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Aichi is the birthplace of many famous samurai, including Tokugawa Ieyasu. There are many places associated with the history of the samurai, including the magnificent Nagoya Castle, which is the largest in Japan, and the National Treasure Inuyama Castle. The Tokugawa Art Museum houses the treasures of the Owari Tokugawa family, the former owners of Nagoya Castle. Don't miss the samurai culture exhibits, including swords that are National Treasures. Every day at Nagoya Castle, you can meet performers in the role of famous samurai from Aichi, and the legendary Hattori Hanzo and the Ninjas who protected Tokugawa Ieyasu. Back in Nagoya, Atsuta Shrine is one of Shintoism’s most important sites, and home to the legendary Kusanagi sword of the Imperial Regalia.

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Aichi has been a center of industry since the time of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan. Today, this spirit lives on in the Aichi manufacturing industry, represented by Toyota Motor Corporation. A visit to Aichi is a prime opportunity to discover the old and the new of Japanese technology like nowhere else. The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology showcases this, the history of the Toyota Group, which has evolved dramatically from textile machinery to the automotive industry, and is now one of the world's leading automakers, is on display. Other must-visits for car enthusiasts include the Toyota Kaikan Museum with its factory tours and the Toyota Automobile Museum. The SCMAGLEV and Railway Park also shows off Japanese transport technology, being devoted to all things bullet train and beyond. Aichi has its share of heritage industries too. There are two of the Six Ancient Kilns in Aichi, located in Seto City and Tokoname City. Pottery from Seto City was so iconic in its heyday that Seto-yaki became a byword for Japanese ceramics in general. Tokoname pottery is famous for its unglazed red teapots.

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Beyond the urbanism of Nagoya and industry of Toyota, Aichi is also blessed with the abundant natural beauty of the mountains and the sea. The allure of Aichi’s nature is timeless and classically Japanese. There you can see rare shikizakura cherry trees that bloom twice a year, in spring and in autumn. In autumn, you can enjoy both cherry blossoms and autumn leaves at the same time in Obara. Another seasonal national pastime is momijigari (leaf peeping), and Korankei Gorge is one of Japan’s best spots for admiring crimson and gold autumn leaves. Offshore, Aichi’s islands such as Himakajima, Shinojima, and Sakushima are known for their seafood, sunsets, and art installations.

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To most people, Japanese food means sushi, ramen, and maybe kaiseki. Aichi though has a cuisine all of its own, hard to find elsewhere, which is named Nagoya-meshi after the prefectural capital. Aichi loves miso, especially the local specialty hatcho miso. Aged longer for a richer taste, it’s better suited to cooking than more common varieties and is used extensively in Nagoya-meshi. Miso cutlet and miso-stewed udon are two must-try ways to enjoy the local taste. Hitsumabushi is the Aichi way to enjoy eel — char-grilled and glazed, then served over rice and eaten in a particular style: first as-is, then with condiments, then or with soup stock or tea, and finally as you choose. Tebasaki are super crispy Aichi-style chicken wings, deep-fried twice and slathered in a sweet and spicy sauce. On the drinks side, matcha powdered green tea is another pride of Aichi. Today, Nishio City is one of the major production centers of matcha in Japan, and there are many places there where you can drink matcha and eat sweets made from it.

GETTING THERE

Aichi Prefecture is at the center of Japan and well connected by the Tokaido Shinkansen that runs through it. Nagoya Station is about 35 minutes from Kyoto, 50 minutes from Osaka, and 100 minutes from Tokyo by Shinkansen. Book Shinkansen tickets here > Chubu Centrair International Airport is Aichi’s international gateway, with direct flights from Frankfurt, Helsinki, Honolulu, Detroit, and across Asia. Centrair connects with Nagoya in as little as 28 minutes with the Airport Express Train “μ-SKY.”

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