Okazaki, located on the old Tokaido Highway (now National Highway Route 1) 40km east of Nagoya on the Meitetsu Line to Toyohashi, is known as the birthplace of feudal warlord and founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Okazaki Park, a 15-minute walk west from Higashi Okazaki Meitetsu station over the Otogawa River, contains a reconstruction of Okazaki Castle (Tel: 0564 22 2122) where one of the most famous men in Japanese history was born.
The castle dates from 1959 and is presently being repaired again. The original 16th century structure was demolished in the 1870s when the Tokugawa regime came to an end.
The park contains the interesting Iyeyasu and Mikawa Bushi Museum (Tel: 0564 24 2204) which details the history of Ieyasu and the local Mikawa area clan to which he belonged.
Visitors can try on samurai armor including a set modeled on Ieyasu's gold plated breastplate and leg-guards. There is also a diorama detailing the decisive battle of Sekigahara, which lead to Tokugawa dominance over the whole of the country and video exhibits of Ieyasu's life and times.
Just outside the museum is an interesting clock, the Karakuri Tokeito, from which every thirty minutes a model of Ieyasu dressed in Noh costume appears and performs a dance accompanied by music. The performance ends with a few of the great man's famous sayings.
The castle park also contains a bronze statue of its most famous son and two traditional teahouses: Kishoan and Jonantei from which pleasant koto music was issuing as we passed.
Okazaki prospered during the feudal period as a major post-station on the Tokaido highway and due to its strategic position at the confluence of the Otogawa and Yahagi Rivers. Various period shop houses have been preserved from that period along Hatchokura Dori and the old route of the Tokaido. Okazaki is still known for its production of top quality Hatcho miso, Buddhist altars and fireworks.
Take a Meitetsu Express train to Higashi Okazaki Station from Nagoya Station (28 mins) or from Toyohashi (20 mins). The nearest station to Okazaki Park is actually Okazaki Koen-mae one stop west on a local Meitetsu train or JR Naka Okazaki.
The main JR Okazaki Station is a distance south of the downtown area so change to the JR Aichi Loop Line and take a local train two stops north to JR Naka Okazaki.
By car exit the Tomei Expressway at Okazaki Interchange or take National Highway Route 1.
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007