Visit Japan’s largest castle: Nagoya
Nagoya Castle was built at the order of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the three “Great Unifiers” of Japan. It was completed and is Japan’s largest keep.
Today if you look up, this ornately decorated residence of former Tokugawa daimyos (powerful Japanese feudal lords) offers spectacular ceiling paintings.
Walk amongst cherry and maple blossoms
The Obara area in the city of Toyota is planted with more than 10,000 cherry trees that bloom twice each year.
The unusual sight is made up of red maples, pink cherries, and evergreens that display a cornucopia of beautiful colors and textures. As many as 300 cherry trees, called Shiki-zakura, bloom in Obara Fureai Park and its immediate vicinity from mid-March to early April and again from late October to early December. Obara is also home to Obara washi, a tradition of sturdy handcrafted paper carried on since the late fifteenth century.
Tuck into breakfast Nagoyan style
Nagoya love to start the day with the classic “morning service”, the equivalent of happy hour at breakfast time. For a limited period each morning, a light meal of toast and a boiled egg, sometimes also a mini salad and yoghurt, is served for the price of a coffee bought in the UK.
The bread is typically cut extra thick and toasted golden-brown. When it is topped with a pot of lightly salted butter and a scoop of sweet red-bean jam, it’s a treat known as Ogura toast – an East–West fusion that dates back.
Experience solace in nature on the islands of Mikawa Bay
Escape to the trio of tiny islands – Sakushima, Himakajima, and Shinojima – near the mouth of Mikawa Bay in southern Aichi Prefecture for a break from the hustle and bustle of city exploration. The islands form part of the Mikawa-wan Quasi-National Park.
Sakushima, the largest of the three, can be toured on foot or by bicycle in a couple of hours. Seek out the 22 modern art installations located all around the island, including “Hirune House” (The Nap House), “East House” and “Kamome Chushajo” (literally meaning The Seagull Parking).
Himakajima, the middle of the three isles and the easiest one to access, is famous for the anime-inspired “Heidi’s Swing” atop a hill on Sunrise Beach at the island’s easternmost tip. After you take to the sky on the swing, walk along the beach and enjoy a meal of the island’s two famous catches: octopus and fugu pufferfish.