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Okazaki

Country
Japan
State
Aichi-ken
City
Okazaki
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Okazaki is a city located in Aichi Prefecture on the main island of Japan.On January 1, 2006 the town of Nukata was merged into Okazaki.While the local Mikawa dialect is considered to be generally indistinguishable from what is considered modern standard Japanese, there are very subtle and distinctive differences.Mikawa dialect has substantial differences when compared to the dialect of Nagoya and western areas of Aichi, where the Nagoya dialect (also known as Owari-ben, Owari being the traditional name for the Nagoya region) is the traditional dialect.

Cognitively Mikawa-ben and modern contemporary Japanese are extremely close, in part due to the influence of the Tokugawa Shogunate and accidents of history.In recent decades the large number of people moving into Okazaki and the surrounding cities (particularly to work in the motor vehicle industry) and the influence of mass media has had an impact on the local dialect, with the result that more people are using standard Japanese only in day to day life.

As of May 1, 2006, the city government estimates the population at 368,201.The city remains young, with 139,233 households (2.64 residents per household).The population comprises 185,651 males and 182,550 females, reflecting the number of young men who move to Okazaki to work in the manufacturing sector.This fast population growth reflects the low unemployment rate, as well as affordable housing close to Nagoya. In April 2006 there were 263 births and 199 deaths, for a natural increase of 64 people. While for the same month 2,197 people moved into Okazaki, and 1,910 left, for a net increase of 287 people.Overall density has fallen to 950.83 persons per km2 following the annexation by Okazaki of the neighboring town of Nukata, which in December 2004, had an estimated population of 9,508, and a density of just 59.32 persons per km2.The Nukata area and the hilly forested areas of Okazaki's northeast remain sparsely populated.

Aside from Tokugawa Ieyasu, Okazaki is also well-known, and perhaps most famous for, its fireworks.The Tokugawa Shogunate restricted production of gunpowder outside of its immediate region (with few exceptions), and even today, more than seventy percent (70%) of Japan's fireworks are designed and manufactured here. A large fireworks festival, which people from all over Japan come to see, is held annually on the first Saturday in August in the area surrounding Okazaki Castle.

The National Institute of Natural Sciences is an inter-university research institute corporation consisting of five member institutes: the National Astronomical Observatory (NAOJ), the National Institute for fusion Science (NIFS), the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB), the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), and the Institutes for Molecular Sciences (IMS). NINS was established in April 2004 to bring about further development of the natural sciences in Japan.



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How to Reach

By Air

The nearest and most convenient airport to Okazaki is Nagoya International at Komaki just north of Nagoya City.From March 2005, the new airport built on a manmade island off the coast in Ise Bay will become the regional gateway.You can either use the airport bus that departs from JR Okazaki and Meitetsu Higashi Okazaki.The airport bus is clearly marked and the trip takes 70 minutes and costs 2000 yen.

By Train

There are the JR Tokaido line, the Meitetsu Honsen, and the Aichi Kanjo Line.The trains are clean, frequent and easy to use for inter-city travel.The two major stations are the JR Okazaki station and the Meitetsu Higashi Okazaki station.For those living in the south of the city, it is the most useful line for travelling to Nagoya or Toyohashi or connecting with the Shinkansen lines.

By Car

Japanese drive on the left side of the road.Driving in Japan is generally very safe and the majority of drivers are careful and courteous.Driving in Japan can be quite expensive for a number of reasons. The price of gasoline is higher than the US and is on a par with prices in Europe.Major road signs are in English and Japanese.Scooters are cheap to run, and often more convenient than a car.You can buy a second hand scooter cheaply (from 30,000-70,000 Yen) and if you already have an International Drivers License or a Japanese Driving License then you're ready to go.No special insurance is needed for a scooter up to 50cc.

Key places to visit
Okazaki Castle, Hatcho Miso, Takisan, Tokugawa Ieyasu


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Places to Visit

Okazaki Castle

was originally built in 1455 by a warrior named Saigo Tsugiyori.Captured by the Matsudaira family in 1524 (and probably relocated from the other side of the river), the castle remains associated with Tokugawa Ieyasu, even though the latter transferred to Edo in 1590.During the Edo period it served as the seat of the daimyo of the Mikawa province and dominated the city until the new Meiji Government came into power, which ordered obsolescent castle-buildings demolished.The main donjon was destroyed in order to earn foreign exchange from scrap metals.In 1959 the donjon was reconstructed to its original style and specifications, the walls are the same as those reconstructed in 1620 by Lord Honda.

Hatcho Miso

Is a dark miso paste made using a process of steaming soybeans (instead of boiling them) followed by maturation in cedar barrels under the weight of 3 tons of carefully stacked river stones for at least 2 years. Located 8 cho (Hatcho, or approximately 900m) west of Okazaki Castle near the Yahagi river, the old tiled buildings are heritage listed and one company (Kaku) has been a family business for 18 generations.It is one of the most famous miso producers in Japan, supplying the Emperor by appointment, and popular as a health food.The 2006 NHK morning drama serial, Junjo Kirari (Sparkling Innocence) was largely filmed in and around the Hatcho Miso grounds.Tours are available every 30 minutes and free samples are provided.Hatcho Miso's health properties are so great that it was donated to Chernobyl's citizens following the disaster, to help prevent and treat radiation sickness.

Takisan

The temple of Takisanji (7th century) includes several important cultural properties.The main hall is from the Kamakura period and is the location of a fire festival held each February on the closest Saturday to the lunar calendar New Year.The distinctive Sanmon gate and the Goddess of Mercy are designated as important cultural properties.Adjoining the temple is Takisan Toshogu, a shrine built in 1646 by Tokugawa Iemitsu and dedicated to his grandfather Ieyasu.It is considered to be one of the top 3 Toshogu shrines in Japan, together with Nikko and Kunozan.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

Aside from Tokugawa Ieyasu, Okazaki is also well-known, and perhaps most famous for, its fireworks.The Tokugawa Shogunate restricted production of gunpowder outside of its immediate region (with few exceptions), and even today, more than seventy percent (70%) of Japan's fireworks are designed and manufactured here.A large fireworks festival, which people from all over Japan come to see, is held annually on the first Saturday in August in the area surrounding Okazaki Castle.

Right Time to Visit

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