Most Filipino tourists skip Nagoya or the Aichi Region in general and usually do the three city circuit of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Even in my first trip to Japan last July 2015, I essentially followed this circuit, entering Tokyo and exiting Osaka within 8 days. Good thing that with flights from Manila to Nagoya, exploring this city and its region is easy and convenient. Although it’s a big region and still so much to do, allow me to show you ten places that you can easily visit and get a glimpse of this interesting central area of Japan.
1 Explore Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle is one of the historic castles around Japan and was built on the orders of Ieyasu Tokugawa to secure a vital road and fend off attacks from Osaka. Construction was done in 1612. Unfortunately, most of the buildings were consumed by fire during World War II when Americans bombed the city. Only parts of the gate, and fortunately, the priceless paintings at the sliding doors were spared. Reconstruction works of the lost buildings is currently ongoing. Other than exploring the palace grounds and buildings, catch the Omotenashi Bushotai troupe who entertains visitors and their period Samurai performance is one of the highlights in the castle. Check them for schedules.
1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya
Aichi Prefecture 460-0031, Japan
2 The unique houses of Shirakawa-go
It’s just stunning! The sight of these gassho-zukuri (means, like hands in prayer) farmhouses down the valley as seen from the viewdeck is a memory to be remembered. Much more if you time your visit during winter when all around its white and the famrhouses are jutting out from the blanket of snow. The town of Shirakawa-go and its neighbor, Gokayama have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1995 because of the unique culture and architecture of these farmhouses, with some as old as 250 years old. It’s actually an adaptation, steeply inclined roofing made of grass specifically to prevent snow from accumulating and collapsing the house.
Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
3 Relive One Piece manga at Laguna Ten Bosch
Laguna Ten Bosch is a wide and expansive theme park in Gamagori and for most manga loving Filipinos, will find it appealing as it is where they can relive and enjoy One Piece, that very popular anime show. Ride on a boat cruise aboard the Thousand Sunny, or buy One Piece souvenirs at the shop. For children and family, the theme park offers various rides and there are nightly 3D projections.
Laguna Ten Bosch
〒443-0014 Aichi-ken, Gamagōri-shi
海陽町Kaiyōchō, 2 Chome−２−3−1
4 Toyota Plant and Museum
It’s a city and it also has one of its car assembly plants making Lincoln and high end sedans here in Toyota City. Of course, I’m talking about Toyota, the car maker and we visited this particular plant, where it all started. You not only get a glimpse of the history of this car maker but also witness its process of making cars, from parts to finished product! It’s a fascinating visit and looking at all those high tech processes plus the human factor makes you admire the car maker more.
Plant tour & Toyota Kaikan Museum
1 Toyota-cho, Toyota, Aichi, 471-0826 Japan
5 Festival in Takayama
I just love this city! I love its traditional Japanese house architecture that line the Takayama Historic district. It’s wide and pristine river with all those carps and fishes plus wild ducks swimming around. And during the Spring and Autumn Festivals when the various yatais, elaborate antique processional carts are all taken from their storage and line the streets for the evening procession, you get a very unique experience! Add to that the many pleasurable street food that line the street leading to the main temple and the vibrant market along the river bank and, wow! It can be overwhelming. But of course, when in Takayama, you have to taste hida beef, the pride of the region.
6 Fruit Picking in Gifu
It was October last year when we first visited Nagoya and we were just in time for the orange fruit picking in Gifu. At first I thought that we will be climbing orange trees but when we actually arrived at the orange grove, the trees were actually just around 5 feet in height and already heavy with fruit. For a fee, you are given a basket, enter the grove and just start picking! A twist here and there and off the fruit goes from the branch. You can pick and eat as much as you can. We were even amazed that the one guiding us was a Filipina and the first thing she said to us was: Good morning poh!
Gamagori Orange Park
1-93 Ogurimi, Seida-cho, Gamagori, Aichi 443-0002
7 Sample Village Iwasaki
I’ve always admired looking at those food samples whether you are in the foodcourt in the country or at several restaurants around Japan. Almost lifelike and delicious food that you would be forgiven to think it’s edible. But these are made of different colored wax and get to make these stuff at the Sample Village Iwasaki, where it all started. It’s actually fun as we made our own wax cabbage, shrimp tempura and many more. At first, it’s a bit challenging but learning the technique of making these wax food samples is actually easy. It’s a fun way to experience quirky Japan.
READ MORE: Its fun making fake food in Japan
8 Insect Museum in Takayama
I didn’t expect to visit my first insect museum as it wasn’t part of our itinerary while in the Aichi Region. But it was at a lunch stopover in Takayama for hida beef and this insect museum was just a few feet away. Of course, I am a beetle and butterfly enthusiast and entering into this beautiful world was heaven for me! Showcased are insects, but mostly beetles and butterflies from around the world, including from the Philippines. I was amazed at the colors, the different sizes and species that they exhibited!
9 Shopping at the Toki Premium Outlets
Just imagine, 140 shops, local and international brands in one place in an architecture that reminds you of being in Colorado. It’s a large enough facility where you can shop all day! The discerning shopper has lots of brands and shops to chose from and there’s a big enough restaurant area with various stalls selling Japanese and international fare.
Toki Premium Outlets
1-2 Tokigaoka, Toki City, Gifu
10:00am – 8:00pm
10 Osu Shopping District in Nagoya
Its where tradition and modernity meet, religion and materialism. Osu Shopping District (or Street) has existed for more than 400 years in conjunction with the existence of Osu Kannon, that big red temple at the start of the street which was relocated to this site in 1612. It’s a big market selling almost everything from food to fruits, from apparel to toys, to high quality second hand stuff. Due to its location, where festivals around the temple’s schedule are celebrated, it’s also a magnet for performers and dai do gei, Japanese street performers who gathers a following in the many venues, usually open lots around the district.
Osu Shopping District
Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0011, Japan
Thanx to Cebu Pacific Air for this trip!
Cebu Pacific Air, the leading airline in the Philippines, flies between Manila and Nagoya (Chubu Centrair International Airport) every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.. Book your flights through the CebuPacificAir.com. For updates and seat sale announcements, check out www.facebook.com/