Tag Archive Nagoya Is Not Boring

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From the Grand Sumo Tournament to Visiting a Sumo Stable: All Things Sumo in Nagoya Part 2

Sumo wrestling is an integral part of Japan’s culture and has been practiced in one form or another for around 2000 years.

In part 1 we shared everything you need to know if you are new to Sumo, and want to attend the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament. If you haven’t read it yet, follow this link.

But a Grand Sumo Tournament like the one held in Nagoya each summer isn’t the only way to experience Sumo. Nagoya also plays host to all 42 active Sumo Stables for around one month before and during the tournament. And many open their doors to visitors during the morning hours, to observe a stable’s morning practice.

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16 Unforgettable Summer Festivals in Nagoya and Aichi in 2021

Summer is finally here! And with the arrival of the hot weather, we are ready to have some fun!
The Japanese summers are synonymous with incredible festivals. Summer inspires some of the most stunning Natsu Matsuri (summer festivals) with Obon dances and spectacular fireworks displays.

Everyone dresses up in their most beautiful Yukata and looks forward to the popular festival foods. Time to indulge in Yakisoba, Takoyaki, Kakigori, Castella, Taiyaki, Okonomiyaki, Ringo Ame, and many many more.

Another highlight, especially popular with young children, are the festival booths selling toys and offering games to catch real goldfish.

These summer festivals in Japan provide fantastic opportunities to experience local and traditional culture, music, art, drinks, and food.

In and around Nagoya, you will come across at least one summer festival almost every weekend between June and August. Here is a list of the top summer festivals in Nagoya and Aichi for you to enjoy.

… view more by clicking on source below.

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From the Grand Sumo Tournament to Visiting a Sumo Stable: All Things Sumo in Nagoya Part 1

When people think about Japan, one of the first things they think of is Sumo Wrestling. So when people plan their trips to Japan, they often want to see a Sumo tournament. But what most people don’t realize is that getting to see a Sumo tournament or even a morning Sumo practice is normally quite difficult.

Nagoya is lucky to host the Grand Summer Sumo Tournament, one of only six tournaments each year. In addition to hosting the Sumo tournament, all of the 42 active Sumo stables will travel to Nagoya roughly two weeks before the tournament to train and acclimatize to Nagoya’s hot and humid summer weather. During this time, a large number of stables allow visitors to observe their morning training. …

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Atsuta Jingu: Exploring the Most Sacred Place in Nagoya

Atsuta Shrine, also called, Atsuta-san or Atsuta-sama, is the second most important Shinto shrine in Japan, after the Ise Grand Shrine. The venerated sun goddess Amaterasu is enshrined here as well as being home to the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi which is one of the three Japanese imperial treasures. Legend has it that Amaterasu gave the sword to the first emperor of Japan and from it gained the right to rule. (Please be aware that the sword is never shown to the public).

Atsuta Shrine is the second-largest shrine after the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture and welcomes close to 10 million visitors a year. The shrine is particularly popular at New Years’ as visitors come for Hatsumode, the first visit to a temple or shrine of the year.

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Where to Try the Best Ebi Fry (Deep-Fried Shrimp) in Nagoya

If you love shrimp, then Nagoya is a fantastic place to visit. Aichi Prefecture, home of Nagoya,  has one of the highest per capita shrimp consumption in the country. This is probably because shrimp can be easily fished in Ise Bay. And because seafood tastes best when it’s fresh, it is often found on the plates of the locals.

In fact, the official fish of the Aichi Prefecture is the tiger prawn. True, prawns are not actually fish, but who cares?

What better way to try some of the delicious regional prawns than by having a go at a local Nagoya specialty called Ebi Furai.

Have You Ever Heard of Ebi Furai? If Not Your Missing Out

Ebi Furai or Ebi Fry is deep-fried shrimp and is sometimes translated as shrimp fritters. Traditionally made from tiger prawns, but nowadays, more often than not using black tiger prawns or even up to 30 centimeters long Japanese spiny lobster (Ise Ebi).

The prawns are battered in Panko bread crumbs and then deep-fried to perfection. Crispy outside and juicy, but not at all fishy inside.

Ebi Furai vs Ebi Tempura: What are the differences?

Ebi Furai vs Ebi Tempura
Left: Ebi Furai, Right: Ebi Tempura

If you are wondering what the difference between Ebi Furai and shrimp Tempura is, let us clear this up for you.

Both are deep-fried shrimp—no question about it. But while Ebi Tempura is battered in a mixture of flour and water, Ebi Furai uses the characteristic Japanese Panko bread crumbs. Panko is a type of crustless white bread that is shaved into flakes before being dried. Panko bread crumbs have an airier flavor and absorb less oil than standard breadcrumbs. 

The two dishes are also served differently. While Ebi Tempura is either served with salt or a Tempura dipping sauce called Tentsuyu, Ebi Furai is either served with tartar sauce, Tonkatsu sauce, or as a Nagoya specialty with a Red Miso or even Hatcho Miso sauce.

The Origin of Ebi Furai Might Surprise You

Ebi Furai frying ebi furai
Frying Ebi Furai

The popular dish might have been invented in Tokyo sometime in the middle of the Meiji Period (1868-1912) when Japan was quickly modernizing. The Meiji Period saw many new ‘westernized’ dishes appear for the first time on restaurant menus, and Ebi Furai was no exception. But the actual origin is unknown.

Deep-fried shrimp is by no means a dish limited only to Nagoya and can be found at restaurants and Izakaya all over the country.

Ebi Furai as a local Nagoya specialty was popularized by accident in the 1980s when a then-popular comedian made fun of how Nagoyans pronounce Ebi Furai. This led to an association of Ebi Furai with Nagoya and the rising popularity of the dish in the region.

Where to Eat the Best Ebi Fry in Nagoya

While you will find Ebi Furai on Izakaya menus all across Nagoya, including at coffee shops as a popular lunch option, there are a couple of places in Nagoya that specialize in the dish. At these restaurants, Ebi Furai is taken seriously. If you love shrimp, we recommend trying one of them while you are in the city.

Ebidote Shokudo

Ebi Furai Ebidote
Ebi Furai in Ebidote

This restaurant has the word Ebi in its name, which tells us that it specializes in shrimp. At Ebidote Shokudo, you will find a whole menu of different shrimp and prawn dishes.

The highlight is Japan’s biggest Ebi Furai (at least that’s what they claim). At up to 35 centimeters long, it really is a gigantic fried shrimp.

The different fried shrimp dishes are either served as sets or as Donburi rice bowls with various sauces, such as tartar sauce, Tonkatsu sauce, and, of course, Miso.

Ebidote Shokudo is conveniently located inside the Esca Underground Shopping Street on the west side of Nagoya Station.

Ebidote Shokudo – Esca Branch (海老どて食堂エスカ店)
Opening Hours: 11:30 – 22:00
Address: 6-9 Tsubakicho, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 453-0015 (Located in the Esca Underground Shopping Street)
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Maruha Shokudo

Ebi Furai Maruha
Ebi Furai in Maruha Shokudo

Maruha Shokudo opened in 1950 in a small town on the Chita Peninsula. It is a seafood restaurant that is famous for its Ebi Furai.

