The Perfect Balance Between Urban and Nature
By Graham Van Zwoll
On January 23, 2016
Aichi Prefecture is located right near the very center of Japan, and was greatly valued by the Shogunate as a strategic point of the Tokaido Highway. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun, actually hails from the Okazaki area and his home castle, Okazaki Castle, is still a popular location for many tourists. It hosts large hanami (flower viewing) and firework festivals every year.
Today, Aichi has a thriving population of just below 7.5 million, and boasts one of the most fantastic balances between urban development and natural beauty in the country.
When we think about Aichi, one of the first names that comes to mind is Toyota Motor Corporation. The automobile giant is based in Toyota city, and enjoys a powerful presence in the industry, as well as in the garages and parking lots of local residents. Of course, Aichi is not just about sparks and steel. Seto City boasts Setomono, the name given to it’s famous local ceramics, and for tea appreciators out there, Nishio city in southern Aichi is the number one producer of macha, the powdered green tea used in tea ceremony, in the entire country.
Furthermore, Aichi is also home to the historical Nagoya Castle as well as other attractions including the breathtaking Sangane Mountain Skyline, wondrous Korankei Valley, as well as Takeshima, the island of the Gods, and all are enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. Inuyama, just north of Nagoya, is home to a number of famous tourist sites, including a fully restored historical castle which was privately owned until very recently and an open-air architectural museum called Meiji-Mura.
Traveling to and from Aichi is simple and convenient. Chubu “Centrair” International Airport offers flights to the rest of Japan and most of Asia as well and is just a short train ride south of Nagoya. For those who prefer to stay on land, the Tokaido Shinkansen from Nagoya Station can take you to Tokyo in 1 hour and 40 minutes, and to Osaka in less than 50 minutes. And of course, an extensive train network, several more Shinkansen stops, subways and buses are also available to help you reach your destination.
Aichi has a large number of English schools, and a foreign community of nearly 200,000. With numerous organizations and groups that are set up to encourage international interaction in larger cities like Nagoya, there are many resources that could help make your transition a smoother one.
After work and on weekends, you can have lots of fun on Aichi’s nice beaches (especially along the Chita and Atsumi Penninsulas), within its energetic cities, and also in the stands of its professional baseball, soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams’ matches. Nagoya has lots of other exciting places to visit, including the world’s largest planetarium at the Nagoya City Science Museum, and the Tokugawa Art Museum, a privately owned and hereditary collection of historical artifacts. And Ghibli enthusiasts might already know that Satsuki and May’s house from “My Neighbor Totoro” can also be found within the prefecture.
When it’s time to eat, choose from a mouthwatering selection of the prefecture’s famous miso and pork, or ankake spaghetti, along with a variety of other international and local cuisine as well. Chicken wing fans beware, Nagoya is the home of “Sekai no Yamachan”, where you will be hard pressed to stop eating their famous wings. If curry is your thing, make sure to visit “CoCo Ichibanya”, one of Japan’s most popular curry chains that originated in Ichinomiya, Aichi.
Although Nagoya, the capital city of the prefecture, is one of Japan’s main cities, Aichi does not receive the amount of attention it deserves. For those who enjoy pleasant drives, comfortable living, and a good balance of the urban and the natural, definitely look into Aichi as one of your options.
Happy travels and exploration.