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The Water City: Gujo Hachiman
Gujo Hachiman, also known as the Water City,
is a city tucked away in the mountains of Gifu prefecture.
The crisp mountain water forms rivers that run through the middle of the city.
Here, this water is everything.
The entire drive up the mountain we saw fishermen catching ayu,
which are deliciously fried and salted and sold on sticks in the city.
Other than fishing, the city uses this water to drink, cook, clean, swim,
and even leap into as a rite of passage for young boys.
Koi fish are everywhere here, even in the gutters alongside the street.
Is this even a real place?
And after we just fed him!
I wasn't expecting that.
The largest river in the city is 12 meters, or 40 feet below street level.
The main bridge across this river is known as the jumping bridge,
and throughout the summer you can watch young boys and men leaping into the river below.
Because it's so dangerous, inexperienced visitors aren't allowed to jump
since they likely don't have the skill and knowledge necessary to avoid major injury.
A healthy young man has died here in the past,
and around the world people die every year leaping from this height into water,
so real talk, guys, if you ever visit, don't jump.
Even jumps at half that height can cause concussions and injuries. It's not for tourists.
However just up the river there are smaller rocks that are safer to leap from
if you're an experienced swimmer.
The city streets are very traditional and filled with shops full of hand-crafted items.
Although not exactly a traditional Japanese item, the most famous hand-crafted products
here are fake food samples, which you'll find displayed outside of restaurants all
across Japan.
You can even make them yourself if you want!
Do you want a drink? [Well water]
Is it okay?
Thank you!
It's good!
Everyone have some!
Jun, you haven't had any!
Yum.
Thank you!
These vegetables are unattended. You just put money in the can and take what you want.
The city also holds one of the largest and most famous Bon Odori festivals in Japan,
lasting the entire month of August,
with four days where the city dances straight through the night.
Gujo Hachiman is an absolutely beautiful city unlike anything I've seen before.
It was one of those rare experiences that really transported me somewhere new,
and made me feel like “This is Japan.”
It's my favorite place I've been so far, and it gets the elusive Rachel 10/10.
If you have the chance to visit in late summer, I can't recommend it enough.
Don't forget your swimsuit!
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The Water City | Gujo Hachiman 

459 Folder Collection
Sophie published on November 8, 2019
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