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The Edo Period that started 400 years ago brought stability and prosperity to Japan. That’s why Japanese culture flourished during this period and craftsmanship blossomed around Nagoya, one of the economic centers of the country.
During this tour, you will explore the culture and craftsmanship during the height of the Samurai warrior rule by exploring the city of water and the traditional dance in Gujo Hachiman. You will learn about swords play, castle architecture, and tea culture at Inuyama’s castle town. And further dive into Samurai history in Nagoya.
This is a 3-day guided tour but it can be customized into shorter day trips or maybe a longer tour connecting other destinations on your travel list.
upon request (reservation from 2-6 people)
09:00 (3 full days)
English, Spanish, German, Japanese
English: Fluent ★★★★
German: Native ★★★★★
Spanish: Native ★★★★★
Japanese: Fluent ★★★★
You will be spending 3 days exploring a less-traveled side of Japan.
Together with your knowledgeable guide, you will spend one day exploring Gujo Hachiman, the home of one of Japan’s foremost traditional summer Bon dances and everything connected with it from the traditional craftsmanship used to make the typical wooden shoes called Geta, to the hand towel the dancers use to whip their faces after a particularly hot night of dancing called Tenugui. You will also learn some dance moves!
The second day is all about exploring a real castle town and feeling like a Samurai and understanding their life. Start the day by learning how to fight with a Samurai sword, explore the architecture of an original Samurai castle, and explore the cultural side of life as a Samurai in one of Japan’s best tea houses surrounded by a tranquil garden.
Day 3 in Nagoya, Samurai central, explores the history of the Samurai by visiting the Edo Periods’ most impressive stronghold, Nagoya Castle, and an art museum that explores all facets of life as a Samurai during that time.
Meeting in Nagoya and train+bus to Gujo Hachiman
Meet your guide at Nagoya station and travel for about 2 hours north via train and bus to Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture.
Try the local Soba noodles chilled in summer or hot in winter as a light meal to start the day.
At the local museum you can learn about Gujo’s city history as well as about the town’s proudest feature, the famous Bon Dances held on 30 nights each summer. Get dancing and learn the popular dance moves.
Explore Gujo Hachiman
The narrow streets of Gujo Hachiman are very picturesque with shops lining the streets selling street food and souvenirs. The many waterways are one highlight of the town.
Tenugui towel printing experience
Tenugui towels are used by every dancer during the summer Bon dances, as fashion accessories and to whip sweat.
Design and print your own towel during this workshop for a unique souvenir of Gujo Hachiman.
Did you know that Gujo is the birthplace of silk screen printing or serigraphy in Japan?
Buy Geta wooden sandals while roaming around town
There is still more to discover in Gujo and as the day winds down you can explore more of the streams and little scenic side streets where you will find a wide variety of shops, some of which sell Geta, the cypress wood sandals used for dancing. A pair of these sandals will make for a great souvenir.
Bus and train to Inuyama
It’s time to say goodbye to Gujo. Take the bus back to Nagoya, followed by a 30-minute train ride to Inuyama.
Accommodation: Hotel Indigo Inuyama Urakuen Garden (Recommendation)
For an unforgettable stay in Inuyama we recommend a night at Hotel Indigo Inuyama Urakuen Garden. This boutique hotel opened only recently in 2021 and it is the perfect place to relax and start exploring the neighborhood that is Inuyama.
Learn Iaido sword fighting techniques
It’s time to learn how to fight like a Samurai with a real Katana sword. The first step on your journey is to learn the basics of Iaido, the defensive sword fighting technique exercised exclusively against phantom opponents.
Food tour of Inuyama
After this much exercise in the morning you will be hungry for sure. That’s where Inuyama’s excellent street food comes in. There are local specialties next to national favorites, and instagrammable sweets, next to savory goodies.
Explore the diverse Japanese street food culture on a food tour of the scenic Inuyama castle town.
Visit Inuyama Castle
The main highlight of the town is Inuyama Castle, the smallest of the original remaining Japanese castles. Enjoy the charming exterior and interior and sweeping views of the surroundings including the Kiso River.
The cultural Samurai were not only interested in sword fighting but also in the pursuit of art. Visit Urakuen Garden and the tea house Jo-an named one of the best in the country to enjoy a cup of Matcha green tea in a tranquil setting.
Train to Nagoya
Take the train to Nagoya where the final part of your adventure awaits.
Accommodation: Nikko Style Nagoya (Recommendation)
Spend the night at Nikko Style Nagoya, modern comfort after 2 days exploring the wilder side of Japan. A comfortable bed, great coffee, and an excellent western and Japanese breakfast buffet await.
For the ruling Tokugawa Samurai clan, the impressive Nagoya Castle was their pride and joy. With defense mechanisms to deter enemies and luxury to enjoy peace and prosperity, the Edo Period brought to the country.
Explore the castle grounds, walls, moats, towers, and most of all the recently reconstructed Honmaru palace.
The newly opened restaurant Hosa just outside the castle serves Kishimen noodles in a stylish modern building. It’s the perfect place to relax after exploring the castle grounds.
Folding paper fan-making experience
Folding paper fans are versatile and used in Japan not only to cool the body but also during weddings, tea ceremonies, and other occasions. During this experience, you assemble a folding fan out of Washi paper and wood.
Samurai culture at the Tokugawa Art Museum
To learn even more about the local Samurai culture the Tokugawa Art Museum is the last stop. It holds the treasures of the ruling Owari Tokugawa clan including tea ceremony utensils, Noh theater masks, scrolls depicting the Tales of Genji, and much more.
In the late afternoon your tour will end. You can spend more time exploring the nearby Tokugawa Garden, or head to your next adventure.
We are the co-founders of Nagoya is not boring. We look forward to guiding you around our second home Nagoya and its off-beat surroundings.
Lena is from Germany and she especially loves exploring food and food culture in Japan. Her favorite food is Hitsumabushi, Nagoya’s version of grilled eel on rice.
Elly, from the resort island of Mallorca in Spain, loves all things Japanese culture and history like Kimono, traditional dance called Nihon Buyo, and Sake.