Toyota Kaikan Museum
Learn about the very heart of Toyota City!
Toyota City was actually renamed after the famous automobile company, which has its headquarters here, making learning about Toyota’s approach to automobile manufacturing a must in understanding the city itself.
At the Toyota Kaikan Museum, you can learn about the production line, safety features and the company’s move toward eco-car hybrid technologies through interactive displays. One of the most fun parts is seeing the precise and fluid movements of the robots used in manufacturing. People are Toyota’s most important resource so they carefully consider how machines can support team members by building in quality on the production line. The Model Showroom also allows you to see some of the company’s latest models and sit behind the wheel for photos.
From the Toyota Kaikan, you can take a shuttle bus to a Toyota plant for a free guided tour to see the production line in action. Reservations, which are required, open up three months in advance and fill up fast, so be sure to plan your tour in advance!
|Address||1 Toyotachō, Toyota, Aichi|
Washi no Furusato
Create your very own washi paper in the Japanese paper village of Obara
Washi, or traditional Japanese paper, is such an important art form that it is registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Washi-making began in Obara in the northern part of Toyota City as early as the 1500s. The mountainous Obara area had little cultivatable land for crops, but had clean water and plenty of kozo trees, the most popular fiber used in washi production, and it was the perfect means of creating job security during the colder winter months.
Obara become known as the “washi village” with its oiled paper called Mikawa Morishita Gami, popularly used for rain umbrellas. Later, Obara Washi Art, which uses various colored fibers to create an image, rather than painting it on, created a unique art form that is now known internationally.
At Washi no Furusato in Obara, you can visit the Japanese Paper Art Museum, the Washi Artwork Gallery and perhaps most fun of all, attend a workshop at the Art and Craft Center. Here you can see first-hand the various stages of the washi-making process, learn from local Obara Washi experts and produce your very own piece of Obara Washi Art.
|Address||216-1 Hora Eitaro, Toyota, Aichi|
|Day off||Mondays (It's open if a Monday is a national holiday)|
Sanshu Asuke Yashiki
Step back more than 100 years and experience the wonderful world of Japanese handicrafts at this living museum
Sanshu Asuke Yashiki is a working open-air museum that showcases traditional Japanese handicrafts. With thatched dwellings modeled on Meiji Era farmhouses, the museum mimics a self-sufficient farming community complete with cows, chickens and crops. Visitors can even purchase some of the home-made products produced on the property at the restaurant.
Perhaps the best part of a visit to Sanshu Asuke Yashiki is that you don’t just see displays of old handicrafts, but can see them being made in real-time by local artisans, allowing you to interact with them, ask questions and learn about their specialized craft.
You can even try making some of the crafts for yourself, such as hand loom weaving, paper making, letter opener making, straw sandal making, Japanese indigo tie dye, and bamboo products. Some crafts take as little as 30 minutes to complete, while other more elaborate ones can take up to several hours, and make perfect take-home souvenirs of your visit (reservations required).
|Address||Iimori-36 Asukechō, Toyota, Aichi|
|Day off||Thursdays (If a Thursday is a national holiday, the next Friday is a day off)|
Old Townscape of Asuke
Visit Aichi’s first ‘National Important Preservation District of Historic Buildings’
While Asuke has become well-known as a spectacular place to view the Autumn colors, the townscape, with its incredibly preserved old streets, can be visited at its full grandeur any time of the year.
In the past, Asuke served as an important merchant and post town along the Ina Kaido Road (Chuma Kaido Road). The basic layout of the town dates back to the Sengoku Period (mid 1400s to late 1500s), but many of the buildings that still exist today are from the latter part of the Edo Period (1776-1830).
Along the 2km stretch of buildings, you can find a mix of restaurants and shops, exhibition spaces displaying locally made crafts, places of worship and old-style hotels like Tamadaya Ryokan.
Rather than an old relic that remains preserved for the sake of tourism, Asuke is very much a functioning town and its buildings continue to be used as active places of living and work. The best part of a visit to Asuke is that there is a surprise behind every door. Be sure to spend time wandering into the old buildings and seeing what kind of local secrets you find beyond each one.
Visit the only order-made sake brewery in Japan!
There are around 1,300 sake breweries in Japan, but only Sekiya Brewery produces order-made sake, allowing customers the option of having full creative control over the taste, aroma and consistency of their unique brew.
There are two other activities that you can experience at Sekiya Brewery by reservation from September to June. The first is a free 30-40 minute tour of the factory, followed by a tasting. The second is the “taiken” self experience which allows you to able to mix some sake yourself in the factory. Those who do order-made can do the taiken and tasting for free. Those who want to do the taiken and tasting without placing an order can do so for a fee, which also includes two bottles of sake to take home and a lunch box.
