All About Japan

Enjoy Culture Along the Shoryudo Ukiyo-e Route

Food & Drink Sweets Tea Castles Art Ukiyo-e Islands Tour Shoryudo Nagoya Aichi Shizuoka Chubu Tokai Region

Day 2

Aichi Prefecture

Smack dab in the middle of Japan's largest island, there's a lot to love about Aichi Prefecture.

Takeshima

Takeshima

After crashing in the city of Gamagori, in the south part of Aichi Prefecture, we woke up to explore the incredible island of Take, or Takeshima (竹島). Takeshima is accessible via a bridge that stretches 387 meters (1,270 ft). From the Gamagori Classic Hotel, we could see the island and connecting bridge romantically lit up at night with a soft amber glow from the lampposts. After a nice little jaunt, you can explore the unique vegetation on the island that's significantly different from other parts of the city. In fact, the island is named for the bamboo that grows there, which is take in Japanese. The whole island takes about 30 minutes to explore, with the highlight being the Yaotomi Shrine in the center.

Okazaki Castle

Okazaki Castle

As we made our way to our next stop, Okazaki Castle (岡崎城), we were welcomed by four badass samurai warlords. These performers put on a spectacular show every day for visitors and they were all smiles when they greeted us at the front gate.

Okazaki Castle was originally built in 1542, which is notably the same year the great leader Tokugawa Ieyasu was born. While the castle changed hands over the years, it was eventually destroyed in 1872 as Nagoya Castle became the only castle allowed in the region, part of the "one castle per domain" rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The building we see today is a replica that was rebuilt in 1961 to promote tourism to the area, including a museum and the before mentioned samurai show.

They are waiting for you to visit!

Kakukyu Miso Factory

Kakukyu Miso Factory

Now that we've been entertained, it's time for food. A popular component in Aichi dishes is akamiso, or "red miso" paste. Sweeter than the usual light brown shiromiso ("white miso") commonly found across the nation, this delicacy is what makes foods like fried chicken wings and breaded pork cutlets extra special in Aichi. We got the chance to see how it was made straight at the oldest Hatcho miso factory in Japan.

Ice Cream Stop #3

Ice Cream Stop #3

As a big fan of akamiso, I was really excited to try this miso ice cream! The flavor cannot be described simply as there were so many layers to it. Sweet and creamy, with a slightly smoky caramel taste, this ice cream was incredibly refreshing on the hot summer day.

Tsushima

Tsushima

Our next stop is the city of Tsushima, the homeplace of Oda Nobunaga—one of the most notable warlords in Japanese history—where we were treated to an exciting festival at night. The Owari Tsushima Tenno Festival origins aren't clear but records of the event date back to 1459, making it, at the very least, over 500 years old. The festival, which was recognized by UNESCO in 2016 as a property of Intangible Cultural Heritage, occurs annually on the fourth Saturday of July. Although there are several events that happen during the festival, such as matchlock shooting demonstrations and dance performances, it all culminates in one of the coolest parades I'd ever seen in my life. And I'm from Louisiana—I've seen awesome parades!

Tenno River

Tenno River

Once night begins to fall, the procession kicks off with giant floats make their way down the Tenno River carrying 400 hundred lit paper lanterns. The sight of these floating wonders against the backdrop of fireworks makes it clear to see why this is one of the Three Great River Festivals of Japan. And getting to see the ship and the dazzling fireworks from the deck of a small passenger boat was surely the highlight of the entire trip.

This was certainly one of the highlights of the trip and I highly recommend you try to make it out there!