Japan City Guides: Ogaki, Gifu
- Situated 44km north of Nagoya
- Known for its links with the haiku poet Matsuo Basho
- Population: 162,000
- Located on the Ibi River
- Easy to navigate on foot, rental bicycle or bus
- Town has some good museums
- Ogaki Castle rebuilt in 1959
- Easy day trip from Nagoya
- Delicious water
Ogaki is best known nowadays for its connections with wandering Edo-period haiku master, Matsuo Basho (松尾芭蕉). Ogaki was the final destination in 1689 of Basho's epic journey to the northeast of Japan related in Oku no Hosomichi. A Haiku Journey: Basho's Narrow Road to a Far Province (Illustrated Japanese Classics)
References to the poet are everywhere in Ogaki: in the names of restaurants and shops, as well as Basho statues, museums and the town's Basho Festival in November.
A reconstruction in concrete of the Battle of Sekigahara near Ogaki
Basho monument and statue in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture
Back in the Edo-period, Ogaki was a strategic town on the east-west Nakasendo route between Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) and the Suimon River, which runs right throught the town, was navigable and joined with the larger Ibi River, making Ogaki a major river port at the time for the trans-shipment of goods.
Ogaki Castle, which dates from 1500, played an important role in the events leading up to the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.
In 1600 Ieyasu Tokugawa comprehensively defeated his rivals the Toyotomi clan at nearby Sekigahara.
The forces loyal to the Toyotomis were lead by Ishida Mitsunari who had his main base in Ogaki.
Apart from some stone walls, there is not much left of the original castle, which was beseiged and taken by Tokugawa after the battle of Sekigahara and destroyed in World War II.
The small keep in Ogaki Park is a modern reconstruction, built in 1959 and houses a history museum, dedicated to the events at Sekigahara.
There's a larger local history museum (Kyodokan - Tel: 0584 75 1231) at the back of the Castle Park. Walking south from the castle brings you to a small Basho Museum near the Shiki no hiroba plaza - a pleasant canalized area on the Suimon River.
A short walk south of here is a Tourist Information Center (Tel: 0584 77 1535) - there's another at Ogaki Station, Basho's statue and a reconstructed wooden lighthouse.
Ogaki has a pleasant, laid-back charm and is well-worth a visit if only to sample some of its famed bean paste, sake or persimmon sweets.
Suimon River, Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture
Access - Getting to Ogaki
Chubu International Airport is the nearest airport to Ogaki. There are direct connecting trains to Gifu on the Meitetsu Centrair service (55 minutes), then change to JR for the short hop to Ogaki.
Ogaki Station Platform, Gifu Prefecture
Ogaki is 44km north from Nagoya. By Tokaido Shinkansen, Nagoya is 52 minutes from Osaka and 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo.
From Nagoya Station, Ogaki is around 30 minutes by JR Ogaki-yuki kaisoku on the Tokaido Line via Gifu.
Ogaki also connects to Kuwana and Yoro Park by the Kintetsu Yoro branch line. If you are driving from Nagoya on the Meishin highway exit at Ogaki Interchange.
Getting Around Ogaki
Ogaki is easy enough to get around on foot or bicycle.
Site of Reversible Destiny, Gifu, Japan