Travel the Unknown Japan Part 4: Okazaki & Tokoname City of Aichi Prefecture - Rakso Travel

Rakso Travel

Rakso Air Travel & Tours, Inc. is a Premium Travel Service Provider established in 1999. A pioneer in promoting the Philippines to the elite Korea market, Rakso Travel has since become a full-pledged travel agency specializing in the development of both inbound and outbound tour products for corporate incentives and leisure tours.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Travel the Unknown Japan Part 4: Okazaki & Tokoname City of Aichi Prefecture

Japan is known for its many unique icons which you can easily recognize when you see one. Such symbols, either real or a replica, constitute the culture and traditions of the country and still live at present in this modern time. As I mentioned in Part 3 of Unknown Japan, some of the cities that lie in the outskirts of Nagoya are loved because of their naturalness and uniqueness. This time let's tour Okazaki City and Tokaname City of Aichi Prefecture, Japan. 



Okazaki, known as the "Castle Town" of the old Tokaido, is another city of Aichi Prefecture with a distinct feature. Okazaki City is better known as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate and one of the most influential figures in Japan's history. In fact, the Okazaki Castle is the exact location of his nativity. During the Edo Period, the city was prosperous. The presence of merchants, artisans, and manufacturers was the manifestation of the influence of the Tokugawa clan. 

The Clock Tower at Okazaki's Castle Park

Vicinity Map of the Okazaki Castle Park

The entire Okazaki Castle Park has 3 main attractions: the Okazaki Castle, the Iyeyasu & Mikawa Bushi Museum, and the performance of the Samurai in front of the museum. 


Way back in the year 1455, the original Okazaki Castle was made up of wood. After the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the new Meiji Government ordered to demolish the castle in 1873 leaving only the stone pillar. But reconstruction followed in 1959. The structure was transformed using a Ferro-cement material. Although the structure was reconstructed and refurbished, the original style and size of the old castle remains. 


Okazaki Castle


Today, the castle exhibits the relics of the battle during the Edo Period including the iconic samurai swords, armors, and other equipment. The five-story castle also showcases dioramas of the previous war and the way of life of the locals. 

Displayed armors at the Okazaki Castle

Life-sized armor  and other war relics at the Okazaki Castle

The Iyeyasu and Mikawa Bushi Museum on the other hand, houses the replica of Ieyasu’s armor, his original sword and other weapons, and documents about Ieyasu's life including the diorama of the Battle of the Sekigahara. 

Behind me is the monument of Iyeyasu Tokugawa, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate and one of the most influential figures in Japan

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try the samurai armor that was offered by the museum. There are samurai cosplayers whom we can ask for a photo opp. They also welcome the visitors and perform the Aoi Bushotai Performance.  

Photo opportunity with the Aoi Bushotai Performer (the likes of Kenshin Himura :D )

Tofu or bean curd (in English) became popular during the Tokugawa Era (tofu was invented in China in 179 BC). The oldest and still operating factory in Japan is the famous Maruya Hatcho Miso (hometown of Hatcho Miso) found in Okazaki City. 


The fermentation process of Hacho Miso inside these sealed giant containers takes 2-years before consumption.  


This colossal container has a diameter of approximately 7 ft. and a height of around 8 ft.

This miso business was founded by Yaejiemon Ohta in 1337 and became "hatcho" in the 16th century. The name was derived from the word "ha" meaning 8 and "cho" meaning one city block. The hatcho or 8 blocks pertained to the distance of the factory from the Okazaki Castle where Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of Tokugawa Shogunate, was born. Okazaki's Hatcho miso is known by its sobriquet “the food of the warrior" as it was the prized ration of the samurai warriors during the Sengoku Period (Warring State). 

The Mayura Hatcho Miso Factory

Now, the famous factory is called Maruya Hatcho Miso and it is also a tourist spot in the city. One impressive sight in the factory is the collection of hundred year-old barrels where the soy bean paste is processed. The barrel or keg has an approximate diameter and height of 6 to 7 feet. As I remember, the miso is placed in those colossal containers, tightly sealed with a wooden lid that is pressed by a pile of stones arranged like a pyramid, and allowed to ferment up to 2 years before the locals process it for consumption. The location of the factory houses a museum and a shop that sells different miso products. 

The Shipukiji Temple from afar

The staircase to Shipukiji Temple

Another place to visit in Okazaki City is the Shinpukuji Temple. The place is situated on the elevated part of the forest/mountain so we had to trudge all the way up (good thing :) the walkway is concreted). It was the first time I witnessed a bamboo forest which I normally see in movies or anime.  We dropped by the temple where we met a Buddhist monk. 


