Passed through the delightful, though touristy town of Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture today. The sound of fresh running water is everywhere (3 rivers run through town) and there are a number of fine temples, shrines and gardens as well as streets of traditional housing.
A fine castle is perched on the hill overlooking Gujo Hachiman and the views over the town below and surrounding mountains are superb.
British writer Alan Booth mentions the town in his book Looking For The Lost: "The lanes...are narrow, steeply walled, and end in dimly lanterned eating places or in small stone bridges that arch over splashing streams. It was like an Edo-era stage set."
If possible it is best to spend a night here in a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) or minshuku (B&B) so you have the town to yourself after the tour buses have left at around 5pm and before they arrive again the next day.
Gujo Hachiman is probably best known now for the Gujo Odori, which lasts from mid-July to mid-September and includes all night street dancing involving thousands of yukata-clad dancers during Obon in mid-August.
Access: There are express buses from both Gifu Station (approx 1 hour) and Nagoya Station (approx 2 hours) or take the more scenic but slower train route from Nagoya Station (2 hours and 45 minutes). This involves catching a JR Takayama Line train to Mino Ota via Gifu, then changing to the Nagaragawa Railway for the journey to Gujo Hachiman Station.
Gujo Hachiman is easily explored on foot or there is bicycle hire at the Tourist Office (Tel: 0575 67 0002)
Festival Happi coats