If you have come to try Ebi Furai at Maruha Shokudo, we recommend that you try the Ebi Furai Teishoku (set meal). It consists of 2 big fried shrimp served on a bed of cabbage and a bowl of rice, Miso soup, and some pickles. There are also sets that include Sashimi or a salad topped with shrimp.

Another specialty at Maruha Shokudo is the Maki Ebi Furai, a fried shrimp wrapped like a Maki Sushi roll and cut into bite-size pieces. Other dishes include different kinds of fish, either as Sashimi, grilled, boiled, or fried.

The original shop is at the tip of the Chita Peninsula and cannot easily be reached with public transport. But that’s no problem as you will find multiple shops have opened in Nagoya. Either visit the modern shop inside the Lachic Shopping Mall in Sakae, with fantastic airy views and a great atmosphere, or the one inside Nagoya Stations Umaimon Dori.

There is also a shop at Nagoya Airport for your last chance to eat some delicious Ebi Furai before your flight home.

Maruha Shokudo – Sakae Lachic Branch (まるは食堂ラシック店)
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11:00 – 15:00 and 17:00 – 22:00; Weekends 11:00 – 22:00
Address: 3-6-1 Sakae, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0008
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Konparu

Ebi Furai Konparu
Ebi Furai Sando in Konparu

This chain of coffee shops originated in Nagoya in 1947 is the place to go if you want to see the more traditional side of Japan and if you want to see what a coffee shop used to be like in post-war Japan.

Konparu is famous for one thing (and it’s not their coffee) it’s their delicious Ebi Furai Sando. A sandwich filled with fried shrimp, egg, and cabbage, and a special delightful sauce. With a price tag of 980 yen, it is definitely not cheap but so delicious that it’s worth every yen.

Ebi Furai Sando goes very well with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Having the iced coffee at Konparu is an experience in itself, so we recommend you go for that.

The original Konparu is inside the Osu Shopping District, and inside, it feels like time has stood still for the past 70 years or so.

Other locations include the underground shopping malls at Nagoya Station called Meichika and Sakae called Mori no Chikamachi, with a total of 9 shops dotted across the city.

Yanagibashi Central Market (柳橋中央市場)
Entry Fee: free
Opening Hours: 4:00 – 10:00; closed Wednesdays and Sundays
Address: 4-11-3 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 450-0002
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

Misokatsu Yabaton

Ebi Furai with Miso Katsudon Yabaton
Ebi Furai with Miso Katsu in Yabaton

If you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can visit Misokatsu Yabaton. This is probably the most popular Miso Katsu restaurant in Nagoya, but it also serves delicious Ebi Furai and other fried dishes such as fried asparagus and Korokke (Japanese Croquettes).

If you cannot decide, order the set with a small Miso Katsu, Ebi Furai, and fried asparagus roll. You won’t regret it!

Misokatsu Yabaton has so many shops in and around Nagoya; chances are you will find one close by. The highest density of shops is around Nagoya Station and Sakae.

Misokatsu Yabaton – Esca Branch (みそかつ矢場とん名古屋駅エスカ店)
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 22:00
Address: 6-9 Tsubakicho, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 453-0015 (Located in the Esca Underground Shopping Street
Website | Google Maps

If Ebi Furai Isn’t Enough to Quench Your Shrimp Addition, Nagoya Has Lots of Other Shrimp Options as Well

Lena eating Ebi Furai
Lena enjoying Ebi Furai

Ebi Furai is not the only shrimp specialty in Nagoya. Don’t forget to try some Tenmusu mini rice balls filled with a small shrimp Tempura. And as a souvenir from Nagoya, buy a pack of Ebi Senbei, shrimp rice crackers!


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Kiso River Cormorant Fishing in Inuyama: Experience 1300 Years of History

For over 1,300 years, local fishermen in Japan have used an unusual technique to catch river fish during the summer. Japanese cormorants called Ukai in Japanese are trained for up to three years by their owners to help them catch fish. Known as Ukai in Japanese, cormorant fishing is a unique traditional method that is rare today and mostly continued as both a tourist attraction and a way to keep old traditions alive. Inuyama is one of the best locations to enjoy watching this fantastic spectacle.

A Brief History of Cormorant Fishing 

Inuyama Ukai
Cormorant fishing night performance

The cormorant fishing technique was brought to Japan from China over 1,300 years ago. Fishers noticed that cormorant birds would catch fish and store them in their throats to bring up later to share with their family or for their own consumption. Thinking that they could help catch river fish like Ayu, fishermen began putting loose strings around the cormorants’ necks. They did it so that small fish were allowed to pass through for the cormorant to feed itself. But the line would trap larger fish in the cormorant’s throat, allowing them to be brought up later for the fisherman. 

Some of the earliest books on Japanese history include information on cormorant fishing. In the 8th and 9th centuries, cormorant fishing was not only a reliable method for fishermen to catch fish; it had also evolved into a popular pastime among the feudal and aristocratic lords. 

One of the most important feudal lords in Japanese history, Oda Nobunaga, supported the cormorant fishermen, granting some of them the title of Usho or “Master Cormorant Fisher“. This remarkable fact immensely helped the development of the fishing industry and the preservation of this form of fishing until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

During the Meiji Period, the system of government changed utterly, and the protective policy of the feudal lords came to an end. Cormorant fishing faced many difficulties. But several years later, in 1890, by order of the Imperial Family, the Emperor named the cormorant fishermen along the nearby Nagara River, Fishermen of the Imperial Agency, making them members of the Imperial Household. Since then, this title has been passed down from parents to children to this day.

From Tradition to a Tourist Attraction and a Living Museum Exhibit

Inuyama view
View of Inuyama castle and Kiso river

Currently, Ukai is preserved in only around 13 locations across Japan. With Inuyama Castle in the background, Inuyama is still one of the most scenic places to enjoy this small part of history. 

While cormorant fishing is sometimes done during the day, the best time to watch is in the evening. At nightfall, the Ukai boats go out with a fire basket hanging out over the boat’s bow to attract fish. One master fisherman and two assistants to help row and steer are located in the small wooden ship. 

Inuyama Ukai
Cormorant fisheman explaining about the cormorant abilities

The Usho (master fisherman) will bring 8-12 cormorants with them, each with one end of a rope tied loosely around their necks. The other end of the strings is loosely held in the Usho’s left hand. As the cormorants glide across the water, the ropes can become twisted, so the Usho uses their right hand to untangle the cords and make sure each cormorant can move freely. Extreme skill is required so that the ropes tied to the cormorants do not get tangled. 

Inuyama Ukai
A cormorant showing its wings to the public

The cormorants dive into the river as the glow of the fire attracts the fish. At that moment, the fisherman pulls the rope and quickly retrieves the fish from the bird’s throat. Each cormorant can hold approximately five or six fish in its mouth at the same time.

As the fishing boats move up and down the Kiso River, you can join in the hunt by boarding a sightseeing boat. Some plans even include dinner on board. You will be treated to a fantastic experience made even more special as you look up at Inuyama Castle towering on the hill beside the river.

Inuyama Ukai
Cormorants trying to catch Ayu fish

How to Access from Nagoya

You can take a Meitetsu Limited Express train or an Express train bound for Shin-Unuma station from Nagoya station. Get off the train at Inuyamayuen station, located one-stop after Inuyama station.

Once you arrive at Inuyamayuen station, exit the station and take the road to the right that parallels the train tracks. The road quickly turns right and crosses the train tracks. Follow the road for another minute or two, and you will reach the cormorant fishing office and dock.

