Aichi Prefecture (愛知県) is located in central Honshū and borders the prefectures of Gifu and Nagano prefectures to the north, Shizuoka Prefecture to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the south, and Mie Prefecture to the west. The eastern section is covered mainly by the Mikawa Highland (三河高原 Mikawa-kogen). The city of Nagoya lies to the west, on the Nōbi Plain (濃尾平野Nōbi Heiya) and contains over thirty per cent of the prefecture’s population. Major rivers are the Kisogawa (木曽川)and the Yahagigawa (矢作川).
Aichi Prefecture consisted in the feudal times of the Owari (尾張国 Owari no kuni) and the Mikawa (三河国 Mikawa no kuni) provinces. Owari was also known as Bishū (尾州) and was one of the fifteen provinces (kuni) of the Tōkaidō (東海道, East Sea Road). Developing in early times as the site of the Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮 Atsuta-jingū) and as the halfway point between Kyōto and eastern Japan, the imperial family and mighty temples and shrines acquired vast estates in the region during the Heian Period. Later on, the province came under the rule of shugo (military governor) families, such as the Hatakeyama (畠山), the Imagawa (今川), and the Shiba (岩鷲). In the late Muromachi Period (1333-1568) the Oda clan emerged as the dominant regional power, culminating under Oda Nobunaga who eventually ruled most of the country. His successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi also hailed from Owari. After the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu invested his ninth son Yoshinao (1600-1650) in the region, headquartering him in Nagoya Castle. The Owari branch of the Tokugawa exercised considerable influence, is one of the three cadet houses of the Tokugawa (御三家 gosanke). Nagoya and its environs thrived as a major commercial and agricultural centre, famous for rice, cotton and ceramics (Seto ware).
Mikawa was also known as Sanshū (三州 or 参州) and comprised the eastern half of Aichi Prefecture. It has been mentioned in early chronicles such as the Kujiki (旧事紀) and consisted later of numerous shōen (荘園) that were under the control of local lords. From the Nara to the Sengoku periods, Mikawa was ruled by the Adachi (安達), the Ashikaga (足利), the Isshiki (一色) and the Matsudaira (松平) families. During the Edo Period (1600-1868), Mikawa was under the control of fudai daimyō and hatamoto. Interestingly, Mikawa was the only province permitted to produce gunpowder, resulting in the establishment of a flourishing fireworks industry.
With the implementation of the prefectural system in 1871, the Owari and Mikawa provinces were combined to form the modern-day Aichi Prefecture.
- 7,498,485 (May 2016)
- 5,165.12 square kilometres
- Population density: 1,454.94 inhabitants per square kilometre
- Google Maps (Aichi Prefecture)
Aichi Prefecture is an economic powerhouse, with the Toyota Motor Corporation in the lead. Other renowned companies with either headquarters or large production facilities in the region are Mitsubishi Motors, Fuji Heavy Industries, Sony, Pfizer, Brother Industries, Volkswagen AG, Matsuzakaya, Denso, Makita, and Suzuki, to name just a few. Located at the centre of Japan’s central industrial belt, Aichi has become one of the major industrial regions of Japan. Textiles, and more recently, steel, chemicals, and automobiles are its principal industries.
- Nagoya: Japan’s fourth most populous city, halfway between Tōkyō and Kyōto; Nagoya Castle, the headquarter of the Owari branch of the Tokugawa, was destroyed by American air raids in 1945 and rebuilt after WWII; Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮), said to be founded in the first century CE, one of Japan’s major Shintō shrines; the Tokugawa Art Museum, and the Tokugawa-en (Tokugawa Gardens); Ōsu Kannon and Banshō-ji in the Ōsu district; the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts (N/BMFA); the Nagoya City Museum; around JR Nagoya station: the Toyota Museum and the JR Central Towers, Midland Square (ミッドランド スクエア), housing the headquarter of Toyota and Mainichi Shinbun; in Sakae, Nagoya’s fashionable business and shopping district: the Nagoya TV Tower, Hisaya-Ōdori Park, and Oasis 21.
- Inuyama (犬山): Inuyama Castle, the only Japanese castle still in private hands, belonging to the Naruse family, retainers of the Owari Tokugawa, splendidly overlooking the Kiso River; Meiji-mura (博物館明治村 Hakubutsukan Meiji-mura), an open-air museum displaying historic buildings from the Meiji, Taishō, and Showa periods; the Japan Monkey Centre.
- Okazaki (岡崎): Okazaki Castle, one of Japan’s “100 Finest Castles,” also known as Tatsujō (龍城), was the seat of the Honda clan; in 1873, it was demolished by the Meiji government; in 1959, its dungeon, housing a permanent exhibition of historical artifacts as well as temporary exhibitions, was partly reconstructed; Hatcho miso (八丁味噌): Okazaki’s “8th Street”, where traditional miso factories offer tours and miso tasting.
- Toyohashi (豊橋): Yoshida Castle (吉田城 Yoshidajō), in the hands of many feudal lords, including Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Ikeda family, and finally the Matsudaira, the castle was used by the Japanese army until World War II and reconstructed in the 1950s and 2005.
- Toyota City (豊田市 ): a tour of the Toyota plant; reservations must be made three months before the tour, cameras and video equipment are not allowed.
The capital Nagoya can easily be reached by shinkansen (Nozomi or Kodama) from Tōkyō or Ōsaka, but there are also local trains and highway buses. Local train companies compriseJR Central, as well as the private Meitetsu (名鉄), operating around Aichi and Gifu prefectures, and Kintetsu (近鉄), connecting Nagoya with destinations in the Kinki Region. There are two larger airports in Aichi, the international Chubu Centrair International Airport and Komaki Airport, a domestic airfield.
- Aichi Prefecture (from the Japan Directory)
- The Museum Meiji-Mura (official tourist guide in English)
- Toyota Motor Corporation (in English and Japanese)
- Toyota Kaikan: Inside one of the world’s most fascinating factory tours (CNN Edition, 6 Mar 2014)
- Kakukyu Hatcho Miso (in English and Japanese)
- Maruya Hatcho Miso (in English and Japanese)
- Japan Monkey Centre (in English and Japanese)