The city of modernity and history

Aichi Prefecture is located in the Chubu region of central Japan. Aichi Prefecture borders Mie Prefecture, Gifu Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, and Shizuoka Prefecture. To the south is the Pacific Ocean and the Ise and Mikawa bays and there are a number of interesting small islands and beaches close to Nagoya to visit along the coast.

Aichi is a densely populated, mixed industrial and agricultural prefecture with its prefectural capital Nagoya - Japan's 4th largest city after Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka. Nagoya and its surrounding towns and cities have a population of around 10 million inhabitants.

17% of the total land area of Aichi Prefecture has been designated as Natural Parks. These include Aichi Kogen, Hida-Kisogawa, Mikawa Wan and Tenryu-Okumikawa Quasi-National Parks plus seven Prefectural Natural Parks.

Aichi has the typical weather patterns of central Honshu with hot, humid summers with temperatures in the prefecture usually topping 30 degrees Centigrade or more in July and August. Nagoya has the reputation of being one of the hottest places to be in Japan in mid-summer.

"If you understand Aichi, then you understand Japan". It's a simple proposition. No part of Japan is more representative of this fascinating country's past and present, or its strengths and weaknesses than the Chubu area, and Aichi Prefecture in particular. Images of Aichi, like the images of the region held by many of its own residents, at first appear to be a mass of contradictions. Compact, sprawled, rich, frugal, colorful, remote, delicious, bizarre, conservative, clever, modern, historic, futuristic, urban, increasingly cosmopolitan but often proudly & unapologetically inaka. Yet Aichi is the leading edge, whenever it changes, so does Japan.

Due in large part to Nagoya and the satellite cities such as Ichinomiya, Toyota, Okazaki and Toyohashi that together with Nagoya comprise Japan's third largest urban area, Aichi has a very metro image. In many ways, Aichi Prefecture is both more high tech and yet more liveable than Tokyo, more efficient and businesslike and yet a little "nonbiri" and relaxing compared to Osaka. Host of the 2005 World Expo, and home to a massive metropolitan area of nearly 7 million people, one of the mysteries of Aichi is that somehow much of it is still largely unspoilt and rustic. It takes time to cover, but Aichi includes everything - rugged alpine scenery in the national parks with excellent hiking opportunities, deep gorges, historic castles and battlefields, beautiful thatched roof houses in valleys that time appears to have forgotten, remote but fascinating senmaida, plus some of Japan's best surf beaches, as well as its bustling and rich cities.

Aichi has a conservative image, as a place where traditions are still strong, and where artists, designers and craftspeople remain as respected today as in the era of the Tokaido. The makers of traditional crafts and products including the master potters of Seto and Tokoname - 2 of Japan's 6 ancient kiln centuries are in Aichi, the makers of fireworks, arrows, stoneworks, washi paper, candlemaking, and buddhist altars etc continue to enjoy enormous respect (and market share) - and yet this is in the heartland of a region that with only 13% of Japan's population, produces more than 20% of its GDP, with bustling ports and cutting edge research institutes (new window).

Aichi is where Japan's economic miracle was really born. Local companies such as Toyota are global names. Even the traditional miso makers are celebrated. Its "mono-zukuri" culture places great emphasis on the ability to create - and they do it well. Aichi has always been home to brilliant inventors, and continues to produce a disproportionately high percentage of the inventions & patents registered in Japan. From soy sauce to electronics, carmaking & precision instruments to recycling technologies, and from biotech to services, Aichi is continually being reinvented. The world famous concepts of "just-in-time", "lean manufacturing", "zero defects" and other such cost & quality control methods, all originated from "oh-so-frugal" Aichi. Yet the same area has a reputation throughout Japan for outrageously expensive weddings, conspicuous consumption, pachinko parlors and an enviably wealthy economy. With sophisticated textile & clothing industries in Ichinomiya, and the high disposable incomes in the region, its no surprise that Nagoya has become a fashion center and a test market for ideas, products and trends.

It is not just modernity. Historically Aichi has been the stage of Japan's turning points. Many of the most important battles including Okehazama, Nagashino, Shitagahara, Komaki and Nagakute, and many of the most important figures including Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu were born and raised in what is now Aichi. Old post towns, ancient temples, and heritage listed shrines dot the landscape. And yet as a general rule, foreign language guidebooks either ignore the entire prefecture, or give it a cursory brushoff as an "industrial center" or transport hub. Why? Perhaps because it is too big to cover in a few days - it is easy to quickly take snapshots of Kyoto or Mt. Fuji, but for Aichi you need to slowly soak it in like the waters of a Chita peninsula onsen.

