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Ueno CastleNear the end of Japan’s period of civil war (1477-1573), three hegemons — Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and Ieyasu Tokugawa — arose in the Greater Nagoya region and went on unify the country. The unification drive began with Nobunaga Oda and continued with Hideyoshi Toyotomi. It was completed with Ieyasu Tokugawa who laid the foundations for two and a half centuries of peace under the Edo shogunate. With such a background, Greater Nagoya has countless historical buildings, ruins, cultural assets, national treasures, and has been the birthplace of much that still survives in Japan’s traditions and culture.

Ieyasu Tokugawa built the Nagoya castle in 1610 and turned the area into a castle town. It grew into the largest population center outside Edo (Tokyo) and Osaka, and a distinctive urban culture arose. Later, the two domains of Owari and Mikawa were joined to form Aichi Prefecture.

After the Meiji Restoration, modern weaving came in and both Owari and Nagoya achieved prominence as textile centers. This was followed by machine tools and loom works, and then by heavy industry that got its start supplying the military.

In traditional crafts, Seto-yaki pottery boasts a 1300-year history and is famous enough that the word setomono in Japanese, translated ’seto things,’ refers to all pottery and porcelain. A related historical building and national asset in Inuyama is the Yurakuen teahouse, one of three most noted national treasures.

Gifu Prefecture was two domains as well, Mino and Hida. And in the Edo period (1615-1868) the area was a place were eastern and western Japanese cultures mixed. The shogunate assigned a domain lord to Mino to defend the approaches to the Kanto Plain, but the domain of Hida was under direct authority of the shogunate and had an active exchange with the seat of government throughout the period. The area was called little Kyoto for its beautifully laid-out towns, where one can still be steeped in an aura of history. Mino and Hida were combined into Gifu Prefecture by the Meiji government.

Among the traditional products of the area are porcelain from the Tono area, paper from Mino, cutlery from Seki, and silk and cotton textiles, which formed the foundation of the modern textile industry in the area.

On the Nagara river, one of Japan’s famous spots, fishermen still use cormorants to catch fish in the same way it’s been done for 1300 years. Mino-yaki pottery also boasts 1300 years of history, and Tajimi, the cradle of the pottery, is called the homeland of beauty and the city of implements. Takayama is famous for its semiannual festivals and traditional floats. Shirakawa-go is registered as a world heritage place, and represents the tremendous historical heritage of Gifu Prefecture.

Mie Prefecture is home to the Grand Shrine at Ise, which is the focal point of pilgrimages by the faithful. The shrine is Japan’s oldest and most important, and is visited by some 4 million people every year. Nobunaga Oda first subjugated the area of Iga and Ise, then Hideyoshi Toyotomi assigned the land to Ujisato Gamo, who built a castle and castle town at Matsuzaka. This town gave birth to Omi merchants and later to Ise merchants.

Mie Prefecture is mentioned in Manyoshu, an ancient collection of poems, and the poet Basho created much of his poetry there. Indeed, Mie Prefecture is a historical treasure trove.

History of the Period of Civil War
‘Aichi, Home of the Samurai Spirit’

 Castles Aichi : Nagoya, Okazaki, Inuyama (national treasure), Kiyosu
Gifu : Gifu, Ogaki, Gamagori-yawata
Mie : Kozu
 Temples Aichi : Honkou, Kenkon-in, Kogetsu-in, Daiju, Mannko
Gifu : Hongaku, Zensho, Gegon, Myouou, Gyoki, Ryumon, Eiho
Mie : Ryosen, Kanbodai, Choden, Takada-Honzan Senshu, Kannon, Kongosho
 Shrines Aichi : Atsuta, Tushima, Kamo, Kounomiya, Kayazu, Fukagawa, Iga-Hachiman, Matsudaira-Tosho
Gifu : Chiyobo-Inari, Oofune
Mie : Ise-Gegu, Ise Wakemiya Takihara-narabino-miya, Tsubaki-oomikami-yashiro, Sarutahiko, Hikitskuri
 Historical buildings  Aichi : Jozan-en, Ansho-joshi, Okudono-jinya, Yuraku-en (national treasure)
Gifu : Shirakawa-go with its unique thatched farmhouses built in a style called Gassho-zukuri (world heritage), Takayama-jinya (magistrate’s office), Fudo-do niso-zo (nun statue), Nihon Taisho Village
Mie : Oniga castle, ruins of Nabari Toudo’s house, ruins of Matsuzaka castle
 Pottery Seto, Iga, Tokoname, Mino, Banko
 Traditional crafts Owari cloisonne ware, Toyohashi brushes, Okazaki stones, Arimatsu-Narumi tie-dyeing, Owara Japanese paper, Suzuka ink cakes, woodworking, cutlery, textiles, and so on
 Traditional activities Japanese trout fishing with tame cormorants in the Nagara River in Gifu, Gujo-orodi dance festival (significant intangible folk cultural asset)

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