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Gujo Odori singers and musicians
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Gujo Odori dancing in Hon Machi
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Lanterns lit alongside the Yoshida River an a Gujo Odori dancing night
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Gujo Odori musicians and singers performing in Shin Machi
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Gujo Odori Junior Club singers and musicians performing
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Gujo Odori dancers dancing in Hon Machi
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Gujo Odori night shadows
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A Nagara River Railway train in Gujo Hachiman station






Summer in Gujo Hachiman

Gujo Odir dancers dancing in front of the Kinenkan Gujo Hachiman Tourism Centre


The Gujo Odori bon dance festival is a major summer event attracting hundreds of thousands people from across Japan and around the world. This annual dance festival runs for 30 nights beginning in mid-July and ending in early September.

Gujo Odir dancers dancing in front of the Kinenkan Gujo Hachiman Tourism Centre

Gujo Odori was inducted as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in December 2022.

Gujo Odori lanterns

It has an unbroken history of over 400 years and is one of the most important bon dance festivals in Japan.

Gujo Odori singers and musicians performing Gujo Odori Kawasaki

All the music and singing is performed live while hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people dance in the streets. This number increases greatly on the four nights of Obon in August when people dance until dawn the following morning.

Gujo Odori dancers dancing in Shin Machi

Summer is also when yukata (a light cotton style of kimono) can be worn everywhere in town. It is also possible to rent a yukata for a night of dancing, but you might want to buy one to take home to remember an unforgettable night of dancing in Japan. You will find that many bars and restaurants stay open late to accommodate the dance crowds during and after the official dance times.

Summer evening

The unmistakable clip-clopping sound of wooden gaeta, referred to by locals as happy can also be heard. If you don't have your own gaeta most ryokans lend them, or you can buy yourself a pair as a souvenir of an unforgettable night of dancing.

Lanterns along the Yoshida River riverbanks

Kerosene lanterns are lit along the banks of the Yoshida River on nights when Gujo Odori is held lending an ethereal atmosphere to the centre of town.

Dancing Gujo Odori

The location if Gujo Odori changes throughout the summer so be sure to check the Gujo Odori schedule to find the exact location for the day you plan to attend.

Summer ayu fishing in the Yoshida River

There are also many other things to see and do throughout the summer. One of the most popular is to fish for ayu in the Yoshida or Nagara rivers. Fishing for Ayu is unlike typical fly fishing or lure fishing and takes a lot of patience to master along with a license and specialized fishing gear. Of course you can also enjoy eating this tender and sweet fish in many restaurants throughout town.

Upcoming Events and Things to See and Do

2024 Gujo Odori Schedule

2024 will again see a return to a full Gujo Odori dance schedule, 30 nights of festive dancing, rain or shine. And of course 2024 will also see a full return to all night "testusya odori" dancing at Obon on August 13, 14, 15 and 16! Be sure to plan ahead as accommodation can be difficult to find on dancing days, especially at Obon!

Gujo Odori Dancing at Obon


You can see the whole 2024 Gujo Odori schedule here.



Gujo Odori Registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

It was officially decided at the UNESCO Intergovernmental Commission held in Morocco in 2022 to register Gujo Odori along with 40 other Bon Festivals as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The Kansui Kakeodori dance of Meiho, Gujo City is included in the application for registration of "Furyu Odori as a Bon event", meaning that two UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages were simultaneously created in Gujo City.

Mino City, Takayama City, and Shirakawa Village, which are adjacent to Gujo City, each have significant cultural heritage. The Gassho-style houses of Shirakawa-go is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while Mino Washi, and the Takayama Festival are UNESCO World Heritage designated Intangible Cultural Heritages. This makes the area around Gujo Hachiman a cultural gathering place that is rare in Japan

Gujo Odori dancing infront of the Kinenkan Tourism Association building



Sustainable Tourism

Gujo Hachiman Sustainable Tourism Badge

The Nagara River Basin, which includes Gujo Hachiman, has been selected by Green Destinations as one of the World's Top 100 destinations in 2021!

