What we can find in northern Aichi Prefecture is a castle-town which didn’t suffer any raid during World War Two: here’s Inuyama!
Inuyama is closed to Nagoya, therefore it represents a suggested spot for a day-trip.
What’s special about Inuyama?
Inuyama Castle is this little town’s pride: designated as National Treasure, it was built in the Muromachi period, in 1537.
The castle keeps its original wooden structure and it is famous for being the oldest fortress of Japan: its 19 meters-high main tower takes place on the top of a small hill, offering a wonderful view! From its 4th floor you can see the Kiso River.
On the other side, the panorama opens on what today is Mino-no-kuni, in Gifu Prefecture. On clear days you can see Gifu, Nagoya and Komaki castles from here!
Many objects are exposed in the lower floors, while the sorrounding area is scattered with several traditional buildings, together with many tourist facilities.
Uraku-en is a Japanese garden which takes place close to the castle. This garden, especially beautiful during the autumn, hosts a tea house called Jo-an, built by Oda Nobunaga’s brother, Oda Uraku in 1618.
The tea house was moved here from Kyōto in 1972. It is a private building opened to the public once a month.
Inuyama is famous also for its Karakuri dolls, developed during the Edo period. These dolls can be moved in several ways thanks to ropes and strings.
They were used in Nō and Kabuki plays, together in domestic contexts as “tea-holders”.
They can be seen in some plays nowadays too!
The “tea-holder doll” transported on the “Dashi” cars during the Inuyama-Matsuri is hosted in the Karakuri Exposition Hall.
How to get to Inuyama
From Nagoya there are many ways to get to Inuyama, in the northern part of Aichi Prefecture.
Nagoya is quickly reachable from Tōkyō or Ōsaka by Shinkansen.
From here you have to enter the underground station of Meitetsu-Nagoya Station, and take a Meitetsu-Gifu bound train, getting off at Inuyama-Yūen Station.
My impression of Inuyama
I visited Inuyama in the end of December, when the whole area was covered with snow. I started walking towards the castle-town from the station.
Here the display cases containing the Yama cars and the building’s structure made of white walls and wooden poles made me feel the history of this place.
I kept strolling with some snacks in my hand along several shops where gorgeous objects and traditional handcrafts were being sold.
By the fortress area entrance the Sankō-Inari Shrine takes place.
Also known as Sarutahiko-jinja, this shrine plenty with history stands at the feet of the hill where Inuyama castle lays.
The contrast between its red toriis and the snow was breathtaking.
The castle’s wooden insides host many objects. The main tower’s 4th floor is wide and you can also walk on the balcony.
The landscape I could behold from here was amazing! The slow stream of Kiso River and the mountains covered with snow created a relaxing atmosphere.
During this visit I couldn’t see the Uraku-en, but I will surely see it next time!
Also, Inuyama hosts Meiji-mura, a theme park where one can learn about the Meiji Restoration and the impact of foreign cultures on Japan.
It would be interesting to see Meiji-mura, so I will visit it together with the Enraku garden in the future!