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Festivals of Japan: Gujo Bon-Odori

Gujo Bon-Odori is a unique traditional dance festival in the heart of Japan that is always a highlight of the Japanese summer.

By 2 min read

Gujo Bon-Odori is a traditional Japanese dance festival held in the picturesque riverside town of Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture. The festival is held on select nights from July 11 to September 5 as part of the Obon period in Japan.

Bon or Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the spirits of ancestors and traditionally includes a special dance called ‘Bon-Odori’.

Gujo Bon-Odori is one of the three most famous Bon dances in Japan and first started in the 1590s when the local lord had an idea to bring all the people of his land together to dance regardless of social rank or position. He wanted everyone to dance together and have fun in one large massive street party. The festival is now over 400 years old and still brings people together from all walks of life from all over Japan. Locals dance in the street with visitors and everyone is welcome to join in the festivities.

Festival Highlights

Gujo Bon Odori gives you the chance to join in the fun of a Japanese summer festival and participate in a unique traditional custom that is the heart and soul of this quaint little town.
The highlight of the festival is the all-night dancing which takes place from dusk until dawn from August 13th through to August 16th. The energy is at fever pitch as the townsfolk dance in an all-night frenzy of high octave dancing. It is one experience in Japan that you will never forget.

The dance is quite easy to learn and the best way to learn it is simply follow along with the locals. Dance lessons are also available before the dancing starts in the evenings if you want a little bit of extra help.

Gujo Bon-Odori is a unique traditional dance festival in the heart of Japan that is always a highlight of the Japanese summer. Grab your yukata and geta and come on over to join the party.

Access:

Location: Gujo Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture
When: July 11 to September 5
Time: Times vary according to the day but typically will be between 7:30 to 11:00 pm
Cost: FREE

From Nagoya take a JR limited express train to JR Gifu Station (the journey takes about 20 minutes). From Gifu take the JR Takayama Line to Mino-Ota (about 40 minutes). You will need to change to the Nagaragawa Railway at Mino-Ota to reach Gujo Hachiman (about 80 minutes). The total journey from Nagoya takes around 150 minutes and costs 2,490 yen.
For a cheaper option, try a highway bus from the Meitetsu Bus Center near JR Nagoya Station to Gujo. The 80 minute trip costs 2060 yen one way.

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