Toyota City Aichi: Travel the Unknown Japan Part 1

Aichi Prefecture of Japan, to a foreigner like me, is not really known. In fact, if you ask the average person "Do you know Aichi, Japan?” they would probably say, "I don't know." But if you ask if they know Nagoya, the answer is definitely ‘Yes.' Nagoya is the capital city of Aichi Prefecture. 

Last year, I travelled to Aichi Prefecture via the Chubu Centrair International Airport for the first time. It was autumn then; in the month of November. The surroundings were tinged with red, orange & yellow. This is the usual scenery in late third quarter and early fourth quarter of the year.

The Obara Shikizakura (photo taken last November 2016)

The eye-opener for visiting Japan's Aichi is Toyota City. This is the birthplace of Toyota Motor Corporation (this will be featured in the succeeding write-up) and from which its name was derived. Sounds industrial, right? But mind you, there's more to it. 

The scenic sight of the sakura (cherry blossom) trees in bloom was a surprise for me. Who would’ve thought that they bloomed in autumn? I did not expect those delicate blossoms since sakura trees normally bloom in spring. The autumnal blooming of sakura is what makes Aichi unique.

Winter Cherry Blossom in full bloom

This magnificent place is called Obara Shikizakura. Shikizakura is translated into English as 'winter cherry blossom'. Compared to common cherry blossoms, shikizakura blooms twice a year, first in spring and another time in autumn. 

The autumn color of the Obara Shikizakura 

According to Obara Tourism, the best time to visit and witness the stunning view is from mid-November to the first week of December. The area has been designated as a natural monument by Aichi Prefecture and is now carefully protected. One amazing fact is that Obara Shikizakura has an approximately 10,000 shikizakura that are more than 100 years of age.
The autumn color of the Obara Shikizakura 

The autumn color of the Obara Shikizakura

The autumn color of the Obara Shikizakura

Another interesting, perhaps one of the best, spot aside from the Obara Shikizakura is Korankei, the festival stalls and the ‘hidden’ village (I personally chose this term to describe the district). This place is a picture of nature and the locals’ way of living. Korankei is a gorge blessed with an environment of changing colors, thanks to the maple trees that mushroomed the area – from the valley up to the 254 meter-tall Mt. Limori, where the Kojakuji Temple is situated. History reveals that in the 17th century, a priest planted maple trees along the temple and the locals followed suit ( 

The Taigetsukyo Bridge & Tomoe River

During the autumn season, the red color of the Taigetsukyo Bridge traversing the Tomoe River complements the autumn leaves that are turning into yellow, orange and red. To the locals, the bridge is the symbol of the great Korankei. 

Walking around the festive stalls with Assistant Director Masayuki Kato of the International Tourism & Convention Division Tourism Burea of Aichi Prefecture Government and Director Yuki Morita of the Department of Commerce and Tourism Industry Division of Toyota City 

One popular picture which I normally see in Japanese animations like Naruto (my favorite) is the festival stalls. These booths crowd the area from dusk till late evening. I tried the dango and taiyaki (I would call it a fish cake although it is not made of fish. It is simply shaped like a fish). These sweets are the local delicacies. 

Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village

Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village at dusk

Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village at dusk

A craftsman showing basket weaving

Photo with the artisan in his wood carving shop

Hand crafted items for sale at one of the shops in Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village

A local post with her hand crafted  products

At the end of the old street where the souvenir shops and food kiosks dotted is the Taigetsukyo Bridge, where you can access the village called Sanshu Asuke Yashiki VillageThe village was established to preserve the dying monodzukuri culture of Japan. As artisan's work are now being replaced by the machine operated production. This area showcases the traditional atmosphere of the Japanese way of life: wood carving, basket weaving, blacksmithing, paper making and other traditional crafts – simple and plain, far from modernity. 

Stay tune for the part 2 of Unknown Japan: Aichi Tour 

Special thanks to Tourism Bureau of Aichi Prefecture Government and Rakso Travel who sponsored my trip to Aichi Prefecture of Japan. 

(Photos by Charito Nario | taken last November 2016)

Seating at the typical Japanese house 

The author and the tour guide Ms. Akiko 'Ako' Konishi

Different colors of wood

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