Nagoya Castle and Meijo Park (名古屋城と名城公園)
Best Time: From the end of March to the beginning of April
Number of Sakura trees: 1,000 approx.
Light up: 18:00 – 20:00
Entry Fee: Adults 500 yen, children under 12 years free
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 16:30
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0031
Access: Take the Meijo subway line to the Shiyakusho station. Take exit 7 and it is a 5 minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Daytime Ukai Tour (sightseeing only)
Availability: Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday between June 1st – October 15th
Start Time: 12:30
Cost: Adults – 3,000yen, Elementary Students – 1,500

Daytime Ukai Tour (sightseeing and lunch)
Availability: Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday between June 1st – October 15th
Start Time: 11:30
Cost: Adults – 5,000yen, Elementary Students – 3,600

Nighttime Ukai Tour (sightseeing only)
Availability: Every day (June – October)
Start Time: June – August 19:00, September and October 18:30
Cost: Adults – 3,000yen, Elementary Students – 1,500

Nighttime Ukai Tour (sightseeing and dinner)
(MUST be booked no later than three days in advance, and reservations are only taken for groups of 2 or more)
Availability: Every day (June – October)
Start Time: June – August 17:45, September and October 17:15
Cost: Adults – 3,000yen, Elementary Students – 1,500 (plus the cost of your chosen dinner which range from 2,500 – 7,000 per person) (drinks are separate)


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The Atsuta Festival, Full Of Floating Lanterns, Traditional Performances and Fireworks

Of the roughly 70 festivals each year held at Atsuta Shrine, the Atsuta Festival (Atsuta Matsuri or Shobu-sai) is by far the biggest and most important. The festival is held every June 5th and signals the arrival of summer.

Atsuta Jingu, also called, Atsuta-san or Atsuta-sama, is the second most revered Shinto shrine in Japan after the Ise Grand Shrine in nearby Mie Prefecture. The goddess of the sun, Amaterasu, is enshrined at Atsuta Jingu along with one of the three imperial treasures, the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi. Please note that the sword is never displayed to the public.

After the Ise Grand Shrine, Atsuta Shrine is the second largest shrine in Japan, welcoming over 9 million visitors a year. Atsuta Shrine was established around 1,900 years ago. Located in the heart of Nagoya, the 190,000 square meter shrine is an oasis of calm in the busy city.

The Atsuta Festival Marks the Beginning of Summer

Carrying the floats

Every June 5th, Atsuta Shrine hosts the Atsuta Festival to mark the beginning of summer. The festival is one of the largest in Nagoya and in fact all of central Japan and includes food stalls, traditional performances and fireworks.

Things to See and Do During the Day

Morning shinto rituals

The festivities begin at 10:00 in the morning with a special ceremony in front of the main sanctuary. The Emperor sends a messenger who together with the priests of the shrine performs a special ceremony dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the shrine.

Atsuta Matsuri
Traditional Japanese perfonmances

During the day you have the chance to see various traditional Japanese performances as well as exhibitions of different Japanese martial arts such as Kyudo (Japanese style archery), Kendo, and Sumo. Some of the traditional performances you can see include Atsuta Kagura (Shinto dance accompanied with music) and Taiko (Japanese drums).

Atsuta Kagura, is one of the many styles of Kagura dance that has been carried out at Atsuta Jingu for almost 1,800 years. Kagura, is a sacred Japanese dance ritual dedicated to Shinto gods and is accompanied by Japanese flutes and drums, and has been practiced to entertain the gods.

Things to See and Do at Night

Atsuta Matsuri
Food stalls

The festivities continue at night, with food stalls lining the area offering some tasty festival foods including Takoyaki (octopus balls), Kakigori (shaved ice), Okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake filled with cabbage and meat), Castella cakes, chocolate banana, Tamasen (fried egg in a rice cracker).

Atsuta Matsuri
Different festival groups showing their floats

One of the most outstanding events of the night is the five Kento Makiwara, huge floats decorated with 365 lanterns. The floats are lit up and displayed at the three entrances to the shrine from 18:00 to 21:00.

Atsuta Matsuri
Fireworks during the festival

Finally, from around 19:40 an impressive fireworks display with more than 1,000 individual fireworks of different types takes place in the Jingu Koen Park for one hour, marking the ending point to the festival.

Atsuta Shrine (熱田まつり)
Entry Fee: Free
Festival Hours: The festival starts around 10:00. The Kento Makiwara are lit up from 18:00 – 21:00. Fireworks from 19:40 to 20:30.
Address: 1-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 456-8585
Access: Take the Meitetsu Line train from Nagoya Station to Jingu-Mae Station. Atsuta Shrine is then a 5 minute walk from the station.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


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Discover Tokoname the Home of Pottery and Beckoning Cats

Tokoname is home to Chubu Centrair International Airport, the largest airport in the region. What many people don’t know, it is also a city with a long tradition of pottery and amazing craftsmanship. Tokoname is an excellent place to visit as a day or half-day trip from Nagoya (or the airport if you have a long layover).

Let Yourself Be Transported to Tokoname by Watching A Whisker Away.

A Whisker Away
Scene from the A Whisker Away Anime movie

Tokoname was recently featured in the Netflix Anime movie ‘A Whisker Away’ which plays in Tokoname. It is about an energetic middle school girl called Muge who transforms into a cat to get closer to her crush Hinode.

It’s a movie about growing up, first love, and the struggle of a girl who has to decide if she is a better cat or young girl.

Make sure to watch the movie before your visit to Tokoname and check out all the beautiful spots featured. Because it can really bring out the magic that can be found in Tokoname.

Top Spots to Learn All About Tokoname’s Famous Pottery.

Inside a pottery shop in Tokoname

Tokoname is the oldest of the Six Ancient Kilns in Japan which are spread out all across the country —Shigaraki, Bizen, Tanba, Echizen, Seto, and Tokoname. These places in Japan are strongly associated with their long pottery producing history.

Tokoname’s pottery history begins in the Heian Period (794-1185) with the manufacturing of ceramic pots and vessels. The city was specialized in teapots, bottles, and containers to transport water, sake and for the storage of Buddhist sutras and scrolls, as well as tiles, bricks, and pipes.

The characteristic of Tokoname pottery or Tokoname Yaki is the bright red color of the clay that is used to make the many different products.

During the hight of pottery production in Tokoname, there were more than 3000 kilns located around the city. Nowadays you can still get an idea of what Tokoname used to look like by visiting the older parts of the city.

Manekineko Street, the Beckoning Cat Open-Air Art Gallery.

Manekineko Street lined with the most creative beckoning cats

The walking path leading from Tokoname Station to the mouth of the Pottery Foot Path is called Manekineko Street and is lined with 39 clay beckoning cats created by talented artists. Tokoname is the largest producer of ceramic lucky cats in Japan and is very proud of that fact.

Why don’t you try to find your favorite piece of art while strolling along the street.

Take a Walk along the Pottery Footpath.

Old houses along the Pottery Footpath

The best way to experience Tokoname Yaki is by following one of the two Pottery Footpaths. The 1.5 kilometers long Course A is the shorter of the two leading past the highlights of Tokoname including the scenic spots such as the Dokanzaka and Climbing Kilns, as well as countless pottery shops, workshop studios, and the Takita Family Residence.

