Gujo Hachiman, Not far away, but a world apart...
Experience "Off the Beaten Path" Japan in Way That's Unique, Unforgettable and Accessible
Visit Gujo Hachiman and you can expect to be immersed in an authentic small town Japanese experience unique to an "off the beaten path" town. Here the traditional way of living is on a very human scale. People passing each other in the street still greet each other with a small bow, and exchange a passing greeting.
Gujo Hachiman offers visitors a rare opportunity to see, and be part of, a traditional way of life that has changed little over many years.
Visitors to Gujo Hachiman may find the use of English somewhat limited, but can always expect a warm welcome wherever they may go in town.
Summer in Gujo Hachiman
Summer in Gujo Hachiman offers visitors a special opportunity to experience old traditions, some with a new twist, and some in ways not possible in larger towns and cities. The most significant event of the summer is Gujo Odori. This is when you will find the town at its busiest, and when you might find it difficult to get hotel reservations! Be sure to plan ahead and consult the Gujo Odori dance schedule to make sure you don't miss your chance to participate in this annual extraordinary event.
Six Things To Not Miss in Gujo Hachiman
1. Gujo Odori - Mid July to Early September
Participate in a unique and accessible Japanese cultural event in a way few foreigners ever get to experience. Dance all night to traditional odori songs like "Kawasaki", "Harukoma" or "Gengen Bala Bala." Dance lessons are available daily at the Gujo Hachiman Kinenkan Tourist Centre at 11:00 am 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. during Gujo Odori season. You can learn more about Gujo Odori here and find the start time and location of each day's dancing here.
2. Ryokan or Minshuku Experience - anytime
Enjoy a truly authentic traditional ryokan or minshuku experience at any of the many ryokans or minshukus listed on the accommodation page. All these ryokans or minshukus are small, intimate, and family run. The Gujo Hachiman Kinenkan Tourist Centre can help you find the one that's right for you. Please note that accommodation during the Gujo Odori season is best booked well in advance. Learn more about surprisingly affordable ryokan and minshuku accommodation in Gujo Hachiman.
3. Jion Ji Temple garden - anytime
The Japanese garden at this small temple is simply magnificent. But more importantly, it is peaceful, soul restoring, and uncrowded. Be sure to listen for the "suikinkutsu" or "water harp cave". While the autumn colours are stunning, the other seasons also have their charms.
4. Plastic Food Replica Stores and Workshops - anytime and unique to Gujo Hachiman!
Few people know that the ubiquitous plastic food sample seen outside virtually every restaurant in Japan was invented in Gujo Hachiman. Visit the place were 70% of Japan's "food samples" are made. Be sure to try your hand at making your very own lettuce leaf or shrimp tempura sample! Learn more
5. Ayu Fishing in the Nagara River - summer
For a truly unique experience, wade into the Nagara River and try your luck at catching your dinner! (A permit is required but easily obtained!) For the less adventurous, be sure to try this gourmet treat in restaurants around town! A local can point you in the right direction.
6. Ride the Nagara River Railway - anytime
A ride on the Nagara River Railway is a trip back in time to when travel was exciting but relaxing, and the views from trains were unmatched. The small "one man car" trains of the Nagara River Railway offer practical, relaxing, and hassle free transportation for visitors seeking to reach Gujo Hachiman from Mino Ota. And starting April 2016, the week-end only specially designed all first class "Nagara" offers a unique "not to be missed" rail experience daily between Mino Ota and Gujo Hachiman. Learn more about this unique rail service.
Upcoming Events and Things to See and Do
2017 Gujo Odori Bon Dance Festival
One of the three most important bon dance festivals in Japan, Gujo Odori is an event not to be missed. This year the festival starts on Saturday July 8th, and continues until Saturday September 2nd. You can see the full dance schedule here. Tetsuya Odori, when Gujo Odori is danced though the night until dawn the next morning, will be held on August 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th. Be sure to reserve your accommodation well in advance if you are planning to attend in August!
Ongoing Events and News
Designation of Important Preservation District of Historic Buildings
The Japanese National Government, in 2013, designated 14.1 hectares in the centre of the central historic district as an "Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings." Specifically the buildings along Ote machi, Shokunin machi, Yanagi machi and Kajia machi. Visitors can easily find, and visit this historic area which surrounds the central Jokamachi Plaza. Download our free self-guided Historical Visit tour and map.
Gujo Hachiman Station Designated as an Important Cultural Property
The Japanese National Government has designated Gujo Hachiman Station, built in 1929, as an Important Cultural Property. The designation covers the station building, the platforms, and the bridge between the two platforms. The station is owned the Nagara River Railway and was recently carefully restored its original design. You can visit the Samurai Line's Facebook Page to learn more about this rail link the joins Seki, Mino and Gujo Hachiman
Tourist Map and Free Self Guided Tours
Visitors can easily visit all the key sights and places in Gujo Hachiman on foot in one day. Overnight visitors may especially appreciate the calmness of the town in early evening and morning.
Download our Free City Map and start planing your visit!
You can also take a free self-guided tour. Download the free map and walking tour directions. Allow about 2 hours for the full visit which includes the historical centre of town. A self guided river walk tour is also available for free download. It's the perfect way to experience Gujo Hachiman in the Spring and Autumn.
Daily Gujo Odori Lessons and Presentation
Everyone is welcome to learn Gujo Odori. The Gujo Hachiman Hakurankan hosts daily Gujo Odori lessons in the two most important dances - Kawasaki and Haru Koma. The pace is relaxed, entertaining and easy to follow. Those wishing to simply observe are also welcome.
When: Daily at 11 am, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Lessons are in Japanese and English. Everyone is welcome and it's not difficult to join in.
Where: Gujo Hachiman Hakurankan, Tono machi near to Jokamachi Plaza
Adult Admission：520 JPY Children 310 JPY. Entry to the gift shop is free. Open daily except for New Year's holiday.