The on-site shop is open all year round and Sekiya Brewery have even produced a special Toyota Stadium sake ahead of the Rugby World Cup™ called “Toyo Suta,” a shortened version of the name Toyota and the Japanese word for stadium! Be sure to pick up a bottle to commemorate this special sporting event!
|Address||713 Minami Mizuwakare Kurodachō, Toyota, Aichi|
|Business hours||10:00-18:00 (Weekdays), 9:30 -18:00 (Weekends and national holidays)|
Kokaen Tea Shop
Taste some of the best green tea in Japan!
The tea industry in Toyota actually predates the Toyota car company’s arrival in the city, and while many local people are now employed in the car manufacturing industry, a small handful are keeping the tradition of tea production alive.
Kokaen is an award-winning third generation family business run by the Noba Family. They have ten plantations in total, all in Toyota City, and while many operations now rely solely on machines, they continue to pick a substantial amount of their tea by hand, producing high-quality tea products that are second-to-none.
The Noba Family produces six kinds of tea that merge into the most delightful mélange of aromas as you enter their quaint tea shop. They offer free tea tasting to all visitors to their store, and after getting to experience some of their exquisite products for yourself, you’ll no doubt find it hard to walk away without some delicious souvenirs. The green tea cakes, and the instant matcha au lait and roasted green tea au lait are hard to beat!
|Address||Yashikibata 67, Yoshirachō, Toyota, Aichi|
Enjoy Aichi’s dark and flavorful soybean miso!
Masuzuka Miso, also known as Noda Miso, specializes in soybean miso made in wooden barrels using a process of natural fermentation. Soybean miso is only consumed in Aichi (where Toyota is located), Mie and Gifu Prefectures, and of the one-thousand miso companies in Japan, only 5% use wooden barrels and natural fermentation. Masuzuka Miso is in fact the largest miso company in Japan that uses wooden barrels.
Fermentation takes between one and a half and two years, and just like wine or cheese, the specific taste is different every time. The original miso factory on the site is 200 years old and has now expanded into the surrounding aircraft hangers that were part of a working military base until the end of WWII.
Nowadays, demand for soybean miso is increasing outside of Aichi with the rise of worldwide foodie culture. You can buy soybean miso products at the on-site store, including instant miso that’s perfect to take back home, and those who want to understand miso production at a deeper level, can book one of the monthly miso classes (reservations a few months in advance required).
|Address||Minamiyama-6 Masuzuka Nishimachi, Toyota, Aichi 470-1213|
|Day off||Sundays and holidays|
Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine
Visit a shrine dedicated to the first Tokugawa shogunate
Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine stands in commemoration of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. Tokugawa used to use the family name Matsudaira, hence the name of the shrine. Matsudaira Chikauji, the founder of the Matsudaira clan and to whom Tokugawa Ieyasu can trace his roots, is also enshrined here. It is believed that the shrine is a way of passing Tokugawa Ieyasu’s legacy down to his descendants.
The water from the well at the shrine is considered to have special properties and was supposedly used to bathe Tokugawa after he was born. Nowadays, the water is given to worshippers and is said to bring longevity and to also aid in a safe birth.
Don’t forget to check out the urushi, or lacquerware, ceiling of the outer shrine, which depicts an exquisite representation of the four seasons. It was painted by local veteran urushi artist Ando Noriyoshi san using the very best Japanese lacquer.
|Address||Akahara 9-1, Matsudairachō, Toyota, Aichi|
Lacquerware Experience at Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine
Lacquerware Experience at Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine
By advanced reservation, visitors to Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine can book a lacquerware experience and have the honor of learning the art of ‘urushi’ from a local lacquerware artist in the workshop space next door. Visiting the shrine first to see the beauty and design potential of Japanese lacquerware and then using these depictions as inspiration for trying your own hand at it is the perfect way to understand this beautiful art form.
Here you can paint your own design using the earthy red-brown lacquer onto a spoon handle and then tap over color to create your very own usable souvenir. It’s an incredibly fun and creative process, in which the teacher encourages you to take the design wherever your heart desires. As it takes up to six hours to dry, arrangements can be made to send your final product to your next accommodation or even the airport (¥4000 for the workshop plus postage).
|Address||Akahara 9-1, Matsudairachō, Toyota, Aichi|
|Business hours||10:00-12:00 or 13:00-15:00 (advance reservation needed)|
Take an environmentally friendly ride into the future
If you’re looking for a fun and convenient way to zip around Toyota on your visit, you can rent a Toyota Ha:mo. This ultra futuristic one-man electric car is perfect for those spots not so conveniently located to the station and its small size makes negotiating small streets and parking spots a breeze.
