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Friday, Jan. 13, 2006

Aichi Prefecture shows the glory of culture, industry -- past and present

Aichi Prefecture, internationally better known as the venue of the 2005 Aichi World Expo, which was successfully held for six months last year, is located near the center of Japan and has prospered as a corridor between the east, west, north and south with a long history.

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Nagoya castle is the symbol of Nagoya, originally built in 1612 by the founder of Tokugawa shogunate and rebuilt in 1959 after being destroyed in World War II.

The prefecture, whose capital is the city of Nagoya, is surrounded by nature, namely the sea and green mountains, and has many historical sites and cultural assets. Tourists will be able to encounter local entertainment and festivals as well as traditional.

Aichi is, on the other hand, the base of many industries from the traditional, like textiles and ceramics, to the manufacturing of automobiles, represented by Toyota Motors, and to machinery and high technology industries such as the aerospace industry. The opening in February 2005 of the Central Japan International Airport, a 24-hour offshore airport in the vicinity of Nagoya City, popularly known as CENTRAIR, is another booster of the prefecture's industrial prowess.

Aichi abounds in historical and cultural spots worth visiting. Aside from beautiful scenery, it is a place for delicious food and traditional handicrafts. Some of the tourist attractions in the city of Nagoya and its adjacent areas are as follows:

Nagoya Castle

News photo
The statue of Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611), a feudal warrior and lord from Owari (the old name for the Nagoya area), is at Meijo Park in Nagoya.

This castle was built in 1612 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate regime that lasted until 1867. It was burnt down during World War II, and the current donjon was reconstructed in 1959 with five tiers in seven stories. The 3rd floor through the 5th floor were remodeled in 1997 and are used for the exhibition of goods to show the life of the feudal lord and the citizens of Nagoya in the Edo Period. The 7th floor is used as an observation deck.

Nagoya TV Tower

Built in the center of the Hisaya Odori Park in 1954, the 180-meter-high TV wave transmission tower has the observation balcony some 100 meters high from the ground, which commands a panoramic view of the entire city of Nagoya, the Nobi Plains, Ise Bay, the Suzuka and Yoro mountains and Mikawa Bay, as well as the Chubu Sangaku mountains.

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

The 13 companies of the Toyota Group established this museum to have people understand the importance and wonder of "making things" and the "originality and research" needed for it that has become harder to see as the high technology of industries has evolved in recent years. On show is a variety of machinery used in everything from textile manufacturing to automobile production.

Tokugawa Art Museum

This museum has a collection of so-called "Daimyo Dogu," the precious treasure of the Owari Tokugawa feudal lord. The collection covers over 10,000 items, including armor and swords, noh costumes and tea ceremony accoutrements, all inheritance of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and his clan. The museum is a unique facility that satisfies the most diehard Japanophile.

Noritake Garden

This industrial exhibition center consists of three zones -- "Culture Zone," "Historical Zone" and "Commercial Zone," and you can enjoy seeing how high-grade ceramics are manufactured. You can also try your hand at painting ceramics at the Craft Center and see rare ceramic plates called "Old Noritake," made in the early days of the Noritake Company, which are on display at the Noritake Museum. The first plant, which was constructed in 1904 from red bricks symbolizes the history of western plates in Japan. Even if you have no interest in ceramics, you can also enjoy shopping and dining or stroll around the Fountain Plaza and the Chimney Plaza.

Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium

Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in Japan, is conveniently located at the Nagoya Port Garden Pier, a very close walk from the Nagoya Port subway station. It is made up of the North Building and the South Building. It has about 30,000 creatures of 350 kinds that live in five oceans from around Japan to the Antarctic Pole. There are a number of theaters, including the Ocean Theater that shows the power and nature of oceans.

Atsuta Shrine

A major shrine, ranking second only to the Great Shrine of Ise, Atsuta has been one of the greatest centers of worship in Japan from ancient times. Visitors to the shrine, including those who practice the conventional New Year visit, now count about 8 million annually. Originally founded some 1,900 years ago, the shrine worships the Kusanagi Sword, one of the three Sacred Treasures. It is also noted for the Nohgakuden, Nobunaga Wall, 25-cho-bashi Bridge, and Homotsu-kan (Treasure Museum) that houses many national treasures and important cultural. During World War II, more of its buildings were destroyed by fire. After the war, the reconstruction was begun by the combined effort of all devout worshippers of the shrine all over the country. The main buildings were completed in 1955.

Toyota Automobile Museum

The automobile keeps running as a dream of man, civilization and culture. This museum systematically exhibits over 100 classical cars from Europe, the United States and Japan in one building so that visitors may easily understand the 100-year history of automobile from its birth in the end of the 19th century. The museum has a library that keeps about 12,000 books and videotapes related to automobiles.

Inuyama Castle

Inuyama Castle lies on the southern side of the Kiso River and was built about 450 years ago. Its donjon, the oldest in Japan, is designated as a national treasure. Its structure is of three outer tiers with four inner stories with a two story-basement. The top floor of the donjon is an observation room from which you can overlook Mount Kiso Ontake and Mount Ena in the east and northeast, Mount Komaki and the vast Nobi Plains in the south, Mount Ibuki and Gifu Castle in the west, and mountains of the Mino region in the north. This castle is known as the only privately owned castle in Japan.

Cormorant fishing

Cormorant fishing is a traditional Japanese fishing method in which trained cormorants are used to catch fresh-water trout and other fish. Cormorant fishing in Inuyama has a 340-year history. At night from June through September, you can see fishermen working their cormorants in the old style. Cormorant fishing can be seen in Inuyama Park, a five-minute walk from Inuyama Yuen Station on the Meitetsu Inuyama Line.

Meiji-Mura

Meiji-Mura was opened in 1965 as an open-air museum to permanently preserve and exhibit valuable buildings and historical materials of the Meiji Era, when the foundations of modern Japan were established. This village consists of 10 buildings designated as national important cultural properties and 66 historical buildings, including the one designated as a "tangible" cultural property of Aichi Prefecture on the site and that extends some 1 million square meters.

Aichi is also rich in culinary delights from both land and sea and offers a wide range of local dishes, such as "kishimen," or the flat noodles known throughout Japan as a Nagoya delicacy, and "uiro," or a steamed cake of rice flour and sugar, which is one of Nagoya's best-known confectionery items.

Having satisfied your appetite for food, you can also hunt through local shops for a variety of fascinating gifts and souvenirs. Perhaps the best memento of your trip is a craft item made by skilled local craftspeople. "Shippo-yaki" (cloisonne), made by embedding silver or copper into enamel, is a traditional craft item in the town of Shippo. Visitors can buy shippo-yaki items or view the production processes in the town's Industry Center.

For more information, visit the Aichi Prefectural Government Web site www.pref.aichi.jp/index-e.html or, alternatively, the Web site of the Aichi Prefectural Tourist Association, www.aichi-kanko.jp/english/

This article is compiled from tourist information prepared by the Aichi Prefectural Government.


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