Aichi Prefecture Day 2: Celebrating the Beautiful Autumn Colors of Gamagori City and Korankei Valley, Japan
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Instead of lulling me to sleep, the cold, autumn wind of Aichi Prefecture made me wake up early, reminding me that I had another adventure to take on today.
After our early breakfast in Minamichita, we headed to Gamagori Classic Hotel, where we met up with the tourism officials of Aichi Prefecture.
Gamagori Classic Hotel in Takeshima is one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve seen among all my trips to Japan. Its façade looked very traditional and gave off sheer elegance. Adding to the overall appearance of the building is beautiful azalea landscapes which makes the hotel look really cozy as well.
Since we also had companions who are local and international travel agents from Southeast Asia, we were invited to inspect some of the hotel’s rooms and facilities. The hotel offers very warm and comfortable rooms, and guests can choose between sea view and mountain view rooms.
Gamagori Classic Hotel is located on the edge of the mainland, and overlooks Mikawa Bay and the small Takeshima Island from afar. Takeshima Island is a tourist destination that Gamagori City takes pride in. The island is connected to mainland Aichi Prefecture with a 387-meter-long bridge, and people are often surprised to see the difference between Takeshima Island and nearby Gamagori City.
There are certain species of plants that can only be seen in Takeshima, and the island is inhabited by migratory birds that come from Russia and Siberia during wintertime. In the center of the island is Yaotomi Shrine that serves as home for Japan’s goddess of good luck and marriage. Takeshima Island was declared a national monument in 1930.
After our short tour in the hotel, we gathered in the hotel’s special function room for a tourism presentation and a dialogue with the tourism officials. We met Mr. Kunio Kano, the Tourism Bureau Director-General of Aichi Prefecture Government. After exchanging pleasantries with the Director-General, we left the hotel and headed to Gamagori Orange Park, which was just about 4 kilometers north of the hotel.
We ate lunch in Gamagori Orange Park’s restaurant. We tried out their famous Asari Kamamabushi Gozen meal, which consisted of clam kamameshi, kishimen pot, tempura, eggplant miso, grilled Pacific saury, seasoned cod, sardine roe, Tsukudani clams, and different types of pickles. My meal wasn’t just aesthetically pleasing. It was gastronomically satisfying too!
We were given the chance to explore Gamagori Orange Park for ourselves after our flavorful lunch. Gamagori Orange Park is a large citrus park that is famous for its strawberries, melons, grapes, and, well, oranges! What makes the park more special is that visitors can pick the fruits for themselves.
It was already my second time visiting Gamagori Orange Park, but I was still very happy. I explored a different orange park during my last visit.
Before we left the park, we visited a souvenir shop where I went on an orange-picking spree. I bought a whole kilo of oranges, or “mikan”, as the locals call it. I’m a huge fan of oranges. In fact, I already finished half the kilo I bought before we even reached our next destination. There goes my souvenirs.
We headed further up north of Aichi Prefecture. Our next stop was at Obara Shikizakura, a tourist destination in Japan that is known for its grove of a special kind of Cherry Blossom or Sakura trees. The regular Sakura trees bloom during springtime only. But in Obara Shikizakura, they have the Shikizakura tree, a type of Sakura tree that blooms not just during springtime (March to April), but also during autumn (October to December)! Because it blooms twice a year, it was given the name Shikizakura, which means “four season Sakura” in Japanese. In English, they’re called Winter Cherry Blossoms.
Our guide told us that a physician Genseki Fujimoto brought a seedling to Nagoya in the late 19th century. The seedling was quickly propagated until it spread across the district. In 1978, the Shikizakura became the official tree of Obara District. There are about 10,000 Shikizakura trees in the district, and serves as Obara’s symbol.
Although the Shikizakura also blooms in the springtime, our guide told us that the trees are best seen during mid-November and early December.
It was already starting to drizzle lightly when we were in the park. The climate was so cold, and the falling blossoms were reminiscent to snow. However, the cold didn’t seem to bother my companions because they were all so busy taking their selfies with the Shikizakura blossoms as their backdrop. Of course, I didn’t miss the photo ops myself!
The rain started pouring when we arrived at our next stop, Korankei Valley. The sun has already set as well, but fortunately, we were still able to appreciate the beautiful autumn colors of Korankei Valley.
Korankei Valley is a famous tourist destination in Asuke, eastern Aichi Prefecture. What makes Korankei Valley a famous place is that it is overflowing with maple and gingko trees that soothes one’s weary soul. The valley also boasts of beautiful red, gold, and green hues—the colors of fall.
From our designated parking lot, we walked towards an old street dotted with souvenir shops and street food kiosks. We also crossed the famous Taigetsukyo Bridge over the Tomoe River. The bridge is a famous spot in Korankei and serves as a view deck of Tomoe River and the beautiful golden maple trees, and of course, as the perfect backdrop for selfies and group pictures.
I observed that the leaves of the maple trees in Korankei were smaller than those I’ve seen in Canada.
After crossing Tomoe River, we scurried our way through the cold and rainy streets until we reached Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village.
Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village is a destination that is known for its old houses, shops, and restaurants. The village was established in order to revive the dying monodzukuri culture of Japan. The invention of mass-production machines has nearly eliminated the need for hand-made crafts, so the village serves as a torchlight for the monodzukuri culture.
A variety of workshops are offered inside the village. These include weaving, paper making, and charcoal making, to name a few. I wanted to try the workshops but we needed to leave for our scheduled dinner at a restaurant in Toyota City.
After having dinner, we checked in at Meitetsu Toyota Hotel to rest for the following days in our Aichi Prefecture tour. Three more exciting travel stories in Aichi Prefecture… stay tuned!