Gujo Odori Festival 2019 – Don’t Just Look Dance with Locals in Gifu



Gujo Odori (郡上踊り) festival is the longest Bon odori festival in Gifu prefecture which began in the Edo period and is lasting for over 400 years. This festival is one of the three most important traditional Bon dance festivals in Japan. Other two are Tokushima Awa Odori in  Tokushima prefecture and Nakashi Odori during Kuroishi Yosare festival in Aomori prefecture. Originally, the concept of this event implies that any person can join the dance. Everybody can dance regardless of their social status. So, according to its historical background, this festival is not only for the residents but also for tourists from foreign countries and other prefectures in Japan.

The image courtesy of  tsuda

Can You Dance 33 Days in a Row?

This festival lasts not only over a day or a weekend like most of the Japanese festivals. It starts from 8:00 am and finishes at 10:30 pm for the first 29 days. And for the last 4 days, people dance all night until 4:00 am. Do you think that people really do not dance until morning? No, when it becomes late, the number of people even increases!

The Bon odori possesses an image of an event for the elderly, but you will notice many young people taking part in this dance festival. Many of the participants think that Gujo Odori is such an attractive event that they return at the time of festival even they live in different areas. Even people do not know each other, but when the festival starts, hundreds of people dance altogether. The image courtesy of JialiangGao

Enjoy Festival Music!

There are 10 types of music including standard, up-tempo, more chilling, and so on. The major characteristic of this festival is that there is a variety of dance music types compared to other Bon odori festivals. The most common music is called ‘Kawasaki’ which is a typical style of Bon odori music, and ‘Haru Koma’ is up-tempo. One more music style is ‘Matsusaka’ which you can hear only one time a day, so do not miss it! Both the rhythm and the choreographies are different, which is the reason why people can dance all night. You will be overwhelmed with the feeling of unity at this festival for sure. Anyone will enjoy dancing even if you do not know how to dance. However, I suggest you check the moves in advance as it will be more fun!

Enjoy the Festival Even More!

Also, if you have time you can take lessons before the festival. There are a lot of lessons in many different places, but I recommend you make a reservation in advance before you come.

At the festival, you can wear any clothes like jeans or T-shirts, but you will feel Japanese culture even more if you wear yukata and dance in it. In Japan, we have special wooden shoes for yukata called ‘geta’. It can make a really nice sound, but you may get tired of wearing it. If so, there is a river in Gujo. When you feel tired, please put your feet into the river and you will feel better for sure!

Around 10 pm, there is a dance audition each night. The tourists are given a theme to dance and the best dancer gets a certificate of Gujo Odori dancer. It is a very honorable thing and you cannot buy it, so everyone tries hard to get it!

The image courtesy of  丸山徹

Details and Access

Dates: July 13th – September 7th, 2019. Usually takes place from mid-July until the first weekend in September every year.

Places: Locations for each day change, the dancing takes place near certain temples and shrines please check it on the official website.

Official Website:


A bus or a car is convenient to come from Nagoya. The location may change every day and it is better to check the daily schedule at the official website.

All the venues are close to Gujo-Hachiman station on Nagaragawa Tetsudo line. Note that the trains on this line do not run often, so plan your trip in advance.

Closing Remarks

If you come to Gifu in the summer, visit Gujo and join this festival for all night dancing, eating, drinking and making friends. Taking part in such an occasion will definitely show you the hospitality that residents are eager to share and broaden your mind in terms of traditional Japanese culture.

If you would like to experience this festival with a local guide and explore Gifu prefecture together, please check the link below!

Do You Like Dances?

How about watching or even taking part in Japanese dance festivals. The festivals are very different, and you can see either traditional dances and hear the music that had not changed with time, or visit more contemporary dance events.  Anyway, what`s a festival without dancing? There are so many dance festivals in Japan that sometimes it is hard to choose one. Following article collected Best Dancing Festivals in Japan. Please have a look and pick your favorite!

Did You Know That There is a Festival Every Day Somewhere in Japan?

Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!


Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel themselves a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!


Don`t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

For all foodies who enjoy Japanese Festivals would be nice to get acquainted with the rich choice offered by Yatai (Japanese festival food stalls). The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!



Hi,I'm Erika from Sapporo, Hokkaido. I love to communicate with foreign guests. Please come to see great nature in Hokkaido!

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