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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

AICHI Inuyama A venerable castle, a feudal lord's classic teahouse, and an almighty phallus

A venerable castle, a feudal lord's classic teahouse, and an almighty phallus

Situated at the foot of rolling hills in the far north of Aichi Prefecture, Inuyama lays claim to one of the country's oldest original castles, Aichi's most spectacular spring festival, and a celebration of fertility featuring a 400-kilogram phallus, among other attractions.

Don't Miss

  • The power and influence of the Oda clan on Inuyama
  • Teahouse Jo-an, built by a master of the tea ceremony
  • Ancient Tagata Shrine in Komaki, with a history of 1,500 years

How to Get There

Inuyama is just 30 minutes from Nagoya Station, and has good connections only 15 minutes from Gifu.

Command your fief from the keep of one of Japan's oldest castles

Sitting atop a small hill with commanding views of the Kisogawa Valley below and the rolling hills of Gifu Prefecture beyond, Inuyama Castle is one of only five castles whose main keep has been designated as a National Treasure. It also gives you a marvelous vantage point for viewing the area's spectacular cherry blossoms in spring or maple trees in autumn.

Built by the uncle of Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), the first great samurai unifier of Japan, the castle's old wooden steps are polished smooth from generations of footsteps.

The teahouse of a feudal lord

Inuyama also boasts one of the finest examples of a teahouse from the golden age of tea in the 16th century, Jo-an, built by Nobunaga's brother Uraku and considered a masterpiece of early Edo period architecture. The attached Urakuen Garden also displays the artistry of the age.

While you amble through the bamboo groves and down Jo-an's stone-paved paths, you can sense the stillness and serenity that the Japanese art of tea instills. And no wonder: Uraku was one of the seven leading disciples of Sen-no-Rikyu, considered the foremost master of tea ceremony in Japan and the father of the tradition of wabi-sabi, which is based on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.

Enjoy the festivities

Inuyama's spring festival is one of Aichi's most spectacular. Its 10-meter-tall wooden floats are pulled through the town by locals and heaved around street corners. Try not to fear for the flute-playing children within as the floats seem close to toppling to the ground.

At night, the floats are lit up with hundreds of paper lanterns that cast a flickering glow upon the cherry trees that line the old streets.

A phallic festival that celebrates life

For a singular cultural experience, another nearby festival that you certainly shouldn't miss is the Honen Festival. Better known as the penis festival, the highlight of this March 15 event is a 400-kilo phallus being pulled through the streets of the small castle town of Komaki. You'll be invited to indulge in free glasses of sake as the locals pray for a good harvest in the coming year.

The scene for most of the festival is Tagata Jinja, a 1,500-year-old shrine that features other examples of manmade and nature-generated phalluses. The giant member is carved new every year from a cypress log, by the way.

Museums out in the open

Explore the world and Japan's most revolutionary period at Inuyama's remarkable open-air museums. At the Little World Museum of Man, for example, you can visit a Korean farmhouse, an opulent Peruvian home, a Burkinabe compound and a Swedish Sami tent in a family-friendly celebration of cultures from all over the world.

Meiji Mura, on the other hand, reflects life in the culturally tumultuous Meiji period. You can see how Western culture inspired Japanese architects as the nation moved from its samurai past into the modern era.

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