The bamboo forest



Written prayers tied up in the rope just outside the temple

We were segregated based on our animal zodiac year of birth and prayed for everyone's' health and wisdom. The temple is connected by a red metal bridge to the souvenir shop and a restaurant, where we took our lunch called "bamboo shoot cuisine". The meal we ate was quite different compared to other local Japanese food, but the presentation is similar. It claimed to be a vegetarian meal although fresh squid was included. Bamboo shoots were the main ingredient of the dishes: tempura, soup, tea, and even desserts. Not to mention all the eating paraphernalia were made of bamboo as well.

Bamboo Shoot Meal

Ikkyu San seated at the foot of the staircase (way up to the temple)

The next destination after our sumptuous meal at the Shinpukuji Temple is Tokoname City. Tokoname City's unique feature is its ceramic production that goes back to the Heian Period (794-1185). In fact, Tokoname is one of the "Six Ancient Kilns of Japan" and considered to be the biggest and the oldest among the six (Bizen, Shigaraki, Tamba, Seto & Echizen) Source: (http://www.tokoname.or.jp/cerapath/path-e.htm). The two remarkable places we visited are the Pottery Footpath and Inax Museum. 


One of the preserve pottery houses at the Pottery Footpath


Choose which cuties you want! Sculpture products at the pottery shop

The Pottery Footpath is actually a village that has a foot trail of approximately 1.6 kilometers and 25 stations or stops. It takes almost 60 minutes to walk. I recommend this walking tour to youngsters. They will definitely enjoy the trek which starts at the Tokoname Ceramic Hall. Compared to a forest or mountain trek in which you can see the nature, this one lets you witness the locals’ life through pottery and glass sculptures. The same place houses the icon of Tokoname: the Maneki-neko that is known for its nickname "Tokonyan". The giant statue of the welcoming cat has a height of 3.8 meters and a width of 6.3 meters.

Meet Tokonyan! The icon of Tokoname City.

Aren't they lovely! These are just some of the for sale products at the Pottery Footpath placed just outside the shop

The locals believe that Tokonyan perpetually watches the entire town. The structure is found in Station 5 when you take the A-Course Trail. According to our tour guide Akiko or ‘Ako’-san, there are other courses aside from the path which we took. Other things you'll see along the way are the Japanese liquor bottle called 'Shochu', ceramic pipes piled on the wall, ceramics shops of different varieties, a fence of kiln brick called 'danma', Japanese houses, and others. See the walking trail. 

Shochu, beautifully piled on the wall. This is one of the unusual and unique features of the Pottery Footpath

Walls made up of stacked ceramic pipes & sochu are just some of the unique attractions within the Foothpath.

Inax Museum. The museum has many parts and I find one of them very amusing and interesting for it features the collection of old Japanese ceramic toilet bowls. Quite strange, right? This part is called the Inax Kiln Plaza. It is actually a building built in 1921 with a tall chimney. The collection of the sometsuke (blue and white colors) toilet bowls as I mentioned earlier was a trace of the Meiji Period (1868 to 1911). 


Display of different types of toilet bowl

Monkey-designed toilet bowl

The next part is the Inax Tile Museum which houses around 7,000 tiles collected from various countries and of different ages, from pre-Christian period to this modern day. Inax Clay Works and Inax Tiling Workshop are the other two parts of the museum.  


Urinals. One of the displayed items at the museum 

The materials for the art workshop

Artistic tiled-wall at the Inax Museum

Artistic tiled-wall displayed at the Inax Museum

There you have it, the last part of the Travel the Unknown Japan series. I hope you enjoyed all 4 articles. Stay tuned for the next destination, Jeju Island, South Korea


Special thanks to Tourism Bureauof Aichi Prefecture Government and RaksoTravel who sponsored my trip to Aichi Prefecture of Japan!

G A L L E R Y
(Photos by Charito Nario | taken last November 2016)

Group photo with the Aichi Prefecture Tourism Officers and the Aoi Bushotai Performer

Okazaki Castle Observatory Deck

Okazaki Castle Observatory Deck



Life-sized armor at the Okazaki Castle


Samurai swords display at the Okazaki Castle

One of the structures within the vicinity of Castle Park

A well near the Castle. The locals believed that drinking its water will cleanse your body and soul

With our tour guide Akiko 'Ako'  Konishi San

Inside the Mayura Hatcho Miso Factory Fermentation Area

The hatcho miso fermentation process

One of the Products of Hacho Miso for sale at its shop

Products of Hacho Miso for sale at its shop

The ceiling of Shipukuji Temple 

One of the structures within the vicinity of Shipukiji Temple

The main entrance of the Shipukuji Temple

Spot, one of the main characters in the Good Dinosaur movie is an attraction inside this ceramic shop. 

A cafe found at the station 6

One of the preserved houses at the Pottery Footpath

No comments:

Post a Comment