Located in Gifu Prefecture in Central Japan, Gujo is a mainly agricultural small mountain village.
It is famous for its uncontaminated streams that still works like in the 17th century.
The canals, streams and fountains are still used at present for washing rice, vegetables
and separated canals for laundry washing. The entire community cooperates for the maintenance
of the channels and fresh water streams. As a result the drinking natural water in Gujo is a
source of local pride. Every year for the entire month of August this quite and peaceful
village become an impressive tourist attraction for its ODORI dances festival involving
thousands of people from all over Japan.
The dance festival origin have been traced back to the Kanei Era (1624-1644) when it is
believed to have originated as an exercise for social cohesion in a society based on rigid
division (samurai,farming peasants, artisans and merchants).
While the Japanese society is different now, the spirit of the Festival is still the same.
The Festival reachs the peak in the middle of August when the dances lasts 24H,
continuously for 4 days. A stage is built and musicians placed on: a soloist, a shamisen
(3 string instrument), a taiku (drums) and a shakuachi (and-blown flute). The stage is parked
every night in front of different shrine. The inhabitants, strictly dressed in traditional Kimono,
dance around the stage. Farmers and traders leaves the daily activities and they dance all over
the night together with all the tourist coming from everywhere. Samoto Sagashi, is a guy in this
story, he has left the village for the capital Tokio for study and work but he back in Gujo to
work in the family farm and he became the recipient of those traditions perpetuated by the old
farmers.Samoto work 10-12 hours per day but never miss one single night of dance.