With operation identical to that of a regular car, it’s easy to just rent and go. There are sixty charging stations across Toyota City so you never have to worry about being far from one.
Foreign visitors can get the ‘Tourism Plan’ in which you can conveniently pick up and return the vehicle at Toyota-shi Station without prior registration. It also includes a tablet navigation system available in English, Japanese, Cantonese, and Korean to help you find your way around with ease.
The Toyota Motor Corporation is currently exploring the feasibility of expanding the service to international driver’s license holders.
|Address||3-3-11 Motoshirochō, Toyota, Aichi|
Booby’s British Pub
Watch games on the big screen at this friendly English-speaking pub
If you’re looking for the perfect place to watch games on a big screen during the Rugby World Cup™, or just a great spot to grab some dinner and drinks, this friendly and inviting sports bar just a stone’s throw away from Toyota-shi Station fits the bill.
The staff here eagerly welcomes foreign visitors, ensuring that there is an English-speaking staff member available every night, a number they are planning to increase to 2-3 during the Rugby World Cup™. In addition to Japanese, the menu is also available in English and Chinese. While the pub utilizes a tablet system for ordering for each table, producing a combined bill as is usual in Japan, the staff welcomes those who would prefer to split the bill to simply order any food and drinks they would like directly at the bar.
Booby’s has a lot of traditional pub favorites like fish ‘n’ chips, hamburgers and Mexican, as well as some more Japanese-style pub food. To cater to their expanding foreign clientele, a new vegan menu is also currently under consideration.
|Address||Kitamachi 2-170, Toyota, Aichi|
|Business hours||17:00-26:00 (Mondays to Thursdays), 17:00-29:00 (Fridays), 11:00-29:00 (Saturdays), 11:00-26:00 (Sundays)|
Sip on fancy cocktails while watching the Rugby World Cup™
Golden Bears is another popular sports bar just two minutes’ walk from Toyota-shi Station and five minutes from Shin-Toyota Station. This one has more of a rustic vibe with wooden flooring, exposed brick walls and handwritten chalkboard menu above the bar.
The focus here is definitely on the drinks with an extensive menu of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails at very reasonable prices – ranging from fruity concoctions to chocolate, coffee, and green tea flavors, and even frozen cocktails. Its long wooden bar displays an impressive line-up of drinks and mixers that no doubt has any tastes covered.
There is no dedicated English menu, however, drink names are provided in English, and the drinking snacks and light meals available have a picture menu. Food available includes drinking snacks like nuts, edamame and garlic bread, a range of salads, some rice dishes like Japanese-style omelette rice, Vietnamese fried rice, as well as rice noodles, spicy Taiwanese-style ramen and pasta.
|Address||WEST5 2nd floor, Nishimachi 5-36-1, Toyota, Aichi|
|Business hours||17:00-0:00 (Mondays to Thursdays), 17:00-2:00 (Fridays and Saturdays)|
Try regional specialties - Japanese wild boar and freshwater eel
Izukame can be found in Asuke’s old town and is the perfect spot to stop for lunch or an early dinner. This wooden three-floor restaurant exudes a simple, homely vibe, with lots of Japanese architectural features that bring the outside in.
Izukame’s menu features two specialty items of the area: Japanese wild boar and fresh water eel. Japanese wild boar, known as inoshishi, has gained a lot of popularity over recent years with wild game meat, referred to as jibie in Japan from the French word “gibier,” becoming a foodie trend and common sight on Japanese menus. At Izukame you can try Japanese wild boar set menus with grilled, hot pot or sukiyaki options, as well as making a la carte selections – the inoshishi korokke (the Japanese take on a croquette that usually involves a mash potato filling and other items) is a restaurant favorite!
The freshwater eel (unagi) menu is extensive and is a chance to try one of the region’s most popular food items. If neither of these takes your fancy, there are also more standard Japanese dishes such as sashimi, tempura and rice bowls.
|Address||Tamachi 17, Asukechō, Toyota, Aichi|
|Day off||Thursdays (Open when a Thursday is a national holiday)|
Nichigetsu Monaka Sohonten Kawamuraya
Sample delicious and fresh Japanese sweets
Directly opposite Izukame, is a delightful sweets shop by the name of Nichigetsu Monaka Sohonten Kawamuraya, and a great place to fill in that little space you can always find for dessert.
The sweets here are fresh and delicious, and not to mention extremely affordable. Their top-seller is their original freshly-made azuki bean monaka (thin, crispy wafer filled with jam), which can only be bought at this store. It is only filled with its red-bean center after ordering, so you can enjoy the fresh filling without sacrificing the crunch of the outer casing.
