Japan’s Aichi prefecture sits between Mie and Shizuoka prefectures. To the north are Gifu and Nagano prefectures. Aichi’s capital is Nagoya, which is the 4th largest city in Japan. Aichi is also home to the Toyota Motor Corporation, which is located in the appropriately named city of Toyota. With so much happening in, and around Aichi, it is a major destination for tourists from abroad, as well as those travelling domestically. Below is a short list of some of the major destinations and sights to see while visiting Aichi.
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Nagoya Castle is one of the most important castles in Japan. It has a rich and deep history, and a legacy that continues to the present day. Oda Nobuhide seized Nagoya Castle in the 15th century and assumed power, overtaking Imagawa Ujitoy. Nobuhide is credited for renaming the castle Nagoya Castle, a name that has remained in place to this day.
Allegedly Nobuhide’s son, Oda Nobunaga, was born in Nagoya Castle. Tokugawa Ieyasu rebuilt the castle in the 16th century. This history, as well as the beautiful castle grounds, draws thousands of visitors each year. Nagoya Castle is, without a doubt, one of the most celebrated landmarks in Japan.
The Nagoya City Science Museum
Nagoya is also home to the City Science Museum, which contains one of the largest planetariums in the world. This museum also includes many hands-on exhibits and many exhibits that are children-friendly. With its unique dome-like structure, Nagoya City Science Museum is definitely a place that you don’t want to miss while visiting the area. It is especially a good indoor option on a rainy or overcast day.
Himakajima Island is located within the Mikawa-wan Quasi-National Park. Many tourists choose to visit this island to enjoy the wonderful seafood. The island is well-known for its octopus and blowfish, which are caught locally. Himakajima Island also offers beautiful beaches, relaxing onsen and nice spots for recreational fishing. It is a gorgeous beach getaway when looking for an activity outside of the city.
Tokoname Path of Chinaware
Tokoname has been called one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan. Pottery made in Tokoname is referred to as Tokonome-yaki, and it continues to be popular all across Japan today. Famous pottery from Tokonamae includes teapots and bottles, while roofing tiles and pipes remain quite popular.
The famous Dokan Zaka is a narrow path where one can see many earthenware and pottery that now line the walls. Tokonamae is also home to a tile museum and countless craft shops. Don’t forget to check out some of the quaint and unique cafes before leaving town.
Inuyama Castle is one of only 12 castles in Japan that has survived over the years without any reconstruction work. Even Nagoya Castle, mentioned earlier, has undergone reconstruction. Inuyama Castle sits between Aichi and Gifu prefectures and overlooks the Kiso River. The main keep of this castle has been designated as a national treasure. Only 5 other castles in Japan have been designated as national treasures, making Inuyama Castle truly special.
The Toyota Automobile Museum
Toyota Motors is the leading car manufacturer in Japan. The headquarters of Toyota is located near Nagoya. Because of the significant impact Toyota has had not only on the economy, but within the world of automobile manufacturing, it is no surprise that Toyota is so prevalent in this region.
There are 3 Toyota museums to choose from. The first option, the Toyota Kaikan Museum, allows visitors to see new models of Toyota automobiles. It also serves as the meeting point for the tour of a Toyota plant, if one is so inclined. The second option is the Toyota Techno Museum, where one can learn about the history of Toyota Motors and its production process. The third, and final choice, is the Toyota Automobile Museum which contains exhibits on many different automobiles throughout history. This exhibit includes Japanese, European and American vehicles on display.
LEGOLAND is an amusement park for all things related to LEGO building blocks. The park has 7 different zones that can be explored. It also features miniature landmarks of famous sites, such as Tokyo Station and Nagoya Castle. LEGOLAND was originally opened in 2017 and it is the second largest LEGOLAND theme park in all of Asia. It has remained incredibly popular since its inception and wait times can occasionally be very long.
Meiji Mura is an open-air architecture museum that is located in Inuyama. Once inside, one can observe preserved buildings from the Meiji, Taisho and early Showa periods. Meiji Mura contains more than 60 buildings that have been relocated from their original sites.
One of the most famous buildings is the main entrance and lobby from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel. The original hotel was demolished in 1967, after standing for over 40 years. Because many of these original architectural styles have not survived due to historical events, this is a wonderful opportunity to see many of them all in one place. It is best to visit on a beautiful, sunny day.
Satsuki & Mei’s House
The now infamous “My Neighbor Totoro” film, produced by Japan’s own Studio Ghibli, is loved by children all over the world. The main characters are two sisters named Satsuki and Mei. In an attempt to bring Hayao Miyazaki’s wonderful, dream world to life, you can visit a replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house.
Studio Ghibli has plans to unveil a Ghibli Park in Aichi by 2022, but in the meantime, fans have this lovely piece of nostalgia to tide them over. It was re-created for Expo 2005 and remains a popular destination within Expo Park to this day. There are eight 30-minute viewing times that are available for booking. Tickets can be purchased in advance and cost about ¥510 each.
Shirakawago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It is most famous for the gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. These buildings are unique because their roofs are shaped like a praying monk’s hands. It looks like a typical roof, but much steeper, and it goes all the way to the ground.
This architectural style helps these buildings to withstand the heavy snowfall that befall this region in the winter months. The most famous village within Shirakawago is Ogimachi. One can choose to stay the night in one of these buildings, or just explore the area and all of its beauty. While these villages can be visited year-round, the best time is during the winter months.
Conclusion – Places to visit in Aichi Prefecture
With so much to see and do, Aichi makes a wonderful trip. If you’re coming from overseas, this is a place where you can see the beauty and tradition of Japan, as well as some of the modern exports that Japan has become so famous for.
For those within Japan, Aichi is a great getaway. If you’re tired of the city, or just need a change of scenery, Aichi can provide a unique cultural experience. If you find yourself in Aichi prefecture, please do some exploring and try to experience some of these great sites. No matter how you spend your time in Aichi, it will be time well spent.
Trevor Jones is an American writer currently living and working in Tokyo, Japan. He enjoys writing about his experiences traveling and exploring new destinations. He is also passionate about music and film.