Gujo Odori Dance Performance | Japan Guide

Tourists and local people all dance merrily together in one big circle.

Gujo Odori, which is famous for the song starting, “When you leave Gujo Hachiman, even if it is not raining, your sleeve will be wet from tears of sadness…” is one of the three most famous traditional dance festivals of Japan, together with the Hanagasa Odori (Flower Hat Dance) of Yamagata and the Awa Odori of Tokushima. This festival, dating back some 400 years, is designated today as a significant intangible folk cultural asset* of Japan.

Reference: flickr

For 32 nights from mid-July to early September, the 10 types of dance are performed during a tour of the entire town over the summer, changing its stage from the castle town area to street corner squares, shrine precincts and other spots within the whole town. The climax of the festival is the famous Tetsuya Odori, which takes place for four days from August 13th to 16th, when people dance all night long from 8 o’clock in the evening to 4-5 o’clock the next morning.

This festival came to be described as “a dance to be danced,” rather than “a dance to be viewed.” It originally thrived in the Edo Period as a means of promoting harmonious ties between the rival classes of warriors, farmers, artisans and tradesmen. The concept of class was known then as shi-no-ko-sho. No special costume is needed to participate in the dance and even tourists in T-shirts are welcome to join in, while cotton summer yukata kimono are rented out for the dance at some ryokans and shops. But you should at least try and buy a pair of geta (wooden sandal-like clogs) at town shops specializing in footwear, for the clacking sound of the geta is indispensable for the rhythmic tempo of the dance.

*A significant intangible folk cultural asset refers to manners and customs related to food, clothing and shelter, vocation, faith, annual events, and folkloric performing arts, etc., which have been established by the people in daily life and passed down through generations, deemed especially valuable by the State.

Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture

About 15 minutes' walk from Gujo-Hachiman Station.Gujo-Hachiman Station is about three and a half hours from JR Nagoya Station on Nagaragawa Railways.

Mid-July - Early September

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