Course B is longer and less visited. The 4-kilometer long course leads past the Tokoname Ceramic Art Institute, Tokoname City Folk Museum, and the INAX Museum Complex.

We will introduce you to all of these spots and more in detail below. So you can make an informed decision which of the paths you would like to follow for your visit to Tokoname.

Pottery Making Experience at a Famous Potter’s Studio.

Tokoname pottery experience
Learing from the master potter

If you really love pottery and don’t just want to have the same pottery experience as everyone else, you should seriously consider this experience at the studio of a renowned potter. Mr. Hirano Yuichi is a fourth-generation potter and his works have been exhibited in the Boston Museum of Art among other places.

The pottery master picks up his own clay at secret spots in the mountains, which makes every piece he creates unique because of the inclusions of minerals in the clay leading to fascinating coloring in the finished item.

This experience feels a lot like a real apprenticeship with a Japanese master. It is intense with a master who really takes his art seriously and expects a certain amount of respect and seriousness from his pupils, even those who only come for a day to learn. 

The location is also exceptional as the master lives in an old house in the pottery path’s winding streets. The master’s house has an underground atelier with every corner filled with piles of old books and other undefined objects long forgotten. Thousands of bold and strange pottery items decorate every free space.

Whatever you create under the watching eye and helpful hands of the master will be fired and once finished sent to your home anywhere in the world.

A truly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience for real pottery fans.

You can learn more about this activity and book here.

Tokonyan, the Big Beckoning Cat Watching Over Tokoname.

Tokoname Tokonyan
Tokonyan overlooking Tokoname city

On the top of Manekineko Street, the giant head of a Manekineko called Tokonyan is overlooking the city. Another sign of Tokoname’s connection with the lucky cats, Tokonyan is a popular picture spot.

The Edo Period Takita Family Residence.

Tokoname Takita Family Residence
Takita family residence

During the Edo Period (1603–1868) the Takita family was responsible for the logistics of shipping locally produced pottery and other goods such as rice to the capital Edo.

It was a very lucrative business that afforded them a beautiful residence in Tokoname. The old building has been preserved and turned into a museum where you can learn more about the families’ history and the way pottery and other goods used to be shipped around the country.

Takita Family Residence (廻船問屋 瀧田家)
Entry Fee: 200 yen
Opening Hours: 9:30 – 16:30; closed Wednesdays
Address: 4-75 Sakaemachi, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0836
Google Maps

Dokanzaka, the Most Photogenic Spot in Tokoname.

Dokanzaka clay pipe hill

This slope called Dokanzaka or Clay Pipe Hill lined with Sake barrels and big pipes and plastered with broken pieces of ceramics might just be the most photogenic spot in Tokoname. 

Tarumi Hongu Shrine, Viewing Point on Top of Hongu Mountain.

Tokoname Hongu Shrine
Tarumi Hongu Shrine main hall

Tarumi Hongu Shrine is a little-noticed Shinto shrine and also a great lookout spot from which you can see Tokoname City from above. This shrine is a little away from the path, so if you don’t look for it carefully you might overlook it.

Tarumi Hongu Shrine (樽水本宮神社)
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Open 24/7
Address: Hasugaike Tarumi, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0801
Google Maps

The Biggest Climbing Kiln in Japan, an Impressive Construction Telling of a Different Time.

Chimneys of the climbing kiln

Built onto the hillside the Climbing Kiln with its 10 chimneys is the only one of its kind left in Tokoname. It is also recognized as the biggest climbing kiln in Japan.

The impressive kiln isn’t used anymore, mainly because of the environmental impact and the great effort necessary to fire it up. But there are still people in Tokoname today who remember a time when the kiln was used to produce beautiful pottery.

Get to Know the Pottery of the Edo Period at Tokoname Tou No Mori Museum.

Building of Ceramic Art Institute, image via Tokoname Tounomori

The Tokoname Art Institute incorporates the Tokoname Tou no Mori Museum displaying Edo Period redware and shallow tea bowls as well as the Tokoname Tou no Mori Togei Research Institute which functions as a training center for aspiring potters.

Tokoname Tou no Mori Museum (とこなめ陶の森資料館)
Entry Fee: free
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 17:00; closed Mondays
Address: 4-203 Segicho, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0821
Website | Google Maps

INAX Live Museum, A Huge Complex Dedicated to Pottery.

INAX Live Museum Kiln Plaza, image via Wikipedia

INAX Live Museum is a complex of six museums all dedicated to pottery in different ways.

The Kiln Plaza is located on the site of an old kiln constructed in 1921. This particular kiln used to be dedicated to the production of clay pipes. Not only the exterior is impressive but on the inside, you can find tools and machines used for the production of pipes as well as an informative video that shows how such a kiln used to be fired up for production.

At the Tile Museum, more than 1000 decorative tiles are on display as well as recreated tile-adornments from Mesopotamian civilizations over Egyptian tiles to Islamic architecture using tiles. This museum is dedicated to the history and development of decorative tiles around the world.

Clay Works is the place to learn about the raw material used in making pottery: the soil, and clay. At this building built from clay, you can experience the material hands-on through workshops. Try making your own shiny clay ball or clay pastel colors.

At the Architectural Terracotta Museum and Terracotta Park, you can experience the terracotta artworks popularly used in Japanese architecture of the early 1900s. It is an impressive collection on display inside as well as in an outside area.

At the LIXIL Ceramics Lab, you can learn about the history and future of craftsmanship. Recent projects range from the restoration of historic structures to the creation of new, innovative ceramics with the collaboration of artists, architects, and experts from various fields.

The Tiling Workshop is a place to express your creativity with clay. Different workshops are held here, including a mosaic art workshop, tile, and clock painting workshops, and strangest of all a mini toilet painting workshop.

INAX Live Museum (INAXライブミュージアム)
Entry Fee: free
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00; closed Wednesdays
Address: 1-130 Okueicho, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0823
Website | Google Maps

Learn How to Create Your Own Pottery Masterpiece at the Seiko Pottery Workshop.

Pottery class at Seiko Pottery Workshop

Around Tokoname you will find numerous studios offering workshops to create your own pottery. Many offer workshops to walk-in guests as well as to those who reserve in advance.

One of these places is the Seiko Pottery Workshop. During a 40-minute workshop for 3300 yen, you get 1 kilogram of clay to shape into a plate, cup, or bowl. Even though there are no workshops on offer in English following the instructions of the skilled teachers is easy as they will show you what to do.

Since pottery has to be burned before it is ready, you can’t take home your creation right away and delivery takes around one month. If you don’t plan on staying in Japan for that long you can take home someone else’s work and leave yours for someone else to pick up and enjoy in the future.

Chill Out at the Stylish Tokoname Store.

Interior of Tokoname Store, image via Tokoname Store

Another famous and very modern place to enjoy a workshop, buy some simplistic ceramics, or enjoy a delicious cup of coffee is the Tokoname Store located inside a repurposed warehouse.

Tokoname Store
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 18:00; closed Wednesdays
Address: 6-70-2 Haramatsucho, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0832
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Ceramall, Get Ready for Some Pottery Shopping!

Ceramic bowls at Ceramall, image via Ceramall Facebook Page

Countless shops selling all kinds of household wares are located along the Pottery Path. But for the biggest selection, you need to check out Ceramall. A shopping mall dedicated to ceramics. The top reasons to shop at Ceramall are the great prices, a wide selection of products, and the opportunity to do workshops or eat food served on Tokoname ware.

