Yōrō Railway

Gifu Prefecture, Japan | C.1913

Photo Credit: Ebony Bizys

Covering 36 miles through the center of Japan, the Yōrō Railway runs through the landlocked Gifu Prefecture. Although the Railway was first opened in 1913, it cuts through areas of Japan whose histories date back as early as the 4th century.

The land that makes up modern-day Gifu Prefecture was first documented during the 4th century when it joined the Yamato Court, an ancient polity of Japan. The area later became a hotbed for many historic battles including a major battle during the Jinshin War in 672, which led to the reign of Japan’s 40th monarch Emperor Tenmu.

The region’s long history with war and weaponry continued well into the medieval era. Gifu Prefecture emerged as Japan’s center for swordmaking and the city of Seki became known for making the best swords in the country. During the 16th century, the prefecture received its modern name after the capital city of Gifu, which was named by Oda Nobunaga, a powerful lord known as the first “Great Unifier” of Japan. During the 1560s, Nobunaga launched a war against other samurai to unify the country.

When the Yōrō Railway was built in the early 20th century, the region had entered into a relatively peaceful and prosperous time. Of course, WW2 would bring colossal damage to Japan with the United States carrying out air raids over the prefecture and bombing Gifu, which operated as an industrial center at the time.

Today, the area is a center for fashion and aerospace engineering. Those traveling on the Yōrō Railway can experience breathtaking views throughout the Prefecture including the Yōrō Mountains and the ancient lands that hold so much of its history.

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