Castles, Shoguns and Family Fun on a Day Trip to Okazaki

ByBert Wishart
Sep 30, 2022

Castles, Shoguns and Family Fun on a Day Trip to Okazaki

While the goings on in Aichi Prefecture are regularly dominated by the capital, long before the construction of Nagoya Castle, Okazaki was one of the great seats of regional power. Today, just a brief 30-minute train journey from Nagoya, Okazaki is not only a region steeped in remarkable history, but with areas of outstanding natural beauty, delicious local food, and fun spots for all the family, it is also a wonderful place to visit for a day trip.

Witness the majesty of Okazaki Castle

Located on the Tokaido Road that linked Kyoto with Tokyo, Okazaki was an important city during the Warring States era (1467–1615), and Okazaki Castle was the center of this importance. Built at the behest of  Matsudaira Kiyoyasu after he took control of the area in 1524, the castle was the birthplace of Kiyoyasu’s grandson. This boy would become the ruler of all of Japan, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

As such, all around the castle, you can find points of great historical importance, such as the well from which Ieyasu’s first bath was drawn and numerous statues of the great man, making it a must-see for anyone with interest in samurai history. Though the original castle was demolished in 1873 following the edicts of the Meiji Government, the donjon was reconstructed in 1959, and the castle’s original foundation, stone walls, and moats remain today. The rebuilt structure has five interior floors and three roofs, with exhibits of relics from the original castle, including samurai armor, Japanese swords, and dioramas illustrating local history, gaining it the status as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Castles in 2006.

Where: 561-1 Kōseichō, Okazaki (map)

Luxuriate in nature at Okazaki Higashi Park and Zoo

On the grounds of what was once the castle, Okazaki Park is a spot for all seasons. You can enjoy views of cherry blossoms and Japanese wisteria along the Oto River in spring, nearly unparalleled in the region; Okazaki Park is listed among “Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots.” As beautiful as that is, even more striking is the Gomangoku wisteria, the official flower of Okazaki, which covers 1,300 square meters and, when lit up during festival evenings – April 20 to May 6 – makes for a dramatic sight. It is also well worth visiting during the autumn when the leaves begin to change. Trees fill the park, line the Oto River, and surround the castle.

If you have small kids, why not treat them to a trip to the zoo? You can find monkeys, elephants, deer, flamingoes, miniature horses, and prairie dogs free to enter. Furthermore, at the petting zoo, you can get to know the sheep, guinea pigs, and other small animals up close and personally. Another point to note is the “Great Iyeasu Kou Aoi Bushoutai” warlords strutting around the park to entertain tourists in their armor. You can take photos with them, or watch their show.

Where: Okazaki, Kakemachi, Oyamada−1 (map)

Get historical at The Ieyasu And Mikawa Bushi Museum Okazaki

The Iyeyasu And Mikawa Bushi Museum OkazakiWithin Okazaki Castle and Okazaki Park is a museum dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu and the famed warriors of central Japan, the Mikawa Bushi. Mikawa Bushi was the collective name of the region’s warriors, a title worn with great pride. The Museum is split into sections chronicling the rise and influence of Shogun Tokugawa Iyeyasu

The museum itself is small but is well supplied with artifacts. Although foreign visitors are supplied with an English brochure on admission, the exhibits themselves are unfortunately displayed in Japanese only. General admission is 350 yen or 500 yen if you choose to include entrance to the Castle with your ticket.

Where: 561-1 Koseicho, Okazaki (map)

Taste the purity of Hatcho Miso

Miso is an essential ingredient of Japanese food, so Okazaki is hugely proud of its Hatcho miso. Taking its name from a nearby village, Hatcho miso is a pure soya bean miso produced in the region for generations.

Today you can wander down the old walkways of Hatcho Street, taking in the classical aura of the area, visit one of the two distilleries that still traditionally produce Hatcho miso, and marvel at Kakukyu Miso Storage. The latter has been in operation for over two centuries, where each big cedar wood keg stores up to six tons of miso, with two tons of stone piled on them, they are left to ferment for two years. If you want it done, you might as well do it right!

Where: Ōdōri-44-1 Hatchōchō, Okazaki (map)

Get a pizza the action at Izakaya ja Nai

There are loads of great places to eat and drink with sushi restaurants, izakayas, and expat bars lining the main street outside of Meitetsu Okazaki Station. However, take a slight detour off that main strip,p and you will find the city’s best ba; anddhasg been going for more than 20 years, they have been doing something right!

Burgers, buffalo wings, nachos, Izakaya ja Nai have some tremendous western food, but their Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is the best on the menu. The cheese is creamy, and the tomato sauce is rich, and it is so good that Chicago natives even acclaim it. It is recommended that you pair it with one of their six draft beers on tap, which at 700 JPY each, it’s about the cheapest you’ll find in Aichi!

Where: 4 Chome-69-1 Myodaiji Honmachi, Okazaki (map)

Image: via wikicommons – public domain
Image: by Bong Grit via [CC BY-SA 2.0] – Modified
Image: by Bong Grit via [CC BY-SA 2.0] – Modified
Image: by Bong Grit via [CC BY-SA 2.0] – Modified

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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