Ceramall (セラモール)
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00
Address: 99 Kamisuhara, Kanayama, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0003
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Participate in the Tokoname Pottery Town Walk & Studio Visit.

Tokoname Walking Tour
Tour group during Tokoname Pottery Town Walk & Studio Visit

The best way to experience the pottery of Tokoname is during a guided tour. The Tokoname Pottery Town Walk & Studio Visit introduces you to the highlights of Tokoname during a 3-hour walking tour.

Your guide will lead you past Manekineko Street, visit Takita Family Residence, take pictures of you at the most photogenic spots, and even take you to a studio where you can watch a professional at work.

Book your tour directly with us!

From Sweet to Savory. The Best Places to Eat in Tokoname.

Tokoname has a couple of cafes, restaurants, bars, and sake breweries worth checking out during your visit.

Try the Delicious Curries at Madoyama.

Curry lunch plate at Madoyama

Madoyama is the perfect restaurant if you are looking for a delicious lunch spot or an afternoon dessert. It is housed in an old wooden building but has been renovated with great care. The first floor is a little shop selling ceramics but also other decorative items.

Madoyama is specialized in curries that are served with rice and a fresh green salad. Make it a lunch set and choose between hot and cold coffee or tea and one of their delicious desserts.

Madoyama (マドヤマ)
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00
Address: 3-111 Sakaemachi, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0836
Google Maps

Try Nagoya’s Typical Eel Dish at Unagi no Nakamuraya.

If you haven’t had a chance to try Hitsumabushi (grilled eel on rice) in Nagoya, Unagi no Nakamuraya is a great place to try the dish. This little typical Japanese diner is located on the Pottery Footpath and is specialized in eel dishes.

Unagi no Nakamuraya (うなぎの中村屋)
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11:00 – 13:30, Weekends 11:00-15:30; closed Wednesdays
Address: 2-24 Okueicho, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0823
Google Maps

Have a Fresh Veggie Lunch at ni:no Homewares & Cafe.

Tokoname ni:no cafe
Lunch plate at Ni:no Cafe

Ni:no Homewares & Cafe serves a delicious lunch menu which includes one drink for only 1000 yen. The food is Western-inspired made with local products, and the fresh vegetables are the main protagonist. The lunch menu includes a starter, salad, and the main course accompanied by rice or bread.

The building has 2 floors. You will find the restaurant on the second floor with antique and very comfortable couches and chairs. The first floor is a store where you can find items such as women’s clothing, handbags, hats, furniture, decoration, and gardening items.

Ni:no Homewares and Cafe
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00; closed Thursdays
Address: 1-1 Togocho, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0835
Google Maps

Okuramochi’s Shaved Ice Is the Best Way to Cool Down in Summer.

Okuramochi Melon Kakigori, image via Okuramochi Facebook Page

Okuramochi is an extremely popular traditional Japanese sweets shop. They are specialized in different kinds of Wagashi. During summer they serve Kakigori shaved ice as well as other summary sweets at their cafe.

Fair warning, if you visit on a weekend you have to expect a long wait to get a seat at this beautiful traditional cafe overlooking a Japanese garden.

Okuramochi (大蔵餅)
Opening Hours: weekdays 9:00 – 18:00, weekends 9:00-18:30; closed Mondays
Address: 2-2-1 Koiehonmachi, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0838
Google Maps

Learn About Sony, Sake, and Soy Sauce at Morita Aji no Yakata.

Barrels at Morita Aji no Yakata, image via Guidoor

The Morita family has been producing Sake in Tokoname since 1665. They diversified into other fields such as Soy sauce and Miso production and have made a name for themselves over the years.

What many people don’t know is that Akio Morita the co-founder of the Sony Corporation comes from this Morita family and as the oldest of 4 children was expected to take over the business in Tokoname.

You can learn all about Morita and Akio Morita at the Morita Aji no Yakata, a beautiful old building housing a small museum, shop, and restaurant where you can try Miso-based dishes as well as Soy sauce soft-serve ice cream.

Morita Aji no Yakata (盛田味の館)
Opening Hours: weekdays 10:00 – 16:00; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Address: 10 Kosugaya Wakihama, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0807
Website | Google Maps

Learn How Sake Is Produced on the Sawada Brewery Tour.

Tokoname Sake Brewery Tour
Explanations about Sake on the Sake Brewery & Tasting Tour in Tokoname

Another famous Sake brewery with a long history (more than 170 years) is the Sawada Brewery. During a Sake Brewery & Tasting Tour in Tokoname, you can learn about the production process of Sake, tour the brewery, and sample different kinds of their famous Sake.

Don’t forget to buy the Sake you liked best to take home with you.

You can book this tour here on Nagoya is not boring.

Go Bar Hopping in Tokoname and Mingle With the Locals.

Tokoname Bar Hopping Night Tour
Tour participants having fun during the Bar Hopping Night Tour in Tokoname

If you want to experience Tokoname at night like a local, book a Bar Hopping Night Tour in Tokoname. Together with your local guide, you will visit two bars where you have the chance to try local dishes and drinks and mingle with the locals.

This tour is the perfect end to a perfect day in Tokoname. Book it here.

There and Back Again. Visit Tokoname From Nagoya.

Tokoname is easily accessible from Nagoya via Meitetsu train. The trains bound for Central Japan International Airport all pass through Tokoname Station. The one-way trip takes 30 minutes and costs 680 yen for a non-reserved seat. 

If you want to visit Tokoname from the airport take the Meitetsu line to Tokoname Station. It’s a 5-minute ride that costs 310 yen. Tokoname is actually an excellent place to visit if you have a long layover at Chubu Centrair International Airport.

If you want to know more about Chubu Centrair International Airport read our post about all the things you can do there.


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Best Spots for Hydrangea Viewing in Aichi

Hydrangea is a flower with a long history and tradition in Japan. Because of its beauty and special significance, Japanese people adore hydrangea flowers the same way that they do Sakura flowers during spring. 

If the plum blossom is the sign of early spring, hydrangea (Ajisai in Japanese) is a sign that summer is approaching. The hydrangea blooming season starts from the beginning of June and lasts until the middle of July, coinciding with the Japanese rainy season. Hydrangea blooms in various colors ranging from white, blue, turquoise, pale red to dark purple.

The Significance of Hydrangea in Japan

Hydrandreas

It is said that the history of the hydrangeas dates from the Nara period (710-794) when they began to appear in different poems of the period. Later, during the Edo period (1618-1868), the flower was honored by the Samurai due to its ability to change colors.

Hydrangea is a type of flowering plant with over 70 varieties native to the Americas and Asia. In Japan, the most famous native variety is the Hortensia Macrophylla, which grows in the wild all across Japan.

In Japanese, another name for hydrangea is Nanahenge, which means that it changes seven times. This is because the color of its petals change depending on the pH of the soil during its growth. Based on the pH of the soil, the color of the petals varies from dark blue, light blue, light purple, purple to white. That is why the flowers can look different every moment. The delicate and subtle combination of colors makes the hydrangea a beloved flower. This distinctive characteristic has given this flower a symbolic meaning in Japanese literature.

