Monet’s Pond: The Hidden Gem of Seki

The story of an ordinary pond that became a sensation with the help of social media.

Nemichi Shrine’s Namonaki (meaning “nameless”) Pond—only slightly larger than a tennis court—has been a social-media sensation ever since it first splashed onto the scene in the summer of 2015. It is known by most as “Monet’s Pond,” and while this name is not official, it truly encompasses the essence of the place. Just one look at the colorful Japanese carp swimming through the waterlilies in the clear, turquoise water, and it is easy to see how the name stuck.

The most interesting part of Namonaki Pond, though, was that it wasn’t intentionally created to attract tourists. The original purpose of the pond—which remains to be one of its main functions to this day—was as an irrigation reservoir.

In the 1990’s, the pond had a very different atmosphere as it was overgrown with weeds until the owner of the neighboring Itadori Flower Park decided to clean it up. After some serious weeding he then garnered the help of the local neighborhood council and planted water lilies. The Japanese carp were introduced at a later date; they were provided by locals that weren’t able to care for them anymore.

One of the reasons that the pond gathers so much attention is because of its clear, pristine water. The secret behind the water lies in the composition of Mt. Koga, the source of the pond’s spring water. Mt. Koga is made up of rhyolite (ryumongan in Japanese, a type of volcanic rock), which is believed to cause its spring water to lack the essential nutrients for microbes to form, hence the unbelievably clear, natural spring water. (The water is so clear that even the smallest change in sunlight [or lack thereof] will alter the water’s color.)

In the summer of 2015, about 15 years after local efforts to clean it up began, pictures of Namonaki Pond were randomly posted to several social media platforms and it became an instant sensation. On a national holiday in the following November, it was reported that 3,000 people came to visit the pond. And in the following May, during the 2016 Golden Week holiday period, it’s said that the pond saw an average of 3,000 people per day. At the time the surrounding facilities were not as developed as they are today, resulting in major traffic congestion that ended up requiring the help of the police to be sorted out.

Even now at the time of this article (Winter 2018), it remains to be a popular destination for tourists, and pictures of it appear in many springtime magazines. If you ever find yourself at the pond, make sure to wander around to the Nemichi Shrine and Itadori Flower Park, if it wasn’t for these places the pond wouldn’t have become what it is today.

The Heart Carp

According to rumors on the web, if you spot the Japanese carp with a bright-red heart on its head then you will find love. I have gone three times and have yet to spot this fish… good luck!

Miscellaneous Information

Below is some information that will be useful for planning a trip to Namonaki Pond, like the seasonal characteristics, directions, and other general tidbits for making sure that you see the pond in prime condition.

Seasonal Beauty

Depending on the time of the year, there will be seasonal flowers and colors that decorate the pond, so if possible, deciding when to go is something to take into consideration. Here are a few of the seasonal characteristics (taken from the sign below):

1.) Water lily flowers bloom from late May to late October (best seen from mid-June to mid-July)
*flower buds open when the temperature rises to at least 25°Celsius, normally from around 11:30am

2.) Fresh green water lilies can be seen from mid-April to late November, while colored (red, yellow, etc.) ones are from late December to late July
*from mid-April to late July you will be able to see a mix of both fresh green leaves and older red/orange leaves, creating a very colorful pond

3.) The autumn leaves of the Japanese maple trees surrounding the pond are best seen from mid-November to early December
*during this time the Japanese maple trees’ reflections can be seen clearly on the surface of the water

Directions

*Going by Car

The easiest and fastest way to get to “Monet’s Pond” is by car: driving from JR Gifu Station will take around an hour while going from Nagaragawa Railway’s Mino-shi Station will take about 35 minutes. Luckily, the pond is near Itadori Flower Park, where there are a total of three parking lots available to use (I went during a national holiday and had to park in the third parking lot; weekends during peak water-lily blossoming and autumn foliage seasons will also be crowded).
Google “Itadori Park Flower,” and you should be able to use that information to navigate there.

Itadori Flower Park

The Itadori Flower Park- here you can purchase an assortment of flowers and other plants

*Using Public Transportation

Unfortunately there are no train stations near Namonaki Pond, so you will have to take a bus (from JR Gifu Station, Seki Station, or Mino-shi Station), or use a taxi from Minoshi Station.

The three different bus routes are as follows:

1.) JR Gifu Station (Gifu Bus [Gifu Itadori Line・Bus Stop 12], around 70 min, 660 yen) >> Horado Kiwi Plaza >> Ajisai-en Mae

2.) Seki Station’s Seki City Terminal (Gifu Bus [Seki Itadori line], around 60 min, 300 yen) >> Horado Kiwa Plaza >> Ajisai-en Mae

3.) Mino-shi Station (Gifu Bus [Makidani Line], around 35 min, 300 yen) >> Horado Kiwi Plaza >> Ajisai-en Mae

No matter which route you choose, you will have to transfer at Horado Kiwi Plaza, from which you will want to take the Itadori Fureai Bus (free・15 min) and get off at either Ajisai-en Mae (150m away from the pond), or Shiratani-Kannon Mae (400m away). Located in the timetables below are the times for buses from all of the optional routes and the Itadori Fureai Bus↴↴↴↴↴↴

Itadori Fureai Bus Timetable (Updated April, 2018):

Weekday Timetable

Weekend and National Holiday Timetable

A taxi from Mino-shi Station (the closest train station) to the pond will take around 40 min and cost 10,000 to 12,000 yen (Around 2,500-3,000 yen per person if split by 4 people).

*Please note that the times and fares of buses are subject to change, for questions concerning the validity of information please contact us at Go Gifu.

Links

・Itadori Flower Park (Jpn):
http://www.itadori-flower.com/home

・For Daily Pictures of the Pond (Jpn):
http://www.itadori-flower.com/home/Monet

・Gifu Tourism Page:
http://travel.kankou-gifu.jp/en/see-and-do/108/

Warnings

・After heavy rain, pond water will become cloudy for about two days
・Do not feed the fish; the oil from the food will cloud the water
・Flying of drones is not permitted (police will be called on the spot)

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3 responses to “Monet’s Pond: The Hidden Gem of Seki

  1. I’m trying to think of an italian word to describe how impressive this place looks like and the only one that comes to mind is mozzafiato – breathtaking! I checked instagram for more images….incredible. Will share this with others!

  2. Pingback: La célébrité inattendue de l'étang Monet à Gifu - Nippon100·

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