Express visit of Okazaki

Okazaki is a small city, often over-shadowed by Nagoya nearby, but it’s where Tokugawa Ieyasu (the shogun and one of the most important figures of Japanese history) was born. The city’s main sites are close together near the stations, so not much time is needed to see Okazaki.

Starting my visit at their castle, I bought a combination ticket together with the Tokugawa Ieyasu Museum. The castle is nice but small, nothing particularly stands out about it, but they helped me make a woodblock print of the castle on the top floor! The castle grounds around it are quite extensive and interesting though, with lots of water in the moats and many scenic paths around the area (as well as a red bridge). The Tokugawa Ieyasu Museum wasn’t as interesting as I hoped it would be since almost all explanations were just in Japanese, but they had a big moving model explaining the Battle of Sekigahara which helped tie things together visually for my visit to the battlefield a few days later.

Outside the museum is a big clock. It looks like a regular Japanese clock but if you wait around until o’clock or half past, you’ll be able to see a karakuri puppet show! It’s a little doll dressed in traditional clothes that comes out and dances/sings, much like a coo-coo clock.

Closing time would be upon us soon, so I hurried to the last place I had on my list, the Hachabori district of Okazaki. I thought it would’ve been more traditional and bigger but in reality it’s just a few old buildings, one of them being the Miso “shopping centre”. In there, they make the famous Hachabori miso (the containers used can be seen) and sell various miso related products. Tours are held in Japanese but I missed the last one, so I just had a look myself. I bought some miso mochi to try at the hostel later that day and the lady gave me a big packet of free miso!

I personally really liked Okazaki, it’s all very green and the streets and houses are much nicer than other cities. What surprised me a bit is that people in Okazaki are very loud. I don’t know if that’s a commonplace Okazaki thing or just the people I met. But they were very nice, a man even came up to me and gave me and origami samurai hat! A free pen, free miso, an origami gift all in one day… people in Aichi prefecture are very generous.

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