In Japanese poems and other artworks, the hydrangea represents a changing and fickle heart. Because the hydrangea can change color according to the environment, the meaning of hydrangea is also often associated with what is imperishable and immortal.

Generally, hydrangeas grow on the grounds of temples and shrines, gardens, parks, and riverbanks. Hydrangeas in full bloom are a striking display that you shouldn’t miss if you are in Japan during this season. Rainy days are the best time to enjoy the Ajisai. The petals look especially beautiful when they shine under the raindrops and morning dew.

Colorful Hydrangea Spots around Aichi

Enjoy Japan’s rainy season by viewing hydrangeas in full bloom!
We introduce our top recommendations to see hydrangeas around Aichi Prefecture.

Tsuruma Park (Nagoya) 

Tsuruma Park Hydrandreas
Close up view of a beutiful hydrangea flower in Tsuruma Park

Tsuruma Park is considered one of the 100 best places in Japan to see cherry trees (Sakura) in bloom. In addition to cherry blossoms, Tsuruma Park is also a great place to enjoy the hydrangea and Japanese iris flowers, which also bloom during this season. In the southern part of Tsuruma Park, next to the baseball field, a road called the Hydrangea Walkway has around 2,300 hydrangea flowers.

Tsuruma Park (鶴舞公園)
Best Time: Middle of June
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Address: 1-1 Tsurumai, Showa Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 466-0064
Access: Take the Tsurumai line or the JR Chuo line to Tsurumai station. From there, it is a 1-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Chayagasaka Park (Nagoya)  

Chayagasaka Park Hydrandreas
Chayagasaka Park hydrangeas. Image via nagoya-asoviva.com

Located in the eastern part of Nagoya is Chayagasaka Park, filled with 4,300 hydrangea flowers. The park is built around the Chayagasaka pond and has walking paths running through the park. The park makes a great place to escape from the city’s hustle and get some fresh air.

Chayagasaka Park (茶屋ヶ坂公園) 
Best Time: Middle of June
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Address: Shirutani Nabeyauenocho, Chikusa Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 464-0017
Access: Take the Meijo line to Chayagasaka Station. From there, it is a 7-minute walk.
Google Maps

Katahara Onsen Ajisai No Sato (Gamagori)

Katahara Onsen Hydrandreas
Katahara Onsen hydrangeas

Located in Mikawa Bay, Katahara Onsen is an area of hot springs well known for its large hydrangea garden called Ajisai no Sato or Hydrangea Village. Fifty thousand of these magnificent flower shrubs embellish the shore of the lake. And at nightfall, the garden lights up, giving a magical air to the already beautiful lake.

Katahara Onsen Ajisai No Sato (形原温泉 あじさいの里)
Best Time: Beginning to end of June
Light up: 17:00 – 21:30
Entry Fee: Adults 500 yen, free for children under 15 years
Opening Hours: 8:00 – 21:30
Address: Ichinosawa 28-1, Kanehiracho, Gamagori, Aichi 443-0102
Access: From Nagoya Station, take the JR Tokaido line to Gamagori station. During the Ajisai festival, you will find direct buses from Gamagori station to Mikawa Bay from the bus terminal.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Lagunasia Flower Lagoon (Gamagori)

Lagunasia Flower Lagoon
Lagunasia Flower Lagoon hydrangeas

Lagunasia Flower Lagoon is one of the Laguna Ten Bosch amusement park areas also located in Gamagori. This area is a flower garden where you can enjoy the hydrangea flowers divided into three zones: the Flower Fall or waterfall of hydrangeas, the Ajisai Virgin Road or the way of hydrangeas, and the Flower Sky, also known as the bridal flowers bouquet. Laguna Ten Bosch is a combination theme park, shopping facility, and spa facility that is fun for the whole family.

Lagunasia Flower Lagoon (ラグナシアフラワーラグーン) 
Best Time: Beginning to end of June
Light up: 17:00 – 21:30
Entry Fee: Lagunasia: adults 2,250 yen, elementary school students 1,300 yen, children from 3 years 800 yen
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00 (Varies depending on the area, season and day of the week)
Address: 2-3-1 Kaiyocho, Gamagori, Aichi 443-0014
Access: From Nagoya station, pick the JR train to Gamagori station. From there, you can take the free shuttle bus to the theme park.
Website | Google Maps

Mimo Jinja (Ichinomiya)

Mimo Jinja Hydrandreas
Mimo Jinja hydrangeas

This small shrine is very popular for its annual festival called Bisai Ajisai Festival. During this festival, more than 8,000 hydrangea shrubs from 70 different varieties bloom around the shrine.

And in addition to the flowering hydrangea bushes, every year, the Temizuya (a small basin of water located at the entrance to Shinto shrines where you can purify yourself before entering) is filled with colorful hydrangea flowers. The flower-filled water basin is a trendy location with thousands of people visiting every year to take pictures.

Mimo Jinja (御裳神社)
Best Time: Beginning to middle of June
Light up: 19:00 – 21:00
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 16:00
Address: 1145 Miyanishi, Sanjo, Ichinomiya, Aichi 494-0003
Access: Take the Meitetsu train to Ichinomiya or take the JR train to Owari Ichinomiya station. Ichinomiya station and Owari Ichinomiya station are connected. You can take the Metitestu “Q” bus from the stations and get off at the “Bisai Chōsha Zen” stop. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk.
Google Maps

Otsuka Shokaiji Temple (Inazawa) 

Otsuka Shokaiji Temple Hydrandreas
Otsuka Shokaiji Temple hydrangeas. Image via Inazawa Tourism website

Otsuka Shokaiji Temple is home to around 10,000 hydrangea flowers and several important cultural properties. Located a short train ride from Nagoya, this temple houses three important cultural properties: the main hall, pagoda, and Taho pagoda. The 10,000 hydrangea flowers are made up of roughly 90 different varieties.

Otsuka Shokaiji Temple (大塚性海寺)
Best Time: Beginning to middle of June
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 16:00
Address: 1-33 Otsuki Minami, Inazawa, Aichi 492-8214
Access: Take the Meitetsu train to Konomiya station. From there, it’s a 30-minute walk.
Google Maps

Honkoji Temple (Kota)

Honkoji Temple Hydrandreas
Honkoji Temple hydrangeas

Honkoji Temple is the family temple of the Fukozu-Matsudaira clan. It is also known as the Temple of Hydrangeas in Mikawa. Here about 10,000 hydrangea shrubs bloom around the temple, decorating it with different shades of pastel colors. During the festival of hydrangeas, the place has small stalls where they sell local products.

Honkoji Temple (本光寺)
Best Time: Beginning to end of June
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Address: 17 Fukamizo, Uchiyama, Kota-cho, Nukata-gun, Aichi 444-0124
Access: Take the JR Tokaido line and get off at Sangane Station. It’s a 5-minute walk from the station.
Google Maps

Hydrangea Road – Sanganesan Skyline (Nishio)

Sanganesan Skyline Hydrandreas
Sanganesan Skyline hydrangeas

The Sanganesan Skyline is a 5.1-kilometer-long scenic drive that runs along the ridge of Mount Sangane, from Nishio City to Katahara Onsen in Gamagori. Driving on this road allows you to experience beautiful panoramic views of the city of Gamagori and the sea.

With 70,000 hydrangeas blooming along the road, it is easy to understand why it is nicknamed the Ajisai Line. If the 70,000 hydrangeas along the roadside are not enough, another 10,000 are located around the parking area at the peak.

