I didn’t know Gujo Hachiman.
I have to admit it. It’s not really on the radar of many foreign travelers.
After visiting this fascinating city, I really wonder why.
Now, I have to tell you, if you are planning on visiting Shirakawago and Takayama you might also want to spend a day in Gujo Hachiman.
Let me show you what you could do on a day trip to Gujo Hachiman.
Where is Gujo Hachiman
But first, let me quickly explain to you where exactly Gujo Hachiman is.
The city lies about 80 kilometers north of Nagoya, not far from Gero Onsen, a popular hot spring town.
It is much closer to Nagoya than Shirakawago and even Takayama, so if you are planning a day trip from Nagoya you spend less time getting to Gujo Hachiman, than the other two towns. Which leaves you with more time to explore the city.
How to Get to Gujo Hachiman
There are basically two directions people come from when they want to visit Gujo Hachiman. They either come from the south, meaning Nagoya or Gifu city, or farther north, probably from Takayama.
Here are the details.
How to Get to Gujo Hachiman from Nagoya
You have two options to get to Gujo Hachiman from Nagoya. You could rent a car and drive or take a bus.
The easiest option from Nagoya to Gujo Hachiman is by car. You can rent one in Nagoya and drive up the highway. You will arrive in 1 hour and 20 minutes and the toll will be around 2000 yen one way.
In Gujo Hachiman you would have to pay for parking in the city. There are different options but all relatively cheap. You either pay a rate of about 50 to 100 yen per 30 minutes or you pay a one time fee of 500 yen.
A car is also great to reach some sights outside of the city center such as the Otaki cave for which you will otherwise have to pay a taxi.
Check out the prices for a car rental from Nagoya on rentalcars.com.
The most convenient bus to Gujo Hachiman from Nagoya is the Gifu Bus leaving from Meitetsu Bus Center next to Nagoya Station at 9 a.m.
It arrives in Gujo Hachiman’s town center Jokamachi Plaza at around 10:40 and costs 2210 yen.
The return bus leaves at 4:41 p.m. from Jokamachi Plaza in the town center.
Other buses operated by Nohi Bus, Meitetsu Bus and JR Tokai Bus leave almost hourly from Nagoya Meitetsu Bus Center to Takayama. These buses stop at Gujo Hachiman Inter, a bus stop outside of the city. From there you would need to take a taxi or walk to the town center.
The one-way trip costs 2200 yen or 4000 yen round trip which is valid for up to 4 days.
Tour from Nagoya
There is a great value tour from Nagoya to Gujo Hachiman called ‘Gujo Hachiman Day Tour with Round Trip Express Bus from Nagoya‘.
It includes the bus from Nagoya and back as well as a guide who will enrich your experience by giving information on Gujo Hachiman.
The guided tour will visit Gujo Hachiman Castle, Gujo Hachiman town center, as well as the Gujo Hachiman Exhibition after which you will have free time to explore on your own.
It’s a great value deal, check it out on klook.com!
How to Get to Gujo Hachiman from Takayama
Your best options from Takayama are also a rented car or bus.
By car, you can reach Gujo Hachiman from Takayama in an hour and 20 minutes.
I am not sure about the cost for the toll road but I am assuming it would be similar to the cost from Nagoya because the distance is about the same (80 kilometers or 50 miles).
Buses operated by Kintetsu and Nohi Bus connect Gujo Hachiman and Takayama. The buses stop outside of Gujo Hachiman at the Highway bus stop from where you will probably need a Taxi to get into town.
How to Get to Gujo Hachiman from Gifu
Gifu is the capital city of Gifu prefecture. It is only a short distance from Gujo Hachiman.
You can reach Gujo Hachiman in under an hour by car.
There are regular Meitetsu buses leaving for Gujo Hachiman. These buses arrive at the town center. The bus ride takes an hour and 10 minutes.
Things to Do in Gujo Hachiman
For such a small town there is surprisingly much to do here. If you want to pack all activities into one day you need to get up early and best have a car because it will give you the most flexibility.
If you don’t have a car or it seems too stressful for you to do everything in one day you can either spend a night in Gujo Hachiman or pick the activities that interest you most.
Let me introduce to you the best things to do in Gujo Hachiman.
Make Food Samples at Sampuru Kobo
In front of at least every second restaurant in Japan is a showcase of the food that is being served. These food samples are so high quality that it wouldn’t be strange if you wanted to eat them. That’s how delicious and realistic they look.
What most people don’t know, is that many of these samples come from Gujo Hachiman where the food sample industry originates.
There are two different companies in town producing food samples. The one that is located in the town center and easily reachable on foot is Sampuru Kobo.
By the way, Sampuru means sample. Can you see what the Japanese did there? They used an English word and turned it Japanese. They do that a lot actually.
Food Sample Workshop at Sample Kobo
At Sampuru Kobo you can buy cool food sample souvenirs like key chains with fruit or Sushi dangling from the ring.
