WHEN YOU VISIT Gujo Hachiman you can expect to be immersed in an authentic small town Japanese experience that is unique to an "off the beaten path" town. Where the traditional way of living is on a very human scale and where people passing each other in the street still greet each other with a small bow. 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.
Visitors come to enjoy the pure mineral water that flows from every tap in town. The clean water and sound environmental practices translate into good food and drink. Ayu, soba, and sake all depend on water for their flavor.
Some residents can be seen using the town's unique system of small waterways to wash laundry and dishes following a very strict set of rules that describe what may be washed where. This practice has survived for centuries and ensures that all households have access to clean water.
The famous dance festival — Gujo Odori — attracts many visitors. The festival started over 400 years ago and continues today. During the four days of Obon in mid-August, dances continue all night.
The dance begins on the same night as Kyoto's Gion Festival and continues for 30 nights. It begins at the Yasaka Shrine and moves to another one each night. The Gujô Odori Preservation Society tell musical stories through an "ohayashi" which consists of a soloist, a shamisen, a taiko, and a shakuhachi.
Listeners participate by dancing around the stage. During "Urabon" (August 13 to 16) the dancing continues until 5:00am. More than 20,000 visitors come to town for the odori.
Gujo is a leading producer of food replicas in Japan. Many of the food replicas, used by restaurants to decorate their windows and inform patrons of their dishes, are produced here.