Aichi is the biggest city in the Chubu region of Japan. It has over 7.5 million population, and the capital’s prefecture Nagoya is a business and transportation hub at the heart of Japan. It is easily reached from Tokyo in the Kanto region and Kyoto and Osaka in the Kansai region. Manufacturing is the main industry as the world-famous company Toyota has its headquarters in Aichi. The prefecture offers a number of entertaining spots for tourists to learn about the history and uniqueness of the region as well, including some beautiful castles.
And Aichi is getting more attention from international tourists especially because of the opening of Ghibli Park in November 2022!
Adding Aichi to your travel list will be a good idea, when you are traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto, you will easily make this prefecture a stopover! From Nagoya, you can also access the famous Nakasendo Route in the Kiso Valley.
In this article, we will introduce the top 10 things to do in Aichi prefecture.
1. Nagoya Castle
The beautiful Nagoya Castle is an iconic landmark in Nagoya city. It was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who opened the Tokugawa Shogunate and governed the whole country for about 260 years during the Edo era. Most of the original constructions were burned down by fire during WW2, but the main five-story castle tower was restored in 1959. The castle is visited by a number of tourists all year round but is especially popular in spring when the numerous sakura trees, including several weeping cherry trees, are in full bloom.
There is a special street called Kinshachi Yokocho just outside the gates of the castle. The newly opened tourist attraction contains many small shops, restaurants, and cafes standing along a cozy street. Visitors can enjoy local dishes and buy merchandise with a logo or pictures of the castle!
9 am – 4.30 pm
2. Osu Shopping District
The Osu area in Nagoya refers to a busy shopping district full of lively small shops selling a large variety of products. It was once a shopping arcade for local people but later revitalized as a center of modern fashion and other new cultures. With its unique features and welcoming atmosphere, it is becoming more popular among young generations and foreign tourists with over 1,200 shops and restaurants. Visitors can find common activities and spots including tasty local food and historical spots including “Osu Kannon”, a representative Buddhist temple in the area. Many events are held in the area throughout the year. In addition, Osu is a great place to learn more about Japan’s anime culture, manga, and more! It offers enjoyable experience for everyone regardless of age and backgrounds.
3. Inuyama Castle
Along with Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle is a famous historical spot in Aichi built in 1537. The samurai castle is listed among the 12 original castles in Japan and maintained the original main towers that were initially built in 1537. Inuyama Castle is one of Japan’s oldest surviving castles! It stands on a small hillside overlooking the Kiso River near the prefectural border between Aichi and Gifu. The surroundings boast plenty of nature which offers a peaceful atmosphere for visitors. The castle town nearby is full of well-preserved Japanese traditional buildings. In recent years, it has been attracting a number of tourists as a popular sightseeing spot where you can enjoy tasty dishes and find small gifts as well.
9 am – 5 pm
4. Meiji Mura
Meiji Mura is an unique theme park located in Inuyama city. It aims to contribute to preserving the valuable constructions and properties from the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods. There are a number of historical buildings moved and reconstructed there from the original location, and 16 of them are officially designated as Important Cultural Property. The third largest theme park in Japan, is visited by many tourists not only from overseas but by Japanese nationals because it is a great place for everyone to learn more about Japan’s history. Regular events are organised such as mystery solving attractions. Visitors can participate in the events and explore the park to get a clue to solve the mystery!
Opening Hours ~10 am – ~4 pm ※Opening hours vary for each month. Visit their website for details.
There are three islands that are popular among tourists as sightseeing spots in Mikawa Bay. One of them is Himakajima, also known as Octopus Island as it is famous for octopus, and blowfish. The entire island is included in the Mikawa wan Quasi-National Park. It is the closest island to Nagoya and is easily reached from the ports on the mainland. There are a variety of activities offering different kinds of entertainment, so it is all up to you how to spend time in the relaxing island resort! You can play with dolphins, unwind at a relaxing beach, try fresh seafood, or just take a stroll around the island while feeling the sea breeze.
6. Sakushima Island
Sakushima is another island located in Mikawa Bay. The basic concept is similar to Himakajima island, but it features a number of unique artworks which can be found everywhere on the island. Some of them are open-air exhibited, and visitors can take a picture and directly touch them for free. The artificial works create a photogenic scenery in harmony with the uninhabited nature around. It is also called “the island of cats”, so you might encounter cute wild cats while exploring the island. There are no traffic lights and convenience stores, and it feels like time goes by slowly on the island. There are some nice restaurants and cafes that serve refreshing drinks and lovely dishes with freshly caught seafood.