But what’s really cool about Kobo, is that they offer workshops where you can make your own food sample.
For around 1000 yen (10 US dollars) you can learn how to make Tempura made from plastic look delicious, you can create little tarts with fruit and cream or you can spill some ice cream and use it as a phone stand.
That’s what I chose to do. Because 1 it’s icecream and 2 it’s a useful souvenir.
I don’t know what I would do with a shrimp Tempura sample. Do you?
They have instructional videos in Japanese and English and the workshops are designed that even children can create beautiful samples.
It was a lot of fun to spill chemical ice cream and in my opinion, it was over way too soon. I could have spent all day making food samples.
Workshop Price: between 900 and 1500 yen (9 to 15 US dollars)
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: 956 Hachimancho Hashimotocho, Gujo, Gifu 501-4227
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps
Visit Hachiman Castle
The castle towers over the town perched on a high hill. It’s a beautiful castle with a nice view of the city.
Gujo Hachiman Castle is a great place for pictures.
Unfortunately, the inside of the castle was kind of boring, to be honest. I guess I just expected more because of how amazing Nagoya Castle is. Hachiman Castle is almost empty, with not much too look at on 3 floors.
The view from the top floor over the town is not bad though.
You can either walk or go by car up a winding street which is less than a kilometer away from the town center.
GUJO HACHIMAN CASTLE
Entry Fee: 310 yen (3 US dollars) or 650 yen (6.5 US dollars as a combi ticket with Gujo Hachiman Hakurankan Museum)
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Address: 659 Ichinohira, Hachimancho Yanagimachi, Gujo, Gifu 501-4214
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps
Explore the Otaki Cave
The Otaki Cave can be found in the mountains outside of Gujo Hachiman.
To reach the entrance of the cave you ride the short ropeway up a steep slope. It’s a really cute vehicle and included in the entrance fee.
On entry to the cave, you are hit by a wall of cold air. Welcome at first and then you really start to feel cold because of the dampness of the cave. I recommend you bring a jacket even on the hottest summer day.
The way through the cave is long and winding, leading past stalagmites and stalactites and other strange formations with bigger and smaller chambers. Sometimes you have to be careful not to hit your head and even crouch down to move forward. It’s a lot of fun to explore.
The highlight of the cave is a 30-meter tall waterfall. It is the tallest waterfall within a cave in Japan, which is kind of impressive.
Through the cave leads a one-way path which ends at a different point from where it started. To reach the bottom of the hill you cannot use the cable car, you have to walk down a very beautiful path in nature. It will only take 10 minutes.
Around the Otaki Cave, are different opportunities to fish for Ayu, a little freshwater fish. It is a very popular activity, especially for families.
You buy simple fishing rods (each costs 300 yen) and can fish until your fishing line breaks, which can happen quite quickly because of how thin it is.
If you manage to catch anything you can prepare the fish on the spot and grill it.
Sounds delicious to me. If only I had the time and skill.
Dance at the Bon Odori
Many travelers, Japanese and foreigners alike visit Gujo Hachiman to participate in the month-long Bon dancing, which Gujo Hachiman is famous for.
In summer from July till the beginning of September on 30 dance nights, you can dance the night away with traditional Japanese dances.
The dances are very simple and the steps repeat over and over, so you will get the hang of it very quickly.
At Gujo Hachiman’s Bon Odori the music is performed live using different traditional instruments and singers.
Dancing is at a different Shrine or other historically important places every night with a different local group organizing the events.
Dancing starts at 8 p.m. and usually ends before midnight. The highlight is the all-night dances in the week of Obon in the middle of August where you can dance till the morning if you have the stamina.
Participating in Bon dancing is even more fun if you wear a summer Kimono called a Yukata like everybody else. You can rent them in town if you want.
Learn about Gujo Hachiman at the Hakurankan Museum
If you want to learn more about the history of Gujo Hachiman and especially about the Bon Dancing you should visit the Gujo Hachiman Hakurankan Museum.
They also have exhibits about local craftsmanship and about the waterways in the city.
Here you can also learn the most popular two local Bon dances during workshops which are held throughout the day. These workshops are in Japanese and English and it isn’t difficult, so don’t hesitate to join in.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to visit this museum.
GUJO HACHIMAN HAKURANKAN MUSEUM
Entry Fee: 520 yen (5 US dollars) or 650 yen (6.5 US dollars as a combi ticket with Gujo Hachiman Castle)
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: 50 Hachimancho Tonomachi, Gujo, Gifu 501-4213
Website in English| Google Maps
Visit Shrines and Temples
In Gujo Hachiman are many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples that you will naturally stumble upon during your explorations of the city.
Sogi Sui Spring
Probably the most important Shrine is the Sogi Sui spring. This little shrine has not only historical significance but has also been recognized as one of 100 remarkable waters in Japan.
