AICHI/NAGOYA (ATT.JAPAN ISSUE 58)
Aichi Prefecture is one of the leading areas for manufacturing worldwide and has a long history of technological development in the manufacturing industry. Toyota and Sony are both based in this area. Nagoya City in Aichi, is one of the three biggest cities in Japan and the center of the Tokai region, has continued to prosper in terms of business, economy and culture. This area was the home of three famous warlords-Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu-who led the unification of Japan in the 16th century.
Nagoya City was the domain of one of the three top families of the Tokugawa clan in the Edo period (1603-1687) and has since been developed mainly in the industrial field because of its economic strengths. The city originated from the development by Tokugawa Ieyasu with the construction of a castle and the surrounding town about 400 years ago. Nagoya is strategically located between Edo (now Tokyo) and the Kyoto-Osaka area and has long been a key junction between these areas. Blessed with the fertile land of the Nobi Plain, an abundance of seafood from the Ise Bay, and high quality lumber from the upstream land of the Kiso River, the city has had the potential to develop since its beginnings. Honmaru Palace of Nagoya Castle, constructed by the deep-pocketed Tokugawa family, is said to be the best modern castle palace in Japan. It is currently being restored. Many craftsmen gathered in the town to compete for the opportunity to show off their skills; for example, Japanese clockwork techniques were used in the production of karakuri dolls (wind-up dolls). The manufacturing techniques and their spirit of excellence have carried over into the modern industry.
Nagoya-jo (Nagoya ladies) are the stereotypical young ladies of Nagoya seen shopping with their mothers wearing luxury brand outfits. Their fashion sense is known to be gorgeous but conservative. Nagoya is also famous for its underground malls. Sun Road, which opened in 1957, connects with Nagoya Station. It was the first full-fledged underground mall opened in Japan after WWII. There are also large underground malls in the Sakae and Kamimaezu station areas.
New Showplaces in Nagoya
From 2010 to 2011, two new spots were built in Nagoya.
Nagoya City Science Museum planetarium, with its inner diameter of 35 meters, is the largest in the world. The live show by the curators is quite popular and always has a line of people waiting to get in. Don’t miss the “Deep Freezing Lab” where you can observe an aurora at -30 °C, the “Electric Discharge Lab” with recreations of lightning bolts flashing in the air, and the “Tornado Lab” with its 8.5-meter high artificial twister. This place really makes learning science fun!
SCMAGLEV and Railway Park shows the development of high-speed railway technology with 39 real trains including the Superconducting Maglev and Shinkansen bullet trains. The dioramas reproducing the landscapes along the Tokaido Shinkansen are spectacular. Driving Simulator attractions are very popular for both children and adults. (Note: Drivers are chosen by lot and there is a charge.) Audio guide service in foreign languages is available.
Around Nagoya Station
One of the two biggest commercial areas in Nagoya is Nagoya Station, the gateway to Nagoya. The station area includes Midland Square, located in front of the station, with many luxury brand shops from around the world, and super high-rise buildings, such as JR Central Towers above the JR Nagoya Station.
Noritake Garden, a recreational area in the old Noritake factory, can be reached by subway from Nagoya Station, but it may be more convenient for tourists to take the Meguru bus, a Nagoya sightseeing route bus. The Meguru bus goes around the main tourist spots in Nagoya City, and a “1-day ticket” allows unlimited rides on the bus for one day. At the Craft Center in Noritake Garden, visitors can observe the manufacturing process of bone china by westernstyle ceramic maker Noritake. Early products, so-called “Old Noritake,” and 200 dinner plates produced since its establishment in 1904 to the present are exhibited at the museum. There are also shops and restaurants.
The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology is adjacent and offers exhibitions and demonstrations of changes in Toyota’s textile machinery and automobile technologies.
Nagoya Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu as the residence of the Owari Tokugawa family is part of the legacy of the superpower of the Tokugawa shogunate. The castle tower with its pair of golden dolphin statues on the roof was reconstructed in 1959. The Meguru bus stops at the castle. Take the bus to the Tokugawa Art Museum. The museum houses more than 10,000 pieces of highquality daimyo (lords) goods handed down in the Owari Tokugawa family, as well as national treasures, such as the scroll illustrating the Tale of Genji, fine blades and samurai swords. The Doll Festival of the Owari Tokugawa Family is a special exhibition held annually in March. Tokugawaen is a beautiful daimyo garden of the Edo period. Visitors can enjoy eating or sipping tea in the beautiful garden.
