Okazaki: the Home of the First Tokugawa Shogun
Okazaki is an old castle town located close to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, Central Japan. It is famous for its delicious eggs and for being the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun of Japan.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The same can be said for Okazaki. When in Okazaki eat Okazaki tamago. The residents of Okazaki love their local eggs which are said to be some of the best in Japan. A must try local dish is Omuraisu (a Japanese style omelette made with fried rice). The omelette is made with fresh local eggs. It is a simple dish that is extremely tasty.
Okazaki is also famous for being the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the most important figures in Japanese history.
Tokugawa Ieyasu was a samurai warlord who completed the unification of Japan and founded the Tokugawa Shogunate, which virtually ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
Next year, 2016 will be the 400 year anniversary of the death of Tokugawa Ieyasu on June 1 1616. To celebrate the amazing life and achievements of this famous samurai and shogun, the city of Okazaki has a lot of events to celebrate the great man.
Tokugawa Ieyasu is believed to have been born in Okazaki Castle, which is the first place we will explore on our tour of Okazaki.
Okazaki Castle was originally built in 1455 and was captured by the Tokugawa clan (then known as the Matsudaira clan) in 1524. The castle served as the seat of the Okazaki Domain until the Meiji Restoration. The castle is Okazaki’s main attraction and is best known for its association with Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Tokugawa clan.
The castle played an important role during the age of samurai in Japan as it was on the famous Tokaido road, which connected Kyoto with Edo (modern-day Tokyo).
The castle is very underrated as a tourist destination and I’m surprised that it is not more well-known than it is. Inside the castle there are some good displays of samurai armour and weapons as well as the history of the castle and local area.
Next stop on our tour is Okazaki Park, a beautiful wooded park surrounded by fern-covered stone walls and moats of the old castle. The park is one of the best spots in spring for the famous cherry blossoms, especially at night when they are beautifully lit. The park contains many statues, including a bronze statue of surprise, surprise, the man himself, Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The park also contains various shrines, an ancient teahouse and a famous well, which reportedly was used to draw Tokugawa Ieyasu’s first bath.
The biggest draw card these days are the warlords dressed in their samurai armour who wander around the park to entertain the tourist. They make for a great photo opportunity and you can watch them perform twice a day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Daijuji Temple is the last stop on our tour of Okazaki. The temple was Tokugawa Ieyasu’s family temple and contains the graves of his ancestors. The temple was founded in 1475 and it was here that Ieyasu came after his defeat at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560. It is believed that Ieyasu originally planned seppuku (ritual suicide) before the graves of his ancestors, but was persuaded otherwise by the priest Toyo. Ieyasu found new hope in life here and went on to great deeds and feats in the coming years.
Okazaki, a former castle town on the important Tokaido road in Japan is a fascinating city that allows you a glimpse into the life and times of one of Japan’s most famous and important historic figures.
From Tokyo take a Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya and then take the JR Tokaido Line to Okazaki. Okazaki is only a short 30 minutes from Nagoya.