When you visit the little spring try the water. It’s delicious.
Other Shrines and Temples
As is typical in any town in Japan Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines can be found all over Guji Hachiman. The most important are Jion Ji Zen Temple with a beautiful landscape garden, the impressive Anyoji Temple and the local Hachiman Shrine.
Explore the Waterways in Gujo Hachiman
Water is a very important element in Gujo Hachiman. There are little streams everywhere and not only the Sugi Sui is of historical significance.
Igawa Ko Michi
Igawa Ko Michi is a 109-meter long community road with three Kawado, washing places on the small stream flowing along the road.
Since ancient times these Kawado have been used by the local community to was their vegetables and clothes here. A union is in charge of enforcing order, cleaning, and management of the Kawado.
In recent years the stream has been populated by beautiful Koi fish which you can feed with the food provided in little wooden boxes along the way.
Yanaka Ko Michi
The Yanaka Ko Michi is a short pedestrian-only street. It has been paved in beautiful patterns using river pebbles, and if you look closely you might find some pebbles with faces carved on them.
A little stream provides drinking water, and a great place for children to play.
Surrounding the Yanaka Ko Michi are three little museums you might want to visit. The Yudokan Paper Art Museum, Omodakaya Folk Craft Museum, and Saito Tea Ceremony and Art Museum.
Stroll along the River
If you have the time, maybe in the afternoon when all the attractions in Gujo Hachiman close, I recommend a stroll along the river. It’s a very scenic path along the shores of the river flowing through town.
The best views of the river can be enjoyed on either of the main bridges crossing the river.
During the day you will likely find many people fishing and children playing in the river.
You can find information on a self-guided river walk tour there.
What to eat in Gujo Hachiman
When Japanese travel, the most important thing about their trip is the delicious food they eat during the day.
I might be just a little bit Japanese in that way.
I just love exploring the local food, visiting delicious restaurants and trying snacks from stalls and shops along the way.
In Gujo Hachiman there are many opportunities to try something delicious.
Keep your eyes open!
For lunch, I had some delicious Soba noodles at Yamatoya. In summer the Zaru Soba or Oroshi Soba are refreshing and delicious. In winter you can order curry Udon or other hot Udon and Soba dishes.
Prices are very reasonable at around 800 yen (8 US dollars).
The atmosphere is very old fashioned Japanese, with half of the seats on tatami mat flooring with low tables and half normal chairs.
Hida Beef like Kobe Beef is a famous type of Wagyu, delicious Japanese beef from the region. It is offered on many menus in Gujo Hachiman.
If you are on a tight budget, or you want to try many different dishes in Gujo Hachiman, you can order some Hida Beef Sushi as a snack in between.
Two pieces of Sushi are served on a rice cracker and cost 800 yen (8 US dollars). The shop is very popular with long lines in front of it. Every piece of Sushi is made to order, that’s why it takes a little while for you to get your food. Be patient.
By the way, they have a menu written in English with pictures as well making it very easy to order exactly what you want.
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. closed Tuesdays
Address: 175 Hachimancho Tonomachi, Gujo, Gifu 501-4213
Another regional specialty is Ayu, a small freshwater fish. If you want to you can fish Ayu yourself at any of the fishing places outside of town, as I mentioned above.
If you don’t want to catch your food yourself you can still try some Ayu in Gujo Hachiman. Either freshly grilled at one of the stalls selling it as a snack or in nicer restaurants.
I really wanted to try some Ayu for dinner, but the Ayu set meal with 3 kinds of Ayu cost 3600 yen (36 US dollars) and that was a little bit too much for me.
Throughout the town, there are multiple opportunities to have some sweets while exploring. I had some delicious soft-serve Matcha ice cream as well as Dango.
If you are looking for something non-Japanese you can order gelato at Heiho Gelato.
I really wanted to try the delicious looking parfaits at Sogian just behind the Sogi Spring, but unfortunately, it was already closed by the time I finally made it to that part of town.
Map of Gujo Hachiman
For your orientation, I have put all the activities and locations on the map below. If you are old-school you can get a map of the city with all attractions in Gujo Hachiman at the tourist information center in town.
I marked all places of interest in Gujo Hachiman by saving them to my Google Maps.
Final Thoughts on Gujo Hachiman
Gujo Hachiman is a beautiful little town to explore on a day trip from Nagoya. It has a very special atmosphere especially in the summer months during the Bon Odori festival.
If you want to find out more about Nagoya, I suggest you first read the Nagoya Travel Guide.
If you are a foodie like me check the Nagoya Food Guide which lists the best foods to try in Nagoya as well as the best restaurants to try them at.
Pin this post to your ‘Japan Travel’ Pinterest board so you can reread it before or during your visit to Gujo Hachiman.
And if you know someone who is planning a trip to Japan right now share it with them and make their day!
In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.