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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Trip to Gujo Hachiman

We spent some time last May in Hikone in Shiga Prefecture. Being a clueless American, I looked at a map and thought it didn't look too far to visit Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture. I wanted to go see the castle and the statue of Yamauchi Kazutoyo, his wife Chiyo, and the horse she bought for him.

Gujo Hachiman Gifu

At the tourist center in Hikone, the kind and patient guides produced a map and plotted our course. Thereupon we set off on a very long and complicated 3-hour trip to the mountains, the last leg taking place on a local train line with a very limited schedule.

Gujo Hachiman Castle Gifu

Finally we arrived in Gujo Hachiman and took a taxi to our destination. We liked the statue and the castle was small but attractive, with a mural of Chiyo and Kazutoyo painted near the entrance. We didn't have much time to spend in the city, which was a shame because it was quite charming and beautiful.

Gujo Hachiman Gifu Prefecture

The trip back to Hikone seemed endless. It grew late and in the dark we became a bit confused. A very kind gentleman noticed our distress and helped us board the train we wanted. We returned to a quiet and dimly lit Hikone at 10:00 pm, and we ran down the street to our hotel. My advice to others is: Don't go to Gujo Hachiman from Hikone for just one day! Learn how to read a map! Chiyo and Kazutoyo did not live in Gujo Hachiman Castle! It turns out that Chiyo was born in Gujo Hachiman.

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