Gujo Hachiman, the Clear River Waterways of the ‘Water City’

Gujo Hachiman, the Charms of a Historic Castle Town

Gujo Hachiman, often referred to as the “Water City,” is renowned for the exceptional cleanliness of its waterways. It is situated centrally within Gifu Prefecture in Japan.

This picturesque town is located along the banks of the pristine Nagaragawa River.

It is characterized by its cobblestone streets, ancient wooden buildings, and tranquil waterways.

Additionally, approximately 40,000 reside here, covering about 107.71 km2.

Moreover, Gujo Hachiman’s history dates back over four centuries, with its roots deeply intertwined with the feudal era of Japan.

The castle is known as a yamashiro, or “mountain castle,” located at the top of the 350-meter-high Hachiman Mountain.

Established as a castle town in the 16th century, Gujo Hachiman flourished under the rule of the Oda and Tokugawa clans.

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Clear Waterways Amidst the Town

The water channels in Gujo Hachiman, utilized since the 17th century, remain operational to this day.

The water in Gujo Hachiman remains clean due to several factors.

Meticulous efforts by the local community ensure proper waste management practices, preventing contamination of the water sources.

The town’s geographical location, nestled amidst pristine natural surroundings, contributes to the purity of the water.

Additionally, stringent environmental regulations and ongoing conservation efforts play a crucial role in maintaining the cleanliness of the waterways.

The traditional infrastructure, including well-maintained drainage systems and efficient water treatment facilities, further contribute to the preservation of the water’s clarity and purity.

Locals frequently utilize the pristine water from these channels for tasks such as laundry and washing rice and vegetables due to its exceptional cleanliness.

Additionally, some of these waterways are home to koi fish, adding to the scenic charm of the area. Be sure to keep an eye out for these beautiful fish gracefully swimming in the drains.

Japanese Traditional Wooden Home in Gujo Hachiman

Traditional homes and buildings, constructed primarily from wood and characterized by their elegant simplicity, grace the cobblestone streets.

The structures typically feature low-pitched tiled roofs adorned with intricate wooden beams and eaves. These elements provide both structural support and aesthetic appeal to the buildings.

Sliding paper doors, known as shoji, and tatami mat flooring are common elements of interior design.

Moreover, many buildings boast latticed windows and verandas, allowing for ample natural light and ventilation while maintaining privacy.

As visitors wander through the town, they can admire the craftsmanship of the wooden facades. These facades are often adorned with intricate carvings and detailing that reflect the town’s artisanal heritage.

From the grandeur of historic temples and shrines to the quaint charm of merchant houses, Gujo Hachiman’s architecture invites exploration and appreciation of its timeless beauty.

The Traditional Dance and Festival

Bon Odori is a traditional Japanese dance performed during the Obon festival.

Gujo Hachiman maintains the tradition of Bon Odori throughout the year, unlike many other regions where it is performed for a limited time during the summer festivities.

Residents and tourists gather in the streets, dressed in vibrant yukatas, dancing to taiko drums and folk melodies.

The Art of Food Replicas

In Gujo Hachiman, skilled artisans meticulously craft plastic replicas of dishes, known as “sampuru,” using intricate techniques and attention to detail.

These lifelike representations of food adorn the windows of restaurants and eateries throughout the town, enticing passersby with their realistic appearance.

Artisans carefully mold and paint each replica by hand. They ensure that every aspect, from the texture of the ingredients to the shine of the sauce, is faithfully recreated.

These meticulously crafted replicas portray a steaming bowl of ramen, a platter of sushi, or a decadent parfait.

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Local Craftsmen and Museum

Gujo Hachiman houses skilled artisans crafting pottery, lacquerware, and textiles in meticulous workshops.

Gujo Honzome Dyeing employs a 430-year-old traditional method with local indigo dye.

Originally, a tax office built in 1920 during the Taisho era, the Hakurankan Museum showcases an intriguing blend of modern and retro architectural styles.

Divided into four sections—water, history, crafts, and Gujo Odori—the museum offers diverse insights.