Historically, Gifu (岐阜) has a strong association with Oda Nobunaga, daimyō (domain lord) of the castle and bestower of the city's name in 1567. The city was later visited by famed haiku poet Matsuo Bashō, who witnessed ukai (cormorant fishing) here in 1688; Charlie Chaplin did the same in his day.
Contemporary Gifu shows little evidence of those historic times (due to a colossal earthquake in 1891 and the decimation of WWII); redevelopment has created a tidy and accessible downtown core. Skyscrapers give way to modest houses heading north toward the river; nearby, noteworthy attractions surround Gifu castle, including the beautiful Gifu park and one of the three Great Buddhas of Japan. Pretty mountains, a wide river and excellent transport links mean big-city convenience with small-town charisma.