Yaotsu (八百津) is a city in south-central Gifu. Most of Yaotsu's attractions are related to Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by letting them flee to Japan. Despite this, Sugihara's birthplace was in nearby Mino although he claimed Yaotsu was his birthplace during his lifetime.
Traditionally a part of Mino province, Yaotsu once flourished as a port town on the Kiso river under the Tokugawa Shogunate. Although off most tourist's radar, Yaotsu has been in the spotlight since the opening of the Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall in 2000. It is a museum that tells the story of how Chiune Sugihara, as Japan's ambassador to Lithuania, saved thousands of Jews during World War II. Many of Yaotsu's tourists come from Israel, and most signs around the memorial hall are trilingual in Japanese, Hebrew and English.
By public transport
Yao Bus is the only way to access the city by public transport, it connects Akeshi Station in neighbouring Kani to 1 Yaotsu Honmachi (八百津本町), the journey takes 20 minutes and costs ¥300. To get to Akeshi from Nagoya one must take Meitetsu Railways and transfer in Inuyama and Shin-Kani, takes 60 minutes. If coming from Takayama one can ride the Mainline to Mino-Ōta station before transferring onto a Meitetsu route to Shin-Kani. If you are coming from Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka you will first head to Nagoya and then take the route from there.
Due to limited public transportation options, a rental car may be a good option. The nearest rental cars can be found in Nakatsugawa, which is a 60-minute drive from Yaotsu. Nagoya also has rental car options, and is a 90-minute drive.
Yao Bus is the only public transportation in the city, it does not serve the cities eastern or northern sides but connects the city centre, one needs a car to access the Chiune Sugihara memorial.
All the attractions in the northern rural areas and around the Chiune Sugihara Memorial require a rental and is highly recommended for travelling around Yaotsu.
- 1 Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall (杉原千畝記念館), 1071, Yaotsu, Kamo District (Not accessible by public transport.), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:30-17:00, closed on monday. The Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall tells the story of Chiune Sugihara, who saved thousands of Jews while working at the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania during World War II. As antisemitism rose in Europe due to Hitler's rise in power, many Jews wanted to escape the continent but were denied visas by most countries, when Sugihara asked if he could grant visas to Jews, the Japanese government answered no. Despite lacking permission, Sugihara chose to risk his job and grant Japanese visas to over 2,000 Jews, letting them escape to japan. This museum also tells stories of the holocaust, stories from Japanese Jews, and features a re-creation of the consulate in Lithuania. ¥300 for Adults, Free for children.
- 2 Jindonooka Park (人道の丘公園) (Outside of memorial hall). Open at all times. Park outside of memorial hall with monuments to the Holocaust, Sugihara and to Japanese-Lithuanian relations. Free.
- 3 Gohou Waterfall (五宝滝) (5 km north of the city centre). Open at all times. Gotou is a scenic spot nicknamed the Five Treasure Waterfalls of Yaotsu. The falls lie in the centre of a forest and are busiest during autumn. It is said that Musashi Miyamoto trained here. Free.
- 4 Kamidaida Rice Terraces (上代田棚田). Open at all times. Beautiful rice terraces on a mountain. Free.
- 5 Inaba-jo Park (稲葉城公園), 70-1 Nogami, Yaotsu-cho., ☏ . Open at all times. Ruins of a castle from 1590, all that remains is a reconstructed watch tower providing views of the surrounding area. Free.
- 6 Daisenji (大仙寺), 4345-1 Yaotsu, Kamo District, ☏ . Musashi Miyamoto, one of Japan's most famous swordsmen, is said to have meditated at this temple. In front of the temple lies the stone he meditated on. There is also a garden.
- Yaotsu Festival (八百津まつり), held at the 1 Ofune Shrine this festival has floats glide through the streets of Yaotsu. The floats represent boats alluding to Yaotsu's past as a port on the Kiso River. Held on the second weekend of April, the festivals highlights fall on the Sunday.
- Kutami Festival (クタミまつり), held at the 2 Shirohige Shrine (白鬚神社) in Yaotsu's northern Kutami district. 6 floats are carried through town as Kutami's 6 villages each owned a float. The most notable event of the festival is when Karakuri puppetry is performed on top of the float. Held on the third Sunday of April, a week after the Yaotsu Festival.
- 1 Senbei Hall (せんべい会館), 3744 Yaotsu. Senbei has always been a popular snack in Yaotsu, at its peak there were over 150 senbei factories in Yaotsu, senbei line the walls of this shop and are one of Yaotsu's most popular souvenirs.
- 2 Hinomaru Confectionary (やおつのおやつ屋), 8342 Yaotsu. Founded in 1954, this is one of the few senbei shops that offers guided tours. They have a variety of senbei products ranging from burdock root to Ginger sugar.
- 1 Sankatsuya (三勝屋), 4118-1 Yaotsu, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:00-14:00, 17:00-19:45, closed on Mondays. Founded in 1933 this is the busiest and oldest restaurant in Yaotsu, the three most famous dishes are the Katsudon, Chinese style soba, and Paigu, crispy fried pork back-ribs. ¥530 for Chinese-style soba.
- 2 Kukai Ramen (空海ラーメン), 4250-1, Yaotsu, ☏ . W-M 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00, closed on Tuesdays. Ramen shop with famous Gyoza and Mazesoba. ¥950 per bowl.
- 3 Ikoi (いこい), 808-1 Nishikori, ☏ . 11:30–19:30. Seasonal menu using the freshest ingredients. ¥2000.
- 4 Midoriya Roho (緑屋老舗), 4096-1 Yaotsu, ☏ . Th-Tu 08:00-18:30, closed on Wednesday. Yaotsu's most famous sweet shop, the most popular dish is Kuri Kinton, a sweet invented in Yaotsu made from chestnut. Various types of mochi are also produced, and sweets must be purchased in sets of 10. ¥170-220 per sweet.
- 1 Kuramoto Yamada (蔵元やまだ), 3888-2 Yaotsu, ☏ . 08:00-18:00. Founded in 1886, Kuramoto Yamada is a sake brewery famous around Japan for its Tamakashiwa, a sake that has won many awards. ¥2,000 to ¥4,000.
- 2 Hanamori Sake Brewery (花盛酒造), 4091 Yaotsu, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Weekdays 09:00-19:30, weekends and holidays 09:30-19:00. Sake brewery with both raw and standard sake, along with free samples. Their most popular sake is the Hanazakari Junmai Daiginjo 39. ¥4000-7000 for 1,800 ml bottle, ¥2,000-3,500 for 720 ml bottle.
- 1 Matsuya Ryokan (まつや旅館), 3929-3 Yaotsu, ☏ . Ryokan using local ingredients in their dishes.
- 2 Goho no Taki (料理旅館 五宝の滝), 4767-3 Yaotsu,, ☏ . Inn near Gohou waterfalls, serves barbecue (yakiniku) for dinner.
Pocket Wifi works in the city and can be rented in Nagoya. Most accommodation options have free Wifi.
- Nagoya, Chubu's largest town, 1-hour drive.
- Tsumago and Magome, Former post towns in the Kiso Valley, 80-minute drive.
- Takayama, city with preserved old town in the Japan Alps, 2-hour drive.
|Routes through Yaotsu|
|Ono ← Seki ←||' '||→ Ena → IIda|