Toyota City, Traditions and Technology
- Toyota City in central Aichi Prefecture is a vibrant mix of traditions and technology, of state-of-the-art research and industry facilities, and areas of abundant pristine nature and fascinating history. In actual fact, Toyota City didn’t exist before taking the name of the regions biggest employer in 1959. Prior to that, the ancient township was known as Koromo, and ruled over by the Miyake and Naito clans from the sturdy Koromo Castle. Now, thanks to Toyota Motor Corporation, currently the world’s 9th largest company by revenue, and one of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers, there is a little bit of Aichi in every corner of the world.
At The Heart of Nature
- An explosion of color greets you at one of Japan’s premier autumn leaf viewing spots, the magnificent Korankei Gorge. Seek respite from Aichi’s humid summers here, or visit in mid November to be treated to a pallet of vibrant colors. Scenes of autumn leaves reflected in the ragged cliff edged crystal clear waters of the shallow Tomoe River below 254m high Mt. Iimori, will leave you spellbound. In 1634 Sanei-osho, the 11th head priest of the nearby Kojaku-ji Temple (established 1427), planted maple trees along the approach, and encouraged pilgrims and locals to do the same. Their efforts culminated in over 4,000 maple trees of 11 varieties being planted. Beautiful by day, at night, the autumn trees are illuminated to create a breathtaking scene of scarlet red, orange, gold and green.
- Cherry blossoms are close to the hearts of the Japanese, and Toyota’s Obara district offers the seasonal treats of cherry blossom and autumn leaves at the same time. Here, special Shikizakura Cherry trees bloom twice a year. Once in Spring, and again in the autumn, along with the stunning fall colors to provide an unmatched spectacle.
Japan’s elegant and much admired wisteria blossoms in early May, and the Fujioka region of Toyota is one of the best places to enjoy the many varieties of purple, white and blue wisteria. In fact, the name Fujioka means “Wisteria Hill”, and the opportunity to walk along the paths below the many thousands of hanging wisteria will leave a lasting impression.
Toyota City’s original name was Koromo. The samurai lords of the region ruled from Koromo Castle, also known as the “Seven State Castle”, as seven surrounding local domains could be seen from it’s tower keep. Parts of the castle have been reconstructed, and the site now houses the Toyota City Art Museum. Being in the middle of the Sengoku, or Warring States region, there are many other castles and ruins within the city limits. Strategically important Asuke Castle was attacked and defended numerous times, and has been faithfully reconstructed providing a fine example of an early styled samurai castle.
The all powerful Shogun rulers, the Tokugawa clan originated in Matsudaira Village in Toyota, and the ruins of Matsudaira Castle and the moat surrounded Matsudaira-go villa, the Matsudaira-go Historical Museum and Toshogu Shrine dedicated to the historically important clan are popular sites. Wherever you go in Toyota, you are close to the heartland of the samurai, and Toyota is also famed for its unique martial arts called Bo-no-Te, designated as an Aichi Prefecture Intangible Folk Cultural Heritage Asset, and kept alive by the disciplines’ ten remaining schools.
Traditional Culture and Crafts, Modern Technology
- In the pristine Korankei Gorge, under the watchful eye of the rugged Asuke Castle, lies the rustic Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Mura, a collection of traditional Edo period houses preserved in a village-like atmosphere. Traditional crafts, including bamboo basket weaving, paper making, indigo dying, traditional waraji straw sandal making and many more are continued here. Visitors too can enjoy experiencing the various traditional craft workshops year round.
- Toyota’s Obara district is also famous for its traditional washi paper manufacturing, an industry that began in the14th century and continues in the classic way to this day. The high quality papers were used for umbrellas, folding fans, sliding doors and panels in traditional homes. Try your hand at the special techniques in the workshop and learn from the masters of paper crafting. The traditional techniques and attention to detail that originated in this area remains alive even today in Toyota City’s leading modern technologies, learned through these lessons from the past.
Festivals of Toyota
Toyota is a city proud of its technologies, its traditions, and particularly its many festivals. From the Hina Dolls of Chuma in Asuke-Town where every house and shop along the streets off the former castle town display traditional dolls, to the exciting action of the Asuke Festival, when teams of men in traditional Matsuri-banten festival clothes pull the huge six-meter high, two-ton festival floats through the narrow streets. Exhibitions of the local unique martial, art, Bo-no-Te and traditional samurai matchlock gun performances are often seen at Toyota’s events and festivals too.
Toyota’s Mitsukuri township stages a Wisteria Festival early May, when walkways covered by thousands of gorgeous hanging wisteria vines bloom, becoming a major local attraction. The flowers are further celebrated with a lively annual festival featuring traditional foods and performances.
The summer festivals of Japan are world renown, and Toyota’s Oiden Festival on the banks of the Yahagi River is one of the must see summer events. Held in late July, the unique "Oiden" dance battles, one of the major dance festivals in the central area of Japan, can be enjoyed by all, and are Topped off with what is considered by many tourists who've witnessed the event, one of the greatest fireworks shows, precisely coordinated to lively music. See brilliant fireworks, including the colossal 550m long Niagara Falls fireworks light up the night sky. The traditional and the modern elements of Japanese life are best discovered in the festivals of traditional and modern Toyota City.