Starting from Nagoya Castle and Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, Aichi has a lot to offer for tourists. From family-friendly Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens to Minami-Chita Beach Land on the Chita Peninsula, Aichi has so many places to see that it’s hard to visit them all in one go. Here are some of Aichi’s hidden gems as recommended by the locals. Hopefully you will find this guide useful in choosing where to go.
1. The treasure that is Inuyama Castle
First on the list is Inuyama Castle located in the city of Inuyama in the northwest part of the prefecture. You may think the castle is too well-known to be considered a hidden gem, but unlike Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle is in fact one of only 12 surviving Japanese castles built before the Edo period, thus earning it a place on the list. Following the fall of the samurai government at the beginning of the Meiji period, most castles were ordered to be abandoned and destroyed. Therefore Nagoya Castle, Osaka Castle and many other castles in Japan are mere replicas with nothing but stone walls left of their original glory. Inuyama Castle, on the other hand, is one of the 12 castles that have survived in their original form, a list that also includes the castles of Hikone, Bitchu-Matsuyama and Himeji. In other words, Inuyama Castle is a true treasure! Old wooden and stone structures still survive in the castle, and the squeaking floors, the distinctive smell of wood, the roof beams and the ceiling, the spacious corridors and tall rooms all bear smells and traces of history. Come spring, the cherry blossoms surrounding the castle are also a sight to behold.
2. Takeshima, a power spot floating off Mikawa Bay
Takeshima is a small island off Mikawa Bay. This power spot has been designated as a natural monument due to over 200 species of subtropical plants growing on the island. It can be accessed by crossing the 387 meters long Takeshima Bridge connecting the island to land. It’s not every day that you can cross an ocean by foot, so the island is definitely a place to visit at least once. On the other side of the bridge visitors are greeted with a big torii gate. This torii belongs to the Yaotomi Shrine where Tokugawa Ieyasu himself is said to have prayed at. The shrine is dedicated to Yaotomi Benten, one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune. You can get around the scenic and green island by foot. The beach is also very beautiful, looking out to the picturesque Mikawa Bay. There is also an aquarium on the island, so it’s a nice destination for a picnic.
3. Aichi’s beloved doll Nana-chan
Last on the list is the doll Nana-chan, a popular meeting spot and a local mascot of sorts. Nana-chan is a huge, 6 meters tall mannequin standing in front of Meitetsu Department Store in Nagoya. Born in 1973, Nana-chan is often seen sporting seasonal outfits from yukata to swim wear and even a Christmas costume, much to the amusement of the locals. As mentioned previously, Nana-chan is the default meeting spot when planning to meet up near the Nagoya station. Try paying attention to Nana-chan’s choice of fashion when visiting the city.
This post is also available in: Japanese