The Aichi Prefecture in Japan’s Chubu Region is known as a major center of Japan’s automotive industry.
However you won’t just find a plethora of cars here – as the midway point along the old Tokaido route that linked Tokyo with Kyoto, the prefecture offers plenty of opportunities to dip into culture and heritage.
The region counts hundreds of castles within its borders and is the birthplace of countless samurai heroes, among them three sixteenth-century daimyos (powerful Japanese feudal lords) renowned for unifying the nation.
With the help of Aichi Now, the official site for tourism in the Aichi Prefecture.
Visit Japan’s smallest castle: Inuyama
On that note, the Aichi Prefecture is also home to Japan’s smallest castle. In Inuyama the spring cherry blossoms can be photographed against the scenic backdrop of the main watchtower of Inuyama Castle, the only structure that remains of the sixteenth-century fortress. Of the 12 castles in the country that stand in their original form today, Inuyama is the smallest and one of the oldest.
Walk amongst cherry and maple blossoms in Toyota
The Obara area in the city of Toyota is planted with more than 10,000 cherry trees that bloom twice each year.
The unusual sight is made up of red maples, pink cherries, and evergreens that display a cornucopia of beautiful colors and textures. As many as 300 cherry trees, called Shiki-zakura, bloom in Obara Fureai Park and its immediate vicinity from mid-March to early April and again from late October to early December. Obara is also home to Obara washi, a tradition of sturdy handcrafted paper carried on since the late fifteenth century.
Tuck into breakfast Nagoyan style
Nagoyans love to start the day with the classic “morning service”, the equivalent of happy hour at breakfast time. For a limited period each morning, a light meal of toast and a boiled egg, sometimes also a mini salad and yogurt, is served for the price of a coffee bought in the UK.
The bread is typically cut extra thick and toasted golden-brown. When it is topped with a pot of lightly salted butter and a scoop of sweet red-bean jam, it’s a treat known as Ogura toast.
Watch the sunrise at Hii no Sekimon
The island of Shinojima is a popular spot for watching the sunset, but a lesser-known secret is to catch the sunrise a short speed boat ride away at Hii no Sekimon, a rock formation in the sea near Cape Irago at the tip of the Atsumi Peninsula.
The rock itself is the result of seismic activity 200 million years ago, hollowed out over the millennia to form a striking arc. From late October through January, its window is perfectly aligned with the rising sun when viewed from Hii Park.