mizu-nashi’ meaning no water, since it is a place of bunsui where the water divides. Minashi Shrine is located in Takayama city near Kuraiyama, which is its shintaizan, sacred mountain of worship.

Hoba-zushi.  Hoba-zushi is a local specialty. It is sushi wrapped in a large hoba leaf. The hoba leaf is used as a plate for cooking over a flame. It will not burn until all the food has been eaten, at which time one turns off the flame.

HobaZushi DSCN2228Hida Meal DSCN5330