Despite its famous Penis Shrine, massive fireworks, and intriguing cormorant fishing, Aichi is in general more subtle - you need to peel the layers away. Perhaps to enjoy and appreciate it's intricacies, you often need language skills - it is wishful thinking to expect the average miso maker or master potter to speak "gaijingo". And perhaps to cover the vast areas you really need a car, or more time and motivation than that of which the average corporate guidebook writer.


Aichi Prefecture has a much to see and do and due to its location in the center of Honshu is a good place to base yourself on any visit to Japan for exploring further afield.

Nagoya is the prefectural capital and a very busy, prosperous metropolis. Toyota, NGK and Mitsubishi have a number of production plants in and around the city. Other major corporations with a HQ in Aichi Prefecture include Brother, Denso, Makita, Matsuzakaya, Meitetsu and Noritake.

Nagoya's many attractions include Nagoya Castle, Tokugawa Art Museum, Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, Atsuta Shrine, SCMAGLEV & Railway Park, Legoland, Toyota Automobile Museum, Meiji Mura and a number of fine parks and gardens. See here for a full list of attractions in Nagoya.

Arimatsu, a suburb of Nagoya, is known for its Arimatsu shibori tie dye and colorful festival.

Gamagori is a pleasant onsen resort not far west of Nagoya.

Inuyama is worth visiting to see Inuyama Castle - Japan's oldest fortress - and it is close to Meiji Mura open air museum.

Okazaki is 40km west of Nagoya. Okazaki's main attraction is Okazaki Castle, the birthplace of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder of the Tokugawa dynasty and one of the most important figures in Japanese history.

Tokoname, on the Chita Peninsula, south of Nagoya, is famous for its historic kilns and is one of Japan's main producers of maneki neko ceramic cats.

Toyohashi, an historic, pleasant city on the Tokaido Highway.

Toyota, due to the wealth of the Toyota Motor Corp, has a number of fine museums, sponsored by the giant car maker. These include Toyota Kaikan (which can include a tour of the automobile production line) and the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art.


Originally, the region was divided into the two provinces of Owari and Mikawa. After the Meiji Restoration, Owari and Mikawa were united into a single entity. In 1871, after the abolition of the han system, Owari, with the exception of the Chita Peninsula, was established as Nagoya Prefecture, while Mikawa combined with the Chita Peninsula and formed Nukata Prefecture. Nagoya Prefecture was renamed to Aichi Prefecture in April 1872, and was united with Nukata Prefecture on November 27 of the same year.
The government of Aichi Prefecture is located in the Aichi Prefectural Government Office in Nagoya, which is the old capital of Owari. The Aichi Prefectural Police and its predecessor organisations have been responsible for law enforcement in the prefecture since 1871.

In 2005 the Aichi Expo was held on the outskirts of Nagoya in Seto and Nagakute.


Aichi Attractions

  • Korankei Valley

    Korankei Valley
    One of the best autumn spots in the Tokai Region. Over 4,000 maple trees of 11 different species attracts crowd. Nightly illuminations and events are held during the season.
  • Kojakuji Temple

    Kojakuji Temple
    Founded in 1427, the temple is famous at its fascinating maple leaf scenery which started in 1634 by Zen master Sanei. Zen buildings are also worth seeing.
  • Sanshu Asuke Yashiki

    Sanshu Asuke Yashiki
    Here you will find replicas of landscapes from the Meiji Era, with real ancient houses, such as gassho-styled thatched roof houses, and learn about the lives of the old-fashioned farmers.
  • Chuma Kaido

    Chuma Kaido
    Well preserved with the buildings built in the later period of Edo period in Japan. The age residence with white walls and the former symbol of affluence warehouse can be seen everywhere.
  • Nagoya Castle

    Nagoya Castle
    The symble of Nagoya and one of the three top castles in Japan. For over 350 years, it was the biggest, the best designed, the most gorgeous and well preserved of all the castles in Japan.
  • Sakae

    Sakae is one of the largest shopping and entertainment complexes in Nagoya and the perfect place to head in the evening. Inside, find a great selection of shops, restaurants and cafes.
  • Atsuta Shrine

    Atsuta Shrine
    One of Shinto's most important shrines. The 200,000-square-metreshrine complex draws over 9 million visitors annually, including those who practice the conventional New Year visit.



Attractions in Japan