Hydrangea Road – Sanganesan Skyline   (あじさいロード三ヶ根山スカイライン) 
Best Time: June to July
Entry Fee: Motorcycle 280 yen, small vehicle 420 yen, microbus 1,100 yen, bus 1,760 yen
Opening Hours: 8:00 – 20:00
Address: Ushikorobi 49-1 Kanehiracho, Gamagori, Aichi 443-0102
Access: The skyline is only accessible by vehicle. You can reach the skyline in about 90 minutes from Nagoya.
Google Maps

Kokayama Kotokuin Temple (Toyoake)

Kotokuin Temple Hydrandreas
Kokayama Kotokuin Temple hydrangeas

Kokayama Kotokuin temple was moved from Koyasan (Wakayama Prefecture) to Aichi Prefecture in 1869. The temple is located in one of the areas famous for the Battle of Okehazama. The Battle of Okehazama took place on June 12, 1560, when 2,500 soldiers under the command of Oda Nobunaga defeated the 25,000 invading troops of Imagawa Yoshimoto.

The gardens around the temple are surrounded by large bamboo trees that make a mystical and spectacular landscape together with the hydrangea flowers.

Kokayama Kotokuin Temple (香華山 高徳院)
Best Time: Beginning to middle of June
Entry Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Address: Minamiyakata 3-2 Sakaecho, Toyoake, Aichi 470-1168
Access: From Nagoya Station, take the Meitetsu train to Chukyo Keibajomae. From there, it is a 5-minute walk.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


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Nishio City: Discover Delicious Matcha in a Little Kyoto Just Outside Nagoya

If you think that Matcha is only from Kyoto and you can only enjoy it there, then you are in for a big surprise. Matcha tea can be enjoyed across Japan. Three of the most famous tea-producing regions recognized for producing the best Matcha in Japan are Uji in Kyoto, Fuji in Shizuoka, and just a short train ride from Nagoya is Nishio in Aichi. 

Nishio is located roughly 40km south-east of Nagoya making it an easy day trip. It is one of the top sources of Matcha production, responsible for approximately 20% of the Matcha sold in Japan. There is a wide variety of green tea types but only the Tencha variety can be turned into Matcha. Unique among tea-producing areas in Japan, 90% of all green tea grown in Nishio is the Tencha variety.

A Brief History of Matcha Production in Nishio

Nishio Tea field
Nishio’s tea field

The origins of tea in Nishio date back to the 13th century when Shoichi Kokushi, a Zen Buddhist monk, founded the Jissoji Temple (1271) and began growing tea bushes on the temple grounds. At that time, Matcha was a well-known product both for its exquisite flavor and for its medicinal properties. It was without a doubt the favorite drink of priests and aristocrats of the time. Later, in the first years of the Edo Period (1603 – 1868), the cultivation of tea gradually extended to the entire region.

Matcha production in Nishio took off during the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), after Jundo Adachi, the main priest of the Koju-in temple brought with him tea seeds and production techniques from the city of Uji (Kyoto).

From the beginning of the 20th century, Nishio started focusing more exclusively on growing the Tencha variety of green tea, which is the raw material for Matcha powder. Nowadays 90% of the tea grown in Nishio is Tencha. It is the only city in Japan that specialized in Matcha production.

Top Things to See and Do In Nishio 

Nishio City History Park 

Nishio City History Park
Inside Nishio City History Park

The city of Nishio was once a well-fortified city. The original castle was built during the Kamakura Period in the 13th century and was called Saijo Castle. In 1585 after having captured the castle, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the famous unifier and ruler of Japan, had the castle strengthened and the name changed to Nishio Castle.

Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Nishio Castle was dismantled in 1872 and a park was created on its grounds. Two of the original gates were left intact and in 1996 some parts of the castle were reconstructed including a three-story Yagura watchtower and the Nishio City Historical Park was created. Further parts of the castle were reconstructed in 2014 and 2020. 

Nishio City History Park (西尾市歴史公園)
Entry Fee: free
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Address: 231-1, Kinjocho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
Website (Japanese only)| Google Maps

Former Konoe Residence

Former Konoe Residence
View of the Former Konoe Residence

In 1995, the former Konoe Residence was relocated from Kyoto to its current location on the grounds of the Nisho City Historical Park. The Konoe clan was a powerful and eminent family with a history dating back to the Heian Period (794 – 1185).

Despite being only part of what was once a much larger and more elaborate structure, the details of the craftsmanship and beauty of the ancient construction techniques can still be seen.

For a small fee, you can have Matcha in the tea house or while sitting on the terrace appreciating the landscape with the castle, the garden, and (when in season) the cherry trees as your background.

You can enjoy a bowl of Matcha along with a sweet for 400 yen.

Former Konoe Residence (旧近衛邸)
Entry Fee: free
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 (October to March, 9:00 – 17:00); closed Mondays
Address: 231-1 Kinjocho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
Website (Japanese only)| Google Maps

Nishio City Museum 

Nishio City Museum
Nishio City Museum

The museum has a collection of samurai swords and armors, maps of the original castle, and numerous historical clocks. Depending on the season, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, such as the exhibition of Japanese Hina Matsuri dolls in February.

Info: Nishio City Museum is closed for renovations until the end of September 2021

Nishio City Museum (西尾市資料館)
Entry Fee: free
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00; closed Mondays
Address: 229 Kinjocho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

Shokoso Garden

Shokoso Garden
Inside Shokoso Garden

After Nishio Castle was dismantled a garden was created utilizing some of the former castle walls. Shokoso Garden is located outside the Nishio City Historical Park partway between the park and Nishio Station. 

Shokoso Garden is a Kyoto-style dry landscape garden created at the beginning of the Showa era (1926 – 1989). An arbor is located on the hill offering views of the garden. Shokoso Garden has two tea houses that are rented out for various events. 

Shokoso Garden (尚古荘庭園)
Entry Fee: free
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00; closed Mondays
Address: 176-1 Kinjocho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

Kira Onsen

Kira Onsen

Located at the southern end of Nishio is the hot spring/beach area called Kira Onsen. The 570 meters of sandy beach is planted with palm trees that lend the area to being called Kira Waikiki Beach and gives the area a resort feel. The beach is equipped with showers and changing rooms. In late August each year, Kira Onsen hosted a Hawaiian Festival which attracts hula dancers from all over Japan.

Kira Onsen(吉良温泉)
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Address: Kiracho Miyazaki, Nishio, Aichi 444-0513
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

The Best Places to Find Matcha as Well as a Bite to Eat

Matcha Lab Nishio Idea Teahouse

Matcha Lab Nishio Idea Teahouse
Matcha Lab Nishio Idea Teahouse

If you want to try some great desserts made with Matcha then you need to visit Matcha Lab, which is located about a 10-minute walk from Nishio Train Station. Under the slogan “LOVE more MATCHA”, this small cafeteria reopened in February 2018 and offers a varied menu of sweets made with Nishio Matcha. This place is a perfect excuse to make a small stop along the way.

They specialize in gelato, with three different Matcha flavors as well as other delicious flavors such as strawberry, caramel, and chocolate. From their gelato, they make mouthwatering parfaits. You can choose between Matcha, Matcha & Caramel, and Matcha & Chocolate.