The ichigo daifuku, or the strawberry daifuku, is another favorite. While the original recipe of ichigo daifuku is a whole strawberry coated in a layer of red-bean paste and then covered in a sweet mochi (pounded Japanese rice cake), this store’s version seemingly cuts the red-bean paste entirely, giving the juicy strawberry the ability to shine all on its own. This is the perfect treat for visitors who don’t like azuki bean paste (anko) or for kids who might be fussy about the unfamiliar taste.
|Address||Machidachō 22, Asuke, Toyota, Aichi|
Visit a hot spring you can drink!
For those who want to enjoy Japanese hot springs, a stay at the Sanage Onsen Hotel Kinsenkaku is an ideal choice. Sanage Onsen is Aichi Prefecture's largest natural radon hot spring. It bubbles up from 1,200m below ground and is said to have many medicinal properties.
Sanage Onsen Hotel Kinsenkaku is a very traditional-style onsen hotel, with spacious tatami rooms that include a sitting area for relaxation and tea drinking, and a futon turn-down service. The hotel provides yukata robes in various sizes, including split-toed tabi socks that keep your feet warm while wearing indoor slippers. You’re welcome to wear the yukata anywhere around the hotel, at the restaurant, at the shop, and going to and from the public baths.
A stay at the hotel also allows you to access the bigger bathing facility Sanage Onsen Iwaburo Kinsennoyu just 100m away free of charge. Towels and yukata are also provided to all visitors.
One very special aspect of visiting Sanage Onsen is that you can actually drink the hot spring water! You can buy bottles at the gift shop or bring your own bottles to fill from the water fountains.
|Address||21 Kanochō Umamichidōri, Toyota, Aichi|
The Ninja Mansion
Stay in a 150-year-old Japanese home!
If you’re looking for something completely different, why not check out the Ninja Mansion? This 150-year-old traditional Japanese home turned tourist accommodation is owned by a woman, who now operates her exciting accommodation and café business with her one staff member.
Although the Ninja Mansion is only twenty-five minutes’ drive from Toyota-shi Station, you already feel like you’re in countryside Japan. It’s calm and peaceful and when you book the Ninja Mansion, you get the entire place to yourself! Michiko san has solo guests, couples, as well as groups of up to the maximum of nine people. Guests enjoy the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese home, including sleeping on futons on the tatami mat flooring.
For meals, you can either entirely self-cater using the kitchen or you can buy hot pot ingredients and rent out the café area in the evenings for a small fee. Michiko san will prepare the pot, charcoal and can even teach you how to prepare the dish. On weekends, you can also reserve a chef to come to the house and cook for you.
|Address||15 Shimosagiri, Toyota, Aichi|
Meitetsu Toyota Hotel
Stay in a room newly renovated for the Rugby World Cup™
The Meitetsu Toyota Hotel is another very convenient option in downtown Toyota, just one-minute walk from Toyota-shi Station. Rooms range from singles, doubles, three-person multipurpose rooms to suites.
The best part about the Meitetsu is that they are doing a full upgrade of their ninety-nine rooms ahead of the Rugby World Cup™, bringing a stylish, modern and smoke-free environment to their guests. The new green and orange color scheme reflects the forest and colored leaves in Autumn. Single beds are also being widened from 120cm to 140cm, making them closer to a double, resulting in an even more comfortable night’s sleep. From some of the rooms you can even see Toyota Stadium, making it no doubt an exciting place to stay during the Rugby World Cup™.
There are four on-site restaurants, a coffee lounge and karaoke room, and a wealth of dining and shopping options in the hotel’s vicinity for those times when you don’t want to venture far for meals or entertainment.
|Address||1-140 Kitamachi, Toyota, Aichi|
Hotel Toyota Castle
A convenient location for all your transportation and entertainment needs
Hotel Toyota Castle is a comfortable, Western-style hotel conveniently located in downtown Toyota, just 2 minutes’ walk from Toyota-shi Station.
The rooms are clean, modern and smoke-free, and there is a range of different layouts on offer from singles to multi-room suites, including a barrier-free twin room. There is ample vanity/desk space and Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms, making it easy to check-in with family and friends, share your holiday snaps and plan your sightseeing.
Hotel Toyota Castle’s draw is definitely in its convenience. Not only is it located close to public transportation, but there are also four on-site restaurants (casual, teppanyaki, Chinese, and Japanese kaiseki cuisine options), an attached shopping mall and sports gym, and a movie theater and more shopping just across the road. Not to mention that it’s only a 17-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride to Toyota Stadium, making getting to and from games a breeze.
|Address||COMO Square West, 2-160 Kitamachi, Toyota, Aichi|