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Published on 06.07.2016
Gujo Hachiman, otherwise known as the Water City, is nestled between the mountains of Gifu Prefecture in central Japan. This small riverside town offers a unique opportunity to any visitor, offering beautiful scenery and an authentic experience of a small town Japanese community.
The crystal clear water of Gujo Hachiman forms the main pride for its residents, allowing the production of high quality Sake and Soba noodles. The Yoshida River is the largest river with the smaller Otohime and Kodara flowing into it. Small channels cross through the backstreets, established in 1660 to be used domestically for laundry, washing vegetables and for fire protection. Take an opportunity to drink the famed water at unique to Gujo Hachiman ‘Mizu Fune’ taps dotted along the streets, where glasses are usually provided for tourists.
As seen in the video, lining the streets are shops transporting you to a different era of Japan. Small, locally made handicrafts purchased here would be a perfect souvenir for any visitor!
Rachel in the video walked along the fairy tale-like Igawa Ko Michi, where a canal filled with Koi fish is located in the south of the village. Small packets of Koi food can be bought at dispensers along the canal for 100yen, and the fish usually crowd towards people and rise to the surface when approached. They can even be seen underneath the gutter grates along the paths!
During the summer months, tourists and locals alike fish for freshwater Ayu (Japanese trout), which is then salted and grilled to make a local delicacy. Witness children jumping from the largest ‘jumping bridge’ as a local rite of passage, but this is strictly for experienced locals and not for tourists. Like Rachel in the video, the lower rocks near Shinbashi, next to the village tourist centre, offer a much safer alternative. Water levels do vary daily and the clearness of the water may disguise if the water is too shallow, so only attempt jumping with the guidance of a local.
The Gujo Odori bon dance festival in the village is one of the most famous in Japan, stretching from mid-July to early September. The dance was formed in the Tokugawa era over 400 years ago to inspire a sense of community within all residents, and this hospitality extends to any visitors. It’s not uncommon for crowds to reach 30,000 during Obon season in August – the most exciting time for the festival as dancing begins at sunset and only ends at sunrise.
If you miss out the Gujo Odori, you still can experience the dance in Gujo Hachiman Museum.
Address: 50 Hachimancho Tonomachi Gujo Gifu
Gujo Hachiman is also the birthplace of Japan’s plastic food samples found in front of restaurants and cafes in the country. Almost 80% of food samples you see were produced in this village. Big outlets offer demonstrations of how they are produced and sell key chains to make exciting souvenirs of a unique aspect of Japan. You can even try your hand at making your own realistic, plastic food. A fee for 1 hour workshop is around 1000yen and booking is essential.
Address: Higashi-machi Gujo Hachiman Gifu
Address: Hashimoto-cho Gujo Hachiman Gifu
Sample Village Iwasaki
Address: Jonan-cho Gujo Hachiman Gifu
Source: Rachel and Jun (Youtube)