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3-Day Model Trip Outline of the region


3-Day Model Trip Outline of the region / Tokai /

Course A


The Tokai region, located west of central Japan, is known not only for its automobile and musical instrument manufacturing, but also for its rich historical and cultural heritage and superb coastal and mountain scenery. The Tokai region consists of four prefectures. Gifu is an inland prefecture, famous for the Hida Mountains and charming old houses that have existed for centuries. Facing the Pacific Ocean, Shizuoka is a prefecture with a mild climate and is well known for growing tea. Mie is another coastal prefecture and boasts a 2,000-year-old shrine, the Ise Jingu. Aichi is home of the world-famous Toyota Motor Corporation and is surrounded by many industrial cities. Nagoya, the capital of Aichi, is one of Japan's major international cities, and plays an important role in the industrial, historical, and cultural aspects of the Tokai region.


With its rich forest resources, Takayama prospered by producing wooden furniture and items for home interiors. There are also many traditional and unique houses, and the area is filled with a spirit of craftsmanship. In addition, being developed as a castle town since the sixteenth century, many historic buildings can be seen. In the spring and fall, the Takayama Festival is held during which lavishly decorated floats parade through the town.


Set near the Hida River that runs from the Hida Mountains, Gero is famous as a historic hot spring resort. This hot spring, famous for over 1,000 years, was considered to be one of the three best hot springs in Japan during the Edo Period. The view of the gorge along the Hida River is also worth seeing. In every season you will find various events to enjoy, including the Tanokami Festival, the Gero-onsen Hot Spring Festival, and amateur kabuki performances.


Course B


Located near the westernmost part of Shizuoka Prefecture, Arai is blessed with a natural environment that includes both the Pacific Ocean and Lake Hamanako. In the Edo Period, a sekisho (barrier station) was located here through which travelers to and from Edo, now Tokyo, had to pass. This historic site still exists. Every summer, a hand-held fireworks display is performed to honor the Suwa Shrine.


Located by the Tokai Highway, Kakegawa was developed as both a post-station town and castle town surrounding Kakegawa Castle. The castle was recently restored and rickshaw rides around the castle add to the authentic atmosphere of the Edo Period. Also, this city is rich in nature, and you can enjoy hiking at Awagatake, a small mountain east of the city. In spring, the city's Iris Garden is filled with more than one million irises blooming in the one-hectare (2.47 acres) garden.


Hamamatsu is a historic castle town founded during the Warring States period (sixteenth century). Today this city is known for manufacturing musical instruments and motorcycles. Kanzanji Hot Springs by Lake Hamanako is a scenic hot spring resort fully equipped with entertainment facilities where you can enjoy local fresh seafood, especially its famous eels. The Hamamatsu Festival is held in the springtime during which kite flyers compete at nearby sand dunes.


Blessed with a mild climate throughout the year, Shimizu is known for producing mandarin oranges, tea, and strawberries. On the coast, there is a pine-tree grove on a sand spit called Miho no Matsubara and which is often mentioned in legends. From the small mountain called Nihondaira you can enjoy a superb view of Mt. Fuji and the light-filled city at night. Picking strawberries during the winter and spring months is a popular pastime.


Course C


Today Suzuka is known as a racing city hosting F-1 races and automobile-related shows. However, this city also offers fine scenery, especially around the Bay of Ise and Suzuka Mountains. Suzuka is also renowned for its traditional crafts such as a template used for dyeing Japanese kimono patterns. Furthermore, a well-known Shinto shrine located at the foot of Suzuka Mountain in the city suburb, is visited by 1.3 million people annually.


Matsuzaka has a flourishing history as a castle town since the sixteenth century and its centerpiece is Matsuzaka Castle. Traditional houses with tiled roofs and stone paving can still be seen here. What should not be missed in this city is the famous Matsuzaka beef. The cattle are specially fed and raised in clean conditions, and Matsuzaka beef has a reputation for its excellent taste and flavor. The region is also well-known for Matsusaka momen, a traditional handicraft of indigo-blue textile woven in a stripe pattern. The Ujisato Festival is held each autumn, and people dressed in warrior costumes of the Warring States Period parade through the town.


The center of the city is home to Ise Jingu, one of the most renowned shrines in Japan. Its history dates back more than 2,000 years. There are 125 sacred buildings dedicated to a god on the vast premises and more than seven million people from all over Japan visit this shrine annually. Also of interest is Kongoshoji, a 1,400-year-old Buddhist temple at the top of Mt. Asama. The temple is at its most beautiful when the hydrangeas bloom during spring and summer. Other interesting sites to visit are the wooden houses of the Edo and Meiji Period.


Course D


Gifu, the capital city of Gifu Prefecture, was established as a castle town in the sixteenth century. Gifu has developed various types of commerce and industry which are unusual for a local city. These include Japanese-style umbrellas, lanterns, and fans. Gifu has a lengthy history, and there are many famous historic sites to visit in Gifu Park. The city is also famous for ukai, a unique fishing technique that uses cormorants to catch fish, and which is still performed on the Nagara River. Every summer, people from all over Japan and abroad visit the city to see ukai.


Ogaki, located in the southwest of Gifu Prefecture, is a city with a variety of manufacturers. Historically, Ogaki developed as a castle town around Ogaki Castle. This city is especially known as a place where the famous haiku poet Basho Matsuo completed his most important work Oku no Hosomichi (a collection of haiku poems relating his travel experiences). Today, a memorial hall stands where Basho finished his journey. During the Basho Festival, an English haiku contest is held.