When I think of Gifu I think of the colour brown. The view from the train window as we came into the station was one of brown, beige, cream or a variety thereof. The houses, roofs and buildings all seemed to reflect this colour scheme and to be honest it made for a boring looking kind of place. Gifu, in comparison to other large Japanese cities, is considered something of a country town, despite its 400,000 people. We also happened to arrive on a long weekend when most things were closed and the streets pretty deserted. My first impressions weren't great.
One of the first things Colin wanted to do was to wander some of the back streets (and the Main Street) near where he had lived, trying to orient himself and find the places of significance for him so many years ago.
Thirty years had seen a lot of changes and it was only with the help of some old photos he finally managed to find the place where he used to live. The absence of people in the streets and the usual lively commerce did not help.
The middle building titled TBC is where one of Colin's host families sold luggage from the shop front and lived upstairs[/caption]
In our back street wanderings we came across a lively, trendy area, with people, action, eating places and intriguing boutique shops. Gifu's version of Brunswick Street. Gifu suddenly felt like a much nicer place and the proliferation of bicycles outside 'quaint' houses and shops really caught my eye.
We returned later in the evening to eat. Gifu is not really on the tourist route and therefore there are few westerners and little English. Colin could only vaguely make sense of the menu and we ended up asking the waitress what she liked and got her to choose for us, and it worked well. This area of Gifu was certainly frequented by the not so conservative Japanese with lots of trendy and hip looking youth where some kind of deal went down in front of our table while we ate and an altercation between a man and woman as we walked home had us wondering what to do. Despite these anomalies (I think) we liked the vibrancy of the place.
Hopefully tomorrow will see a return to a typical week day and we can see the streets and shopping precincts as they usually are and perhaps more as Colin remembered them.