You can also order hot or iced tea drinks such as straight Matcha or Hojicha (roasted green tea), latte (mixed with milk and sugar), and soy latte (mixed with soy milk and sugar). This is the perfect place to relax for a couple of minutes.

Matcha Lab Nishio Denso Chaya (抹茶ラボ 西尾伝想茶屋店)
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00; closed Mondays (except National holidays)
Address: 122 Kinjocho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

Shokakuen

Shokakuen
Shokakuen Matcha’s set

Shokakuen is your best lunch option in Nishio if you want to eat something made from Matcha. Shokakuen serves a wide variety of Matcha sweets but also delicious Matcha Soba noodles either hot or cold together with Tencha rice (rice steamed together with the fragrant dried Tencha leaves). The volume of their dishes is surprisingly good and includes dessert.

Shokakuen Sabosayu (松鶴園 茶房茶遊)
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:00; closed Tuesdays
Address: Minamiarako-50-2, Nishio, Aichi 445-0894
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

Uotora

Uotora
Grilled eel, vegetables and rice set

If you prefer to try something that isn’t Matcha for lunch check out Uotora where you can try the other specialty of Nishio, Unagi. Unagi is a Japanese eel and is considered a delicacy. A big proportion of the eel raised in Japan comes from Nishio city.

At Uotora you can try this freshly caught eel in the form of Chameshi-unagama. A type of pilaf cooked with Nishio Tencha, eel, and vegetables.

Uotora (魚寅)
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00, 17:00 – 22:00; closed Thursdays
Address: 1-10 Yakushimae, Kamimachi, Nishio, Aichi 445-0894
Website |Google Maps

TSUTAYA Patisserie

TSUTAYA Patisserie
Matcha pudding

Located near the Nishio City Historical Park this bakery/cafe offers light sandwiches but its main draw is their desserts. If you are looking for a small snack then the cakes, tarts and parfaits they offer are a great option.

They offer multiple parfait options, but their seasonal parfaits are too good to pass up. Matcha parfaits are available from March to November and strawberry parfaits are available from November to May. 

TSUTAYA Patisserie (パティスリー ツタヤ)
Opening Hours: 08:30 – 20:00; closed Tuesday
Address: 3 Saiwaicho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0827
Google Maps

Katekindo

Katekindo
Matcha Green tea Katekindo

Located a short walk from the Nishio City Historical Park, this former Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) post office has been converted into a quirky little cafe. While only open three days a week (Friday – Sunday) this cafe is a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

The speciality of Katekindo is their Obanyaki which are cylinder-shaped sweets with Matcha dough on the outside and different kinds of fillings on the inside. You will find fillings like Matcha (Matcha and white bean paste filling), red bean paste, chocolate, and custard. We would recommend the traditional red bean paste version to anyone who isn’t sure what to choose. 

The shop also sells small Matcha crepes with custard, strawberries, and whip cream filling. In summer they also have shaved ice in a variety of flavors. You can either take your sweets to go or enjoy them at the tables inside the small shop. 

Katekindo (カテキン堂)
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00; closed Monday – Thursday (except National holidays)
Address: 4-11 Tsurugasakicho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0837
Google Maps

Unforgettable Festivals in Nishio All Year Round

Like most cities and towns across Japan, Nishio has a number of festivals during the year. The most famous/unusual as listed below, including one of the most dangerous fire festivals in all of Japan!

Mikawa Isshiki Lantern Festival

Mikawa Isshiki Lantern Festival
Giant colorful paper lanterns displa at Suwa Shrine

Being located along the sea, sea monsters are the terror of any community. For over 400 years to calm the sea monsters, giant lanterns are used to light up the night sky. There are six pairs of giant lanterns, each of which can be up to 10 meters tall. This annual festival takes place the last Saturday and Sunday of August at Suwa Jinja, a Shinto shrine located in Nishio.

In addition to the giant lanterns being lit up at night the area is filled with stands selling food and drinks, including Nishio Matcha.

Suwa Shrine (諏訪神社)
Festival date: Last Saturday and Sunday of August
Address: Miyazoe-129 Isshikicho Isshiki, Nishio, Aichi 444-0423
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

Tenteko Festival

Tenteko Festival
During the parade at the Tenteko Festival

On January 3rd every year the Tentenko Festival is held at Niike Hachimon Shrine in Nishio. The festival began in 859 when the rice fields in the area were chosen to grow the rice that Emperor Seiwa would use as his offering to the gods at Ise Shrine in Mie Prefrecture. The festival is now used to pray for a rich harvest.

Each year 6 unlucky men are clad in red costumes and have daikon radishes that have been carved into the shapes of phalluses, dangling from their backs, parade through town. Some of the men carry bamboo brooms and scatter ash as they walk. Having the ash fall on you is said to bring good luck in the following year.

Niike Shrine (熱池神社)
Festival date: January 3rd
Address: Nakagiri-12 Niikecho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0881
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

Nishio Gion Festival

Nishio Gion Festival
Men carrying a Mikoshi, a sacred shinto palanquin. Image via jre-travel.com

The Nishio Gion Festival has been held for over 400 years during the middle of July. A portable shrine holding the guardian deity of the city is carried from Ibun Shrine to Mitsurugi Hachimangu Shrine located on the grounds of Nishio Castle. It is said that if you pass under the portable shrine you will be blessed with good health. 

In addition to the procession of the portable shrine, the six main areas around the castle grounds each join the parade with their own performances including floats and a lion dance.

Nishio City History Park (西尾市歴史公園)
Festival date: Middle of July
Address: 231-1, Kinjo-cho, Nishio-City, Aichi 445-0864
Google Maps

Toba Fire Festival

Toba Fire Festival
Varius men climbing up a giant torch

Japan is famous for an abundance of fire festivals, but one of the most dangerous has got to be the Toba Fire Festival (designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property). This festival has been held for the last 1,200 years! It now takes place on the 2nd Sunday of February.

Two giant torches called “Suzumi,” each of which is 5 meters high and weighs 2 tons, are lit by two men (one each on the east and west sides) who are of an unlucky age. Then, brave participants wearing costumes made of old banners climb up on the burning Suzumi and compete to take sacred wood and twelve ropes out from the Suzumi. Finally, the men offer the sacred wood and twelve ropes to the gods. The results of the competition are used to divine the year’s weather and whether the harvest will be good or bad.

Toba Shinmeisha (鳥羽神明社)
Festival date: Second Sunday of February
Address: 89 Nishibasama, Tobacho, Nishio, Aichi 444-0704
Website (Japanese only)|Google Maps

How to Get Around Nishio

The center of Nishio is easily walkable from Nishio Station. English pamphlets are available at the Tourist Information Center right next to Nishio Station.

Information at the multiple sights and signs in Nishio are written in Japanese only, but they use a convenient translation app. Just scan the QR code on the signs and your smartphone will open a website with a short description in English.

A limited number of bikes are available for rent from the Nishio Tourism Office. Rental costs are 300 yen per bike for up to 3 hours and 500 yen per bike for rentals more than 3 hours. A 500 yen deposit per bike is required when renting the bikes. Please be aware that you need to return the bikes by 16:00 on the day you rent them. 

How to Get to Nishio

Since Nishio is only around 40 kilometers away from Nagoya it is a perfect day trip destination. The Meitetsu express train from Nagoya Station takes 50 minutes, costs 810 yen and leaves every 30 minutes.


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