“Wa (Circle)” = “Wa (Japanese tradition)”
Protecting the treasure of Gujo and
Japan while inheriting this entertaining dance
Gujo Odori Preservation Society Chairman Mr Masamitsu Fujita
The members of the Gujo Odori Preservation Society support the Gujo Odori for two months. For about 30 nights, people dance on the stage and sing lively with music made by drums, Shamisen, and flute. People join the circle and lead the beautiful dance. Chairman Mr Masamitsu Fujita has been involved in the preservation society since his father’s generation. He listened to Gujo Odori’s Hayashi before he was born and learnt the tone and dancing before walking. He is a really born and raised in Gujo.
“This preservation society was established in 1922. It was started with only 5 to 6 local volunteers but there are currently about 60 members of the preservation society. Gujo, which has been passed down from generation to generation. Each person has the responsibility to protect Gujo Odori, which can be said to be the soul of Gujo and need to pass on to future generations. Each children learn how to dance and play Hayashi at elementary schools and junior clubs. Like Gujo Odori, everyone can enter the Wa (Circle) = Wa (Japanese tradition). I want to cherish the harmony and convey it to the future with this spirit. It is the meaning of this preservation society. In the past, local Geisha played Hayashi, but the number of Geisha is gradually decreasing. I felt a sense of crisis and learnt how to play Shamisen and sing folk song from professional in order to pass it on to the next generation.”
“Many people come to Gujo Odori Dance Festival every year. If the music is out of beat, it will make you sick. Of course, it can only be a trigger to the peak. All members are practicing so hard not only before Gujo Odori season, but also 5 to 6 times a month. The whole team is trying to improve their skills and keep dancing for a long time. Even it is your first time participate in Gujo Odori, you will be able to dance by moving your body. Please enjoy and join us. The most important thing is to smile, have fun and dance.”
Leaflet of Gujo Odori Dance Festival
Available at souvenir corner of
Former Hachiman Government Building
Singing with my soul for
dancers to enjoy dancing
Gujo Odori Preservation Society, singer Mr Naohiro Goto
Mr Goto can sing all 10 songs of Gujo Odori Dance, which is said to be difficult to sing perfectly.
“The reason that I joined this preservation society was because I was invited by a senior musician 57 years ago. I wasn’t learning folk songs at first. I imitate after I see other people sing it. The more I tried to sing it, I found it more interesting. I started learning personally and learnt folk songs from Tohoku and Hokkaido. I studied how to make vocalizations, tremolos and falsetto too.”
“Many people from other prefectures come to Gujo Odori Dance Festival every year. Their ears are so discerning that they can’t be satisfied with imperfect Hayashi music. I try my best to sing with motions. There is a moment when the clapping and sound of clogs match with and the dancers creating a sense of unity with thousands of people on the stage. My favorite song is “Matsusaka”. I sing it when the sky is getting brighter, it is only one climax of the overnight dance. It is a must-sing during the overnight dance. The song is the only song that you can your own lyrics while singing. I sometimes add “You come and dance today. Please come again. Let’s dance together again.” I add my feelings every time and sing with my soul. Some people cry, and some come just to hear me sing Matsusaka. You can’t sing with a sloppy feeling. I would like to continue making efforts to master it so that more people can enjoy it.”
Mr Goto also wants local children to know the fun of Gujo Odori Dance. He desires to become a person who inherits skills and spirits of Gujo Odori Dance. He is trying to teach Gujo songs personally. In addition, he is also active in forming a Hayashi club to teach adults as part of lifelong learning.
“I am really grateful that everyone in other prefectures is looking forward to participating in Gujo Odori Dance Festival every year. Also, I love to see that the locals can remember the importance of their hometown and be confident with a Gujo soul. I want all of you to participate happily.”