Introducing Ogaki City, Gifu: the stage for Biennale.

History of Ogaki


In the Edo Period, Ogaki was the castle town of Toda-shi Jumangoku. Minoji, the junction between Nakasendo and Tokaido roads, was frequently traveled, and so it was Ogaki flourished as a strategic position. Today the population is approximately 166,000. This calm town is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range of dominated by Mt. Ibuki in the west, and bountifully blessed with delicious water and quiet atmosphere. Ogaki served as the final stop along Matsuo Basho's The Narrow Road to a Far Province (Oku no Hosomichi). Modern day Ogaki boasted a thriving textile industry, however in more recent years the city has taken on the role of IT tactical headquarters for Gifu, through enterprising Softopia developments, and the cultivation of human resources at IAMAS.

Date: 2006.09.13 4:51 AM |

Ogaki Castle

It is reported that the construction of this castle was begun in the 13th year of Tensho (1585), having been decided upon as the stronghold for Mitsunari Ishida, the spearhead of the western forces at the Battle of Sekigahara. The castle tower has a rare structure of four levels, and because of this elegance was counted as one of the few national treasure castles. However, regretfully owing to war damage it was destroyed in a fire, and the current castle is a reinforced concrete reconstruction. It is said that the first castle built in this location was in the 16th century, however it is thought that it was a smaller structure at that time. To understand the full picture of the castle and the surrounding samurai houses and merchant town it is recommendable to look at the reconstruction model of the former Ogaki City streets, exhibited at the Folk Museum right next to the castle.

Date: 2006.09.13 4:50 AM |

Funamachi Port site and Sumiyoshi Lighthouse

In the southwest part of the old town there are site of the former Ogaki port. In the old days this region was lined with boathouses, as boats going to Kuwana or Mikawa would dock here. After his journey of The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Matsuo Basho also embarked from this location for Kuwana heading towards Ise. Even in the early days of the Showa era, in one year at least 10,000 vessels would come and go. Still after the war, steamships carried passengers heading towards Kuwana through this region. Sumiyoshi Shrine appealed to the gods, praying for ships' navigation safety, and even today a lighthouse remains known as Sumiyoshi Lighthouse. Biennale's logo is designed in the shape of this lighthouse.

Date: 2006.09.13 3:55 AM |

Final Stop of The Narrow Road to a Far Province

The Narrow Road to a Far Province journey was concluded in Ogaki. In his lifetime Basho visited Ogaki four times, this journey was in the second year of Genroku (1689) and his third time. Basho's close poet friends such as Bokuin Tani and Joko Kondo were in Ogaki. Furthermore, many of those that became his disciples were also amongst the Ogaki feudal retainers of Edo, thus Basho style haiku was propagated throughout Mino. In the fall when Basho parted from his Ogaki friends to set off for a trip to Fuwana he recited: "Sadly, I part from you:/ Like a clam torn from its shell,/ I go, the autumn too."(*) Nowadays the whole port area from which Basho's boat departed is maintained as the Basho Memorial Park, and the Basho Memorial Museum is also nearby the final stop of The Narrow Road to a Far Province.
*Haiku Journey: Basho's Narrow Road to a Far Province by Dorothy Britton, Kodansha International, 1974.

Date: 2006.09.13 1:56 AM |


Reorganizing the Ogaki Domain's economy at the end of the Edo Period, the tremendous helmsman of political conditions around the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, Tesshin Ohara, lead the domain to peace and security. He was a man who had a penchant for plums and sake, and ran an elegant resort north of the castle in Hayashi village (now Hayashi-cho). He christened the resort as Mukauso for his adoration of the Zen priest Otori Sesso, known in classical Chinese as Soshi. This resort was a place where he could escape public affairs and cultivate calm and magnanimity. In addition, it was a locale where he could discuss world affairs with close friends. Now only one part, Taiseisha, is preserved at Zensho-ji near the Funamachi Port Site to impart the fascinating aspects of architectural tastes of men of letters from the closing days of Tokugawa. Incidentally, in those days Sesso was the chief priest of Zensho-ji and Tesshin's grave is also here.


Date: 2006.09.13 12:00 AM |

Softopia Japan


The urban area that has been created as a base for Gifu Prefecture's aims to enterprise research and development related to IT is located approximately two kilometers east of JR Ogaki station. A bus service runs from the station to Softopia every 15 minutes. The two Center Building's towers that may be viewed from the trains were designed by Kisho Kurokawa, and all the other buildings are unique, different designs. Established 11 years ago, the atmosphere has since settled down as the institution has taken root. There is an observation deck on the top floor of the Center Building that anyone can freely enter and survey Ogaki City with one unbroken view.

Date: 2006.09.12 11:07 PM |