Nature is deeply connected to Japanese people’s life and ecotourism is a wonderful way of discovering both Japanese culture and landscape. Japan now now its own Sustainable Tourism Standards for Destinations accredited by the GSTC proving the country’s commitment to implementing sustainable tourism.



Gujo Hachiman, Not far away, but a world apart...

A view of Gujo Hachiman Castle in the autumn.

Between October and March mist, sometimes heavy, is often seen in the mountains surrounding the castle creating an ethereal effect when seen from above.

Experience Japan "Off the Beaten Path" in a truly unique way

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 sreet scene

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.

Download our free self-guided visit with detailed map in PDF format to plan your visit to Gujo Hachiman!


Seven not to Miss Experiences in Gujo Hachiman

1. Gujo Odori - Mid July to Early September

A crowd of people dancing Gujo Odori in front of the Kinenkan

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." You can learn more about Gujo Odori here and find the start time and location of each day's dancing here.

New: Gujo Odori Guided Experience with Sugi Interface

You can now particpate in a fully guided Gujo Odori experience with Sugi Interface Studio. More information about this experience, including terms and prices can be found here.


2. Ryokan or Minshuku Experience - anytime

Night view of a ryokan room in Gujo Hachiman

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

Jion Ji zen temple garden in autumn

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.

You can learn more about this beautiful temple and its garden on our Temples page. You will also find a link to Jion Ji's official website there.


4. Plastic Food Replica Stores and Workshops - anytime and unique to Gujo Hachiman!

Food sample replica food workshop.

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 Yoshida or Nagara River - summer

Ayu fishing on the Yoshida river

For a truly unique experience, wade into the Yoshida or 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

Riding the Nagaragawa Railway

Named as one of the 5 Must-Ride Local Lines in Japan, 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.


7. Relaxation and Mindfulness - anytime

Matcha and Japanese sweets placed in a tray

Gujo Hachiman offers a unique alternative to the hectic and sometimes overwhelming urban experience that Japan can be. It's a chance to collect your thoughts, reflect upon your amazing journey, and to connect with Japanese people, customs, and experiences that are unique to a small town.

Highway Bus "Pick Up Service" between Gujo Hachiman Highway Bus Stop and Downtown Gujo Hachiman (Jokamachi Plaza)

This convenient pick-up service is timed to connect with the highway bus services offered by Kintetsu, Meitetsu and Nohi Bus companies. Gujo Hachiman is an intermediate stop on highway bus lines that serve Hida Takayama making it easy for visitors to stop off in Gujo Hachiman on the way to or from Hida Takayama.

A map showing the location of the highway bus stop. Click on the "View Larger Map" icon to open in Google Maps and navigate using Google Maps

Important: The highway bus stop is located along the Tokai Hokouriku Highway, approximately 2km out of the centre of town. Advance reservations are required BEFORE your highway bus departure from Nagoya, Takayama or Osaka. Fee : 350 yen

To make a reservation please call: 0120-053155 (9:00am~5:00pm )

Please refer to the pick-up service time table for bus arrival and departure times.


Ongoing Events and News

Designation of Important Preservation District of Historic Buildings

Shokunin Machi looking towards ChoKyo Ji Temple

A view of Shokunin Machi looking towards Chokyou Ji temple.

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

Gujo Hachiman Station

A view of Gujo Hachiman Station which was restored in 2017

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 is part of the Samurai Line. You can visit the Samurai Line's Facebook Page to learn more about this rail link the joins Seki, Mino and Gujo Hachiman

A Nagara River Railway train pauses at Gujo hachiman Station

A Nagara River Railway train pauses at Gujo Hachiman Station on its way southbound to Mino Ota.


Tourist Map and Free Self Guided Tours

観光マップIt is easy to 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

Gujo Odori lessons at the Hakurankan

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: Please check the website below for Gujo Odori lesson and demonstration times.

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.

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Connect With Us

Visit us in person:

Gujo Hachiman Tourism Association

Kinenkan Tourism Centre

520-1, Shimadani,
Hachiman Cho,
Gujo Shi, Gifu ken,

9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily
9:00 am - 6:00 pm during Gujo Odori season

Phone: 0575 67-0002

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