Spend a 2-Day Trip in Okazaki, a Hidden Gem in Aichi Prefecture
- Published: Jan 31 2019
- Last updated:
Located just 30 minutes from Nagoya, Okazaki is a hidden gem with breathtaking natural scenery, convenient transportation, and comfortable accommodation. Join us as we go off the beaten path to discover this lovely city and explore the exceptional experiences on offer!
*This article was made in collaboration with Okazaki City.
Okazaki, a Hidden Gem near Nagoya
Have you ever heard of Okazaki? It's a city located in Aichi Prefecture, not very far from Nagoya, one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations.
Haven't heard of it? Not to worry! We're about to bring you with us on a 2-day trip around Okazaki! After this trip, you'll doubtlessly fall in love with this adorable city, just like we did!
Let's enjoy Okazaki together!
How to Get to Okazaki Station
· From Nagoya Station: Take the JR Tokaido Main Line for about 30 minutes. The train comes every 15 minutes.
· From Shin-Osaka Station: Take the shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya Station for about 1 hour (prices vary), then take the JR Tokaido Main Line for about 30 minutes. The train comes every 15 minutes.
· From Tokyo Station: Take the shinkansen to Toyohashi Station for about 90 minutes (prices vary), then take the JR Tokaido Main Line for about 20 minutes.
Kakukyu Hatchomura - Village of Delicious Food
After the long journey from Osaka, we stopped for a light lunch. Our first destination was Kakukyu Hatchomura, a restaurant close to Okazaki Koen-mae Station.
This "village" is like a cafeteria comprised of many different kinds of shops all brought together under one roof. Every shop here serves food made with Hatcho miso, a famous red miso product in Okazaki with a unique taste.
We tried out 2 restaurants and 1 cafe while we were here.
At the first restaurant, Kyuemon, the recommended dish on offer was "Miso Nikomi Udon" (udon boiled in miso soup). The combination of soft and chewy udon noodles with a thick, red miso soup was delicious!
Another recommended dish was the "Dondori Teishoku", which is a set meal of fried chicken dressed with miso sauce. You should try eating chicken at least once during your travels here, since chicken meat in Japan is exceptionally tender. Paired with the flavor of red miso, this set was super tasty!
Our next shop was called Teppanyaki Curry, a one-of-a-kind iron griddle curry shop with red miso as their secret ingredient.
The potent flavor of the curry spices partially hides the smell and taste of the red miso, but the rich taste from the miso clearly sets it apart from other curry shops, and is definitely worth trying!
We ended our meal with dessert at Q to CAFE, a lovely cafe with red miso as their star ingredient.
The most popular item on their menu is the "Red Miso Ice Cream."
You might be a bit skeptical of this flavor combination, but we guarantee you that the taste was actually delicious, and will definitely exceed your expectations! The mixture of miso and milk resulted in a mellow, caramel-like flavor. It was very satisfying!
Kakukyu Hatcho Miso no Sato - Learn Exactly How Beans Become Miso Paste at this Miso Factory
Our next stop, Kakukyu Hatcho Miso no Sato, is pretty close to our lunch venue. This is the birthplace of the Hatcho miso that we just indulged ourselves in. You can take a tour around the factory and the Hatcho Miso Museum to learn about the production process of red miso.
They offer guided tours (see times below), with both reservations and walk-ins available.
The building shown above was once a miso factory, but it is no longer in use. It was constructed in 1645 and is registered as a cultural property of Japan. This miso factory had actually been a faithful supplier of red miso for the community since the Edo period (1603 - 1868)!
Inside the building, we can observe the process of making red miso from the very beginning, all the way to packaging and distributing. It was very interesting to witness the whole process!
Walk a little further and you'll find yourself in the Hatcho Miso Museum, which tells the story of Hatcho miso, from the founding of the factory to the details of various miso-making tools.
In the past, the area used to be called Hatchomura (Hatcho Village), which is why people called the miso produced here "Hatcho miso". Since technology hadn't been developed yet, human labor was required in every step of the process.
After that, we came across wooden miso casks! To make miso, soybeans, koji (malt-like material from growing mold on rice or barley), and salt are mixed together in a cask. Then, a pile of rocks is placed over the lid to ensure fermentation. Each miso container weighs up to six tons and the rocks weigh up to three tons!
The fermentation time ranges from a year and a half to three years. The casks can be reused again and again for up to five hundred years.