7. Senmi Shikizakura
Did you know there is a place in Japan where you can enjoy both autumn leaves and cherry blossoms at the same time? At Senmichi in Toyota city, you can see the pink cherry blossoms and red/orange maples in full blossom in autumn! Shikizakura is a special type of sakura that blooms twice a year; once in spring, and again just as the autumn leaves are peaking! At Obara Fureai Park you can watch over 10,000 special cherry trees. The slope of the hill is covered with about 1,200 cherry blossom trees, creating a beautiful combination of autumn-colored leaves and cherry blossoms. The sight becomes all the more spectacular when the branches wave in the wind all along the slope. The view is usually at its best from mid-November through early December, but the peak period varies somewhat from year to year.
8. Chubu Centrair International Airport
Chubu Centrair International Airport serves as a center for domestic and international flights which connects the region to other areas and countries around the world. It is relatively small compared to other main international airports such as Narita International Airport, making it a great alternative. There are a number of restaurants and shops offering local foods and special merchandise and it also offers an open-air observation deck where you can watch the airplanes taking off and landing. There is a observation public bath called Fu no Yu for you to enjoy. Watching the airplanes and the beautiful sunset from a public bath is a wonderful experience.
Close to the airport, you can find the Pottery Footpath. You can walk along the street with the unique scenery and learn the history of Tokoname Yaki pottery. Along the streets, you will see some cat statues including a big Maneki-neko (lucky cat). If you have to wait at the airport or decided to come to this area, this is a great place to visit!
9. Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
If you are looking for somewhere enjoyable for your family, Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium could be an option for you. It is one of the most famous aquariums in Japan and opened in 1992. It boasts a large collection of marine creatures over 500 species which are exhibited in various ways to entertain visitors. Visitors can enjoy exciting shows performed by large animals such as dolphins and killer whales at the huge tank. They also offer several informative events which enables visitors to learn about the marine ecosystems. It is an opportunity for kids to deepen their understanding of wildlife through interesting programs.
Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
9.30 am – 5.30 pm
10. Ghibli Park
Ghibli Park is the first theme park that features Studio Ghibli films which will open on November 1st, 2022. It’s located in the vast park which is the former venue of the 2005 Aichi Expo. There’s no ride like Disneyland, but you can enjoy the world of Studio Ghibli while walking around the area where the beloved Studio Ghibli films come to life!
There will be 5 areas featuring popular films, but first, they will open the 3 areas: Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, Hill of Youth and Dondoko Forest.
Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse features popular Ghibli films and the studio’s secret with some shops, cafes, and exhibitions. Hill of Youth is inspired by Whisper of the Heart, and Dondoko Forest is inspired by My Neighbor Totoro. In 2023, other 2 areas featuring Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle will open.
Booking a ticket for the designated date and entrance time beforehand is required. Also, you’ll need to book a ticket for each area. Please note that there’s no ticket available at the entrance. You can get a ticket at Boo-Woo Ticket or you can book a package with accommodation at major travel agencies.
Food to try
Nagoya has a unique food culture called “Nagoya Meshi”, and “Misokatsu” is what you shouldn’t miss once you visit there! The deep-fried pork cutlet with miso sauce offers an unforgettable taste even for those who have never tried it before. The rich miso taste goes well with white rice which is often served all together at local restaurants. The miso sauce is slightly sweet, so it is recommendable for kids who don’t like spicy food. There are a number of Misokatsu restaurants around the city, so please find your favorite and enjoy the specialty in Nagoya!
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan.
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots!
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if yu have any questions or need some help!
▶Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides!
▶Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.
▶Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.
Where to stay in Aichi
- Nagoya Prince Hotel Sky Tower – 13 minutes walk away from Nagoya station and easy access to the sightseeing spots, night view over the city from the room is stunning.
- Akariya Geihanro – Beautifully designed ryokan with onsen hot spring, Japanese style suite room with river view or castle view will be recommended to book.
- Ryokan Syuku Kaifu – This ryokan is located along the coast and it offers an open-air onsen hot spring with magnificent view of the ocean. Relaxing bath time at sunset or under the full of stars would be the best experience of your trip.
Aichi is where nature and historical sites coexist with the urbanized areas. With easy access and a wide variety of features, it offers fun and memorable experiences for everyone.
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