Fushimi, one station from Nagoya Subway Station, is home to the Nagoya City Science Museum. The station after Fushimi is Sakae, another thriving area of Nagoya City. Shopping and gourmet food in abundant in the department stores and underground malls. Oasis 21 is a multi-story complex with a huge futuristic glass roof “floating” above. Nagoya TV Tower, Japan’s first radio tower built in 1954, is 180 meters high and has a great view of the entire town. The Osu area prospered as a temple town for Osu Kannon (a Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect) and still has an old town atmosphere. The unique atmosphere of the town, created by its mixture of old temples and traditional buildings with new, wide range of shops including stores selling the latest electronics, variety goods, and recycled clothing attracts foreigners as well as locals young and old.
On the Meijo Subway Line from Sakae Station, get off at Jingunishi Station to visit Atsuta Jingu Shrine. The shrine has a long and distinguished history and on the grounds are a 1,000-year old camphor tree forest and a “national treasure” treasure house. This is the second biggest shrine (after Ise Jingu Shrine) and enshrines the Kusanagi-no-mitsurugi (Kusanagi’s sacred sword), one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. There are traditional Japanese-style confectionaries and restaurants in this area, as well as the birthplace of Minamotono Yoritomo, who started the Kamakura shogunate in the 12th century. On the Meiko Line of the Meijo Subway Line get off at Nagoyako Station to visit the Nagoya Public Aquarium for a demonstration of killer whale training and performances by dolphins as well as seeing creatures in various aquatic environments. The SCMAGLEV and Railway Park at Kinjofuto Station can be reached from JR Nagoya Station on the Aonami Line.
A 25-minute ride from Nagoya Station on a limited express train on the Meitetsu Inuyama Line brings you to Inuyama Station. Inuyama Castle, built in 1537, is on the hill overlooking the Kiso River. Inuyama is one of the four national treasure castles along with Matsumoto (Nagano Prefecture), Hikone (Shiga Prefecture), and Himeji (Hyogo Prefecture) Castles. The tower of Inuyama Castle is the oldest in Japan. Walking around the old castle town is like going back in time. In summer, ukai (traditional cormorant fishing) can be seen in the Kiso River. The Museum Meiji-mura is an outdoor museum of buildings mainly built during the Meiji period (1868-1912) that have been moved to this site for preservation. The buildings include the house where, at different times, lived authors Mori Ogai and Natsume Soseki, the main entrance hall and lobby of Imperial Hotel designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and more of historical interest.
The Chita Peninsula is a place blessed with a beautiful sea and an abundance of seafood. Central Japan International Airport, Centair, is located on an artificial island in Ise Bay. It takes only 28 minutes from Meitetsu Nagoya Station on the airport limited express μSKY. The terminal building has 100 famous shops as well as the European-style “Renga-dori” (Brick Street) and the shopping mall “Chochin-yokocho” (Lantern Alley) with the feel of old Japan. Uniqlo, MUJI to GO and other fine shops, popular Nagoya restaurants, such as Misokatsu Yabaton and Sekai no Yamachan, are also there. A bath house on the 4th floor offers a great view of the planes taking off and landing. A variety of concerts and events are held at the Event Plaza.
Tokoname is one of the six sites where ceramic ware production began in ancient Japan, over 1000 years ago. Stroll along the Yakimono Sanpomichi (Pottery Walking Path) and see the many chimneys, ceramic factories, pottery wall pipes, and the famous climbing kilns. Tokoname produces the most “Manekineko,” ceramic “welcoming” cats, in Japan. The gigantic manekineko “Tokonyan” watches over Tokoname-Manekineko-dori Street and 39 ceramic cats adorn the fence along the street. At the INAX Museums, you can experience hands-on “manufacturing” of pottery at five facilities, one with an extensive library/a square with kilns, and an exhibit of tiles in the world. There is a cafe in which to relax and sip some tea on the premises. Morita Aji no Yakata is an Edo-period brewery. Tasting sake, miso and soy sauce and purchasing the goods are available. Tokonameyaki Matsuri is a fair held in late August where Tokoname ware is sold. And, if you are interested in boat racing, why not drop by Boat Race Tokoname?
Handa has been a town for the brewing industry since the Edo period. The Mizkan Group’s Museum of Vinegar “Su no Sato”TM is Japan’s only general museum for vinegar and the best place to learn the. history and manufacturing process of vinegar. Admission is free but reservations are required. Around the museum, the brewery storehouses and the moat create a unique atmosphere. The old beer factor, “Handa Aka-renga Tatemono” (Handa Red Brick Building), still stands in the city. Niimi Nankichi Kinenkan is a museum honoring Niimi Nankichi, an author from Handa who wrote the fairy tale “Gongitsune,” has six dioramas of his works. The Handa Dashi Matsuri is held every five years on the first Saturday and Sunday in October and 31 gorgeous floats are on display in the city.
