Located in the center of Honshu, Gifu prefecture has the distinction of being the place that changed modern Japanese history forever - the Battle of Sekigahara took place in 1600 in the Gifu town of the same name.
Tokugawa Ieyasu emerged victorious, he and his successors ruled Japan for the next 268 years virtually unchallenged, Japan closed its doors to foreign trade, and Edo (present day Tokyo) became the major city of the country. Sekigahara aside, Gifu still has more than plenty to offer.
Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site, is beautiful all year round but especially breathtaking in the winter, while Gero Onsen is also a popular destination. Can't make it to Kyoto? Try visiting Takayama, affectionately nicknamed "Little Kyoto." Kuri-kinton, a chestnut sweet, is the local delicacy, but if you have room to splurge definitely have some Hida beef!