Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Gifu
Population
2,107,687

Gujo Hachiman

Local vibes of Ayu sweetfish and all-night dancing.

Gujo Hachiman is often overlooked for the nearby Takayama or Shirakawa-go, but it offers a less-polished, local vibe and a culture built upon access to waterways.

Low-rise wood-and-plaster buildings echo this former castle town’s feudal past. Once there, it’s an easily walkable area and a lovely stop while visiting the often underrated Chubu region, a large area of Japan situated south of Tokyo.

Water, water, everywhere

Gujo Hachiman

Photo by: Nobu3withfoxy Fishermen look for local fish.

Gujo Hachiman and surrounding towns which make up Gujo sit at the confluence of three rivers and have over 100 natural hot springs. For travelers, not only is it a relaxing escape with bridges, riverside cafes and canal-lined streets, but also a chance to see centuries-old traditions still standing today.

Locals still wash rice, vegetables, dishes and clothes, or cool drinks and fruit in water in front of their homes. And, clean water continues to infuse food-and-drink culture in practices like making soba noodles and sake.

Common river dwellers, ayu sweetfish, are a local delicacy and thrive there. Gujo’s ayu are prized as some of Japan’s best strictly due to the cleanliness of the pristine water. Especially in their summer peak, fish swim into town – like tourists, seemingly lured by Gujo’s quiet, rustic charm. Try ayu with salt, fried, or ayu-zushi in sushi form.

Cultural highlights

View from Hachiman Castle

Photo by: Jeff Boyd View from atop the castle.

Nowadays, Gujo Hachiman is actually the biggest producer of Japan’s plastic food replicas, which you can buy or take workshops to create.

Events and attractions

Event-wise, one of the biggest is in summer time. Gujo’s population swells to around 250,000 throughout the ultra long celebration of Gujo Odori Festival (mid-July to the first weekend of September). Anyone can join in nightly traditional street dances, climaxing during the Obon holiday in mid-August, with four nights of dancing until dawn.

A gem to culture vultures, Gujo’s 17 temples and shrines contain highlights such as Jion-Zenji Temple. The garden is particularly glorious in spring and autumn. With its waterfall and pond, it’s a soothing pocket of calm.

Visit Gujo Hachiman Castle, from the 16th century but rebuilt in 1933, to take in one of Japan’s oldest wooden reconstructed castles. That’s because most castles rebuilt after World War II are concrete. Viewed from this mountain castle, Gujo’s shape below resembles a fish, with its ‘tail’ disappearing into an expressway.

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How To Get There

Address

Gujo Highway, Gujō-shi, Gifu-ken, Japan

By train

From JR Gifu Station take JR Takayama Main Line 35 minutes to Mina-Ota Station. Change to Nagaragawa Railway one hour 26 minutes to Gujo Hachiman Station.

By bus

From Meitetsu Gifu Station take the Gifu Bus Hachiman Express one hour 10 minutes to Gujo Hachiman Jokamachi Plaza.

Where To Stay

Yanaka no Taisuke
  • Hachimancho Shimadani 841 Gujo-Shi, Gifu 501-4222
  • 9.1/10
  • 1.1 km
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Machiyado - Female Only
  • Hachimancho Shimadani 674-1 Gujo-Shi, Gifu 501-4222
  • 9.2/10
  • 1.2 km
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Jogakebo
  • Hachimancho Sakanamachi 961 Gujo-Shi, Gifu 501-4215
  • 8.2/10
  • 1.2 km
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Miharaya Ryokan
  • Hachiman-cho Yanagimachi 266 Gujo-Shi, Gifu 501-4214
  • 8.5/10
  • 1.3 km
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