After learning so much about red miso, it was time to taste the real thing! The taste was quite strong but very delicious. We also tried red miso mixed with white miso, which had a milder taste and was easier to eat.
Lastly, we sampled konjac with red miso sauce. The sweet sauce blended nicely with the mild flavor of the konjac. Another delicious combination of flavors!
You might have really developed a liking for Japanese miso after observing and tasting several varieties. If so, don't forget to bring back at least one pack as a souvenir! There are so many kinds of miso to choose from and they can all be kept for several years.
Besides miso, check out other miso-based products as well! Another interesting souvenir is this miso cake pictured above! The taste is similar to the miso ice cream we had earlier. Red miso makes the cake look almost like a brownie.
Fill your bag with as many souvenirs as you like! After that, leave to fill your belly with dinner!
Rocky Champ - A Modern Yakiniku Restaurant
The shop interior of Rocky Champ, a yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) restaurant near Higashi Okazaki station, is quite impressive! Our appetites are back with a vengeance, so let's order! (Unfortunately, there is no English menu, so you might need to rely on a translation app.)
It looks so tasty! The meat is really high quality and super delicious! In Japan, yakiniku is eaten with salt, tare (sauce), or lemon. Try them all and choose the flavoring you like best.
The most popular meat option here is the "Byosatsu Rosu," which translates into a cut of loin that was killed in the blink of an eye!
We'll let you in on our recommended secret dish! It's a secret because it isn't on the menu, but you can order it. This meat item is called "Chateaubriand" (around 3,000 yen), and it instantly melts in your mouth!
For those who want to try something new, we recommend the "Yukhoe". Just mix the meat with the raw egg and eat it! The smell of the meat isn't too strong, and the meat becomes even sweeter and juicier after you mix the egg in. We guarantee you that the raw meat here is clean and safe!
Okazaki Higashi Park - Enjoy the Autumn Foliage in the Evening
After we stuffed ourselves with food, we went for a walk in Okazaki Higashi Park to see the autumn foliage. You can reach the park by bus from Higashi Okazaki Station.
We recommend you to come in November when the changing of the autumn leaves is at its peak. There are more than 1,500 trees with beautifully colorful leaves for you to gaze at!
The park is lit up from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, granting another gorgeous view. It's not an exaggeration at all to say that the park is beautiful all day and night! It's a bit cold in fall, so don't forget to wear warm clothes.
There is also a zoo next to the park you can enter for free during the day. Definitely visit if you love animals and nature!
Okazaki Castle - Illuminations and a Romantic Night View
After the park, we arrived at Okazaki Castle to bask in the stunning night scenery. The castle is located just a short 15-minute walk away from Higashi Okazaki Station.
The illuminations in the castle park are also exceptional! The autumn leaves, when lit up with a gorgeous glow, create a romantic and mysterious atmosphere.
Even though it can get dark very early in the fall, you don't have to worry as the grounds are well-lit all over, so you can relax and immerse yourself in the scenery.
Okazaki New Grand Hotel - Beautiful Views and Satisfying Service
We spent the night at Okazaki New Grand Hotel, a hotel right by the riverside with a stunning view. In spring, it's said that there's a full row of blooming cherry blossom trees right along the riverside!
There's also a spa and large public bath on the 9th floor, with different bath entry times for men and women (during the time slot for women, a password is required for entry as a safety measure.)
This room was really spacious and we could enjoy the view of Okazaki Castle while soaking in the hot water of the bath. It was really relaxing!
Before getting in the bathtub, you have to take off all of your clothes and take a shower. The rules are written in front of the bathroom (English is available). If you're feeling a little shy, we recommend going in the morning when there aren't that many people.
Next, let's explore the room. It was cozy and just the right size for a Japanese hotel. Moreover, Okazaki Castle could be seen from even inside the room!
After a pleasant night's rest, we were ready to get some breakfast. The breakfast at this hotel is buffet-style with a wide variety of Japanese and Western cuisine. There's also salad, yogurt, and a selection of fruits. So delicious!
Okazaki Castle can also be seen from the dining room! The scenery was so beautiful - we couldn't stop taking photos!
Okazaki Castle - Revisiting This Ancient Castle in Daylight
After enjoying the night view of Okazaki Castle, we decided to go look at it again during the day. Since the castle is within walking distance from the hotel, we stored our luggage at the front desk before departing. We recommend you to do the same!
Autumn is in the air!
