It was almost 5pm, so there wasn’t much time left before everything closed and I hurried off to Shouhou-ji, a temple near to the park. Shouhou-ji has a giant buddha, the Gifu Daibutsu. This is said to be one of Japan’s “Top Three Buddhas” alongside the two in Kamakura and Nara, although the list sometimes swaps this one for Takaoka’s Buddha. Either way, it is indeed a very big buddha. As soon as I stepped into the temple, after paying the entrance fee of 200 yen, I let out a surprised “alaaa!” when seeing its size. During my visit, everyone who entered through the door also all did the same: paused abruptly when seeing the Buddha and exclaimed an "ehhhhh!" at seeing it towering above us.
Although I've visited the buddhas in Kamakura, Nara and Takaoka, I must say that none impressed me nearly as much as Gifu's one! Made out of laquered wood, it seems to have been squeezed into the hall of the temple (alongside dozens of other small statues), its golden-brown combined with the wood of the old building giving it an ominous and serene feeling. We were few people at the temple, but we all sat down on the row of seats in front of it and simply looked at his face for a while.
Eventually my visit ended because I wanted to see a couple other things before they closed the park. Oda Nobunaga used to live in Gifu and they are currently unearthing the ruins of his residence located in the park. While most of the progress is covered with scaffolding and plastics, they've done a bit of a trail around the park where the different rooms would've been.
The clock stricked five, the last ropeway coming down from Gifu Castle, and the rest of the sights on my list officially closed for the day.
After a snack at a nearby fountain I started walking back to my hostel near Gifu Station. It was a long walk, especially since I still had my backpack on, but I didn’t know which bus to take and the small narrow roads in Gifu were quite nice.
Along the way I came across a big shrine and, even though it was past closing time, the grounds were still open. Pausing on my way to the station to visit the shrine, I started going up and up and up numerous steps, miniature shrines were off on one side and a row of houses on the other. I was the only person there so it looked quite mysterious.
They had some nice ema boards of a horse and others with empty faces to draw on. It was a nice big shrine in the quiet city.
I had planned to spend some more time in Gifu the next day, but at the hostel they told me of a festival so I decided to skip my second day. I will definitely have to go back on another trip to finish seeing the sites I skipped, especially the Prefectural History Museum and castle!