Aichi Prefecture is located in the Chubu Region of Central Japan with Nagoya its biggest and best known city. Nagoya is Japan’s fourth largest city and the capital and economic hub of Aichi Prefecture. It is also a gateway for travel in Central Japan and a great base for exploring the nearby area. Nagoya is unfortunately often overlooked as just a stop on the Tokaido Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, but is an interesting modern, cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer for the keen traveller. In this article, I’m going to highlight some of my favourite places in Aichi that are extremely fun, so I hope you can add them to your list the next time you are in Central Japan.
Nagoya City Science Museum
Photo : inefekt69 on Flickr
The Nagoya City Science Museum is located in the Sakae area of Central Nagoya. It is one of the world’s best science museums and houses the largest planetarium in the world. The Museum has three main sections on modern technology, life sciences and general sciences. The motto of the museum is “Watch, Touch and Discover” and it certainly lets you do this with various hands-on exhibits that let you explore, learn and discover. Another fun aspect is the touch-screen tablets utilized with other technology that let you learn about space and modern technology on the upper floor. Who thought that science could be so fun and exciting!
Photo : Marufish on Flickr
Nagoya Castle is one of Japan’s “Three Famous Castles” and was for over 350 years, the biggest, best designed and most gorgeous castle in all of Japan. Nagoya Castle was in fact more stunning and better preserved than that of the famous Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture. Unfortunately, most of the original castle was destroyed in World War II with the current main keep a 1959 concrete replica. The castle located in the heart of Nagoya is still spectacular with several corner towers and gates still original and important cultural assets. It is worth a visit alone for its interesting museum featuring samurai armour, treasures and histories of the three great unifiers of Japan, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
138 Tower Park
Photo : Japan Australia on Flickr
138 Tower Park in Ichinomiya City near Nagoya is a beautiful public park with the tallest arch-style tower in Asia at 138 meters tall. The tower offers spectacular panoramic views of the nearby area, Kiso Valley and peaks of the Japan Alps. The park is free to enter and has a lot of interesting things for the whole family. Highlights include a rose garden with 4,000 perpetual roses, seasonal flowers such as cosmos, tulips, hyacinths and poppies, and some of the best cherry blossoms in Aichi Prefecture. A great time to visit is in December for the winter illuminations, when the park is decorated with around 500,000 lights creating a spectacular scene to enjoy the festive season in Japan.
Little World Museum of Man
Photo : Toby Oxborrow on Flickr
The Little World Museum of Man in Inuyama City is a unique open air museum dedicated to the world. You can walk around a 2.5 km road in the theme park that will transport you around the world without the need of a passport or the expense of a plane ticket. The open air museum features reconstructed traditional houses from around the world and some tasty ethnic food and drink to accompany them. There are 33 different buildings from 22 countries to check out and enjoy. Exploring the different countries and cultures represented here is a lot of fun, but you can take the experience to the next level by dressing up in traditional costumes as well. It is a fun experience for all.
Photo : chikache_ on Flickr
Laguna Gamagori is a marine resort complex in Gamagori City in the Bay of Mikawa. The main allure of Laguna Gamagori is its theme park called “Lagunasia” with various attractions and swimming pools. The theme park is designed to be a Mediterranean port town facing the Adriatic Sea and offers thrilling rollercoasters as well as fun rides and attractions for kids of all ages. The highlight is the six swimming pools which open in summer and make for a perfect summer escape from the heat of Japan. The various pools include a big wave pool, a river pool at 230 meters long and two high water slides. If rides aren’t your thing, you can always enjoy the many other facilities of the resort which include a Festival Market with shopping mall and restaurants, Laguna Spa natural hot springs featuring mineral-rich spa waters from the ground below, and Laguna Marina, the largest marina in Central Japan for a large range of marine sports and cruising.
Aichi Prefecture is one of the most fun places to visit in Japan with everything from historic castles to modern museums and theme parks. I hope you will visit this amazing place on your next trip.
Nagoya and Aichi Prefecture is easily reached via the Tokaido Shinkansen which passes through Toyohashi and Nagoya on its way from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka. Nagoya is only a short 100 minute Shinkansen ride away from Tokyo and about a 60 minute ride from Osaka.