You can enjoy not only red leaves, but yellow ginkgo leaves, too!
If you want, you can rent a kimono and enjoy the scenery in traditional clothes for the whole day for 1,000 yen! The price includes a warm cup of Japanese green tea.
There is also a shrine inside the castle. You can get lucky charms and make a wish. If you're getting hungry, there's a restaurant that serves traditional Japanese meal sets here.
Okazaki Castle looks like a three-story castle from the outside, but the castle actually has five stories. Inside the castle, you can learn about the history of the castle and the lives of the locals. The videos are pretty interesting, too.
You can see a view of the whole city from the 5th floor of the castle.
Mikawa Bushi no Yakata Ieyasu Kan - Museum of Ieyasu, the Warrior of Mikawa
Not far from Okazaki Castle, you'll find the Mikawa Bushi no Yakata Ieyasu Kan. This museum tells the story of Tokugawa Ieyasu, an important noble (shogun) during the Edo period who used to live in this castle. He is known as the warrior of Mikawa, which is the former name for Okazaki City.
Inside the museum, you can learn about the long civil war in Japan during the Sengoku period, and how Tokugawa Ieyasu, the hero who hails from Okazaki, ended the 150-year war. (Note that photography is prohibited inside the museum!)
The picture above is a statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
At numerous castles across Japan, staff in warrior costumes walk around the area for tourists to take photos. The person on the left holding a fan is dressed as Tokugawa Ieyasu, while the one on the right is representing Honda Tadakatsu, one of the Tokugawa Four Heavenly King warriors. He was said to be one of the best samurai generals of his era.
The castle was beautiful, powerful, and full of interesting facts about Japanese history. Okazaki Castle is one of our favorite places on the list. We recommend you to visit!
On your way back to the hotel, don't forget to snap a picture of Okazaki Castle on the manhole cover! Just Japan being Japan by having these cute little details everywhere!
Cafe Days - A Lovely Cafe near the Station
Let's end the trip at Cafe Days, a chic cafe located near Higashi Okazaki Station. You can also walk here from the castle.
The counter was already super cute and photo-worthy! There are outlets to charge your phone, and there's Wi-Fi too!
After getting free water from the counter, let's order our meal!
The most popular item at this cafe is the hamburger. There are other interesting dishes like Gapao Rice as well, but let's try the famous hamburger!
You can see from the picture how big it was. Needless to say, it tasted amazing - we give it a 10/10!
You can also order the hamburger in a set with a drink and fries. It's worth it!
You Can Also Enjoy Okazaki in the Spring and Summer!
Our short 2-day trip in Okazaki has already come to an end. Even though our trip this time around was tailored for autumn or winter, Okazaki is also perfect in the spring (March - May) and summer (June - August) as well!
Spring - Enjoy the Beautiful Cherry Blossoms in Okazaki Park
Spring is the season when cherry blossom flowers bloom all over Japan. If you travel to Okazaki, the recommended spot for viewing them is at Okazaki Park, which is located near Okazaki Castle.
Spring - Fascinating Wisteria
Apart from cherry blossoms, Okazaki is also famous for wisteria.
During full bloom, you can see wisteria hanging down from the branches all over the city. They look like an exquisite, light purple flower curtain. You can also explore a lovely wisteria garden in Okazaki Park.
Summer - Catching Delicious Fish
In summer, one of the most popular activities for Okazaki locals is catching "ayu" (sweetfish) at the riverside. It's great to eat delicious food, and it's also really refreshing to walk in the river to escape the hot weather!
After catching them, you can grill the sweetfish for a super tasty meal. We recommend grilling the fish until it's cooked into a golden color. The amazing smell will have you licking your lips!
Summer - Unlimited Grape Picking!
After a satisfying meal, head to a grape farm for some delicious fruit! Here you can enjoy grape picking for an unlimited time, and it's all-you-can-eat, too!
There are many kinds of grapes you can pick, such as big, round purple grapes, round green grapes, red oval-shaped grapes, or even large, round, red grapes like those in the picture above.
Furthermore, you can enter the farm without a prior reservation. Want to feast on some delicious grapes? Then this is the place for you!
Fun All Year Round in Okazaki!
Okazaki is a small but fascinating city near Nagoya. It is an ideal spot to visit with scenic views, convenient transportation, and various interesting attractions. These great points attract tourists like us all throughout the year!
Consider Okazaki as a destination for your next trip to Japan!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.