To get to Minami Chita from Nagoya Station, take the Meitetsu Chita New Line to Utsumi Station or the Meitetsu Kowa Line to Kowa Station. Minami Chita Onsengo (hot springs resort) is a perfect place to enjoy the sunset over Ise Bay while dining on fresh local seafood. Shino-jima Island has beautiful coastal scenery and delightful fugu (blowfish) dishes. Himaka-jima Island is famous for octopus and fugu dishes, and visitors can enjoy bathing and fishing in the sea.
A 35-minute ride on the JR Tokaido Line from Nagoya Station leads to Gamagori, a town facing Mikawa Bay famous for four hot springs resorts-Miya, Gamagori, Katahara, and Nishiura. Laguna Gamagori is a marine resort complex with a theme park, a shopping mall, restaurants, hot springs, and a thalassotherapy facility. Take-shima Island, a small island with a circumference of only 620 meters, has a confirmed 238 species of indigenous higher plants in some 65 families and is home to Takeshima Aquarium. The island itself has been designated a national natural treasure. Gamagori Orange Park is a citrus fruit park surrounded by mountains. At Boat Race Gamagori, races are held in the evening throughout the year. The largest fireworks (up to a diameter of 650 meters!) on the Pacific Ocean in Japan are launched here in summer at the fireworks festival. Gamagori is the only place where three such big fireworks are launched in one night.
Okazaki is the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, and a historic inn town along the famous Tokaido Road. Okazaki Park includes the tower of Okazaki Castle and is dotted with historic sites related to Ieyasu. The cherry blossoms and Japanese wisteria along the Oto River are beautiful in spring. Drawing the most attention these days is the “Great Iyeasu Kou Aoi Bushoutai” warlords in their armor strutting around the park to entertain tourists. Posing with them is a great photo opportunity and watch them perform twice a day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. http://aoibushoutai.com
Daiju-ji Temple is well-known as a family temple of the Tokugawa family. It has mausoleums for eight generations of Iyeyasu ancestors and enshrines life-size tablets of the shoguns from Ieyasu to the 14th and last Tokugawa shogun. Okazaki Castle can be seen from San-mon gate of the temple. Haccho Village is about 870 meters (haccho in Japanese) away from Okazaki Castle. Miso made in the village is called haccho miso. Two of the original makers are still there and produce the miso in a traditional way. The narrow streets lined with miso storehouses create an old-time atmosphere. At Haccho Miso no Sato, a facility of miso producer Kakukyu, the process of making miso can be observed (in Japanese only). Dishes using haccho miso, such as miso dengaku, miso katsu, and miso nikomi udon, are a must-eat in Okazaki.
Nagoya has a unique food culture that includes, among many, ogura toast, toast topped with anko (sweet red bean paste), and tenmusu, a bite-sized rice ball of flavorful rice combined with shrimp tempura. Another local dish is kishimen, broad udon noodles served in a soy-based soup topped with deep-fried tofu, green vegetables, dried bonito shavings, and other taste treats. Other unique dishes such as misonikomi udon, super spicy Taiwan ramen (Chinese-style wheat noodles), curry udon, and ankake spaghetti (spaghetti topped with a spicy vegetable-laden sauce) are also very tasty!
Chicken tebasaki karaage (deep-fried chicken wings) is spicy and tangy and goes really well with beer. Nagoya kochin is one of the three most tasty and well-known Japanese breeds of chicken and there are various delicious dishes using Nagoya kochin. Hitsumabushi is a rice dish topped with finely-chopped unagi kabayaki (grilled eel in a sweet soy-based sauce). There is a specific order of eating this dish for maximum enjoyment: first, eat a few bites just as served; second, add finely-chopped green onion, seaweed, wasabi, or other topping and mix them in with the rice and have a few more bites; and lastly, pour tea or broth and eat in ochazuke-style (cooked rice with tea, broth, or hot water poured over, like milk over cereal). Akamiso (red soybean paste) is another delicious Nagoya specialty, miso made with soy beans fermented and matured for a longer period of time than for miso made from rice or barley. This extra-long fermentation period for this miso is made possible by the abundance of agricultural products and seafood since ancient times so people need not be in a hurry for this miso. Miso katsu (pork cutlet served with an akamiso-based sauce) is really very tasty. Many cafes in Nagoya offer a “morning set” with free toast or other item if you order a coffee or tea drink.
The Chita Peninsula is well-known for its fresh local seafood, such as octopus and fugu and the Atsumi Peninsula for fresh fruit, such as strawberries and melons sweetened by the mild, sunny weather.
Uiro, a steamed cake made of rice flour and sugar with a unique mochi-like (chewy and sticky) texture is a standard souvenir from Aichi. Ebi senbei, rice crackers made with fresh shrimp caught on the day is also popular.
The World Cosplay Summit is an annual summer festival held in Osu and the surrounded areas. The Nagoya Festival in October includes a parade of the three warriors from the area-Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.