Japan City Guides: Toyohashi
Many of Toyohashi's places of interest are located near to to Shiyakushomae (City Hall) - a short streetcar ride from Toyohashi Station.
The striking 1930s Romanesque-style Public Hall has become a symbol of the city and is built in an unusual fashion for a civic building in Japan.
The nearby Haristos Orthodox Church (built in 1913) also deserves a mention and it is possible to view the church's impressive icons inside the building. There are also both Catholic and Anglican churches located close to the City Hall.
From there it is a short walk to the pleasant Toyohashi Park and Yoshida Castle on the banks of the Toyokawa River.
Yoshida Castle was first built in 1505 by Makino Kohaku, but all that remains is a corner keep that was restored in 1954. The castle was taken over by the feudal lord Ikeda Terumasu in 1590, who began a grandiose rebuilding scheme, but the castle was never completed.
The keep is free to enter and there are good views out over the Toyokawa River. The grounds of the park were used as an Imperial Army barracks during the Meiji period and a Meiji-era sentry box and gate are evidence of that period. Toyohashi Park is also a favored cherry blossom viewing spot in season.
Also in the park are the Sannomaru Kaikan - a tea room for performing the tea ceremony and the Toyohashi City Art Museum, which has exhibits of local history and more modern temporary art exhibitions.
It's possible to walk on the southern banks of the Toyokawa River even as far as the Toyokawa Bridge about 4km in all and then across the bridge to the Maeshiba Tomyodai (Tomeidai) - one of Japan's oldest wooden lighthouses.
On the way is Minatomachi Koen, with the pleasant nearby shrine Minatoshinmeisha Shrine.
Another historical building in Toyohashi well worth seeing is the Edo Period Futagawa-juku. This large inn or honjin on the Tokaiko highway was built for lords and high-ranking officials traveling along the route between Kyoto and Edo (modern-day Tokyo). The building has been restored and its possible to visit the garden and rooms where the rich and powerful of the day would stay. There is an adjacent museum with exhibits on the history of the Tokaido.
Across the Toyokawa River are the much older Urigo Ruins where there is a reconstruction of a Yayoi Period (300 BCE - 300 CE) "dug-out" style dwelling.
Toyohashi Public Hall
Flower Clock, Toyohashi
Nearby is Toyohashi Zoo and Botanical Gardens. As well as the well-laid out zoo, the site includes a Monet Garden with water lillies brought from France, a Natural History Museum with dinosaur skeletons on display and an Amusement Park with Ferris wheel and rollercoaster.
Other attractions include the Imo Bog in the north east of the city - an area of natural beauty formed by waters from the Yumihara mountain range, the Iwaya Kannon Statue, built in 1950 but commemorating a much older statue which was revered by travelers on the Tokaido.
Despite its tranquil feel, Toyohashi's Mikawa Port can lay claim to being Japan's largest port for the import and export of motor vehicles. Japanese cars from nearby Toyota and the company's factories in the surrounding area are shipped around the world from Mikawa Port.
Toyohashi also has significant populations of Brazilian and Peruvian nisei - second or third generation Japanese immigrants who have returned to the area to work in Toyota's car factories and other associated industries.
The main entertainment areas in Toyohashi are situated near the main station. Matsuba Street is the town's show pub and strip club area.
Yoshida Castle, Toyohashi
The new Chubu International Airport - Centrair - (which opened in February 2005) is located on a man-made island about 40km south of Nagoya in Ise Bay. The new airport has taken over all international and domestic flights serving Nagoya and the surrounding region.
Access is by Meitetsu express train service on the Tokoname Line to Tokoname Station at the new Chubu Airport direct from Nagoya Station, with connections on to Toyohashi via Kanayama or Nagoya Station. The new service takes 28 minutes from Nagoya Station.
JR Bus and Meitetsu operate bus services between the airport and Nagoya Station. The bus journey takes about one hour and presently costs ,000. There are further bus services to other locations in the surrounding area including Toyohashi.
Toyohashi is an approximately 50 minute train journey from Nagoya Station by either Meitetsu's Panorama Super Express Train on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line via Kanayama and Jingu Mae stations or by JR Tokaido Main Line via Kanayama.
There are bus services to Toyohashi from Nagoya Station.
Toyohashi's street car line runs from Toyohashi Station to the Akaiwaguchi and Undokoenmae stops to the east. Street cars have been in operation in the city since 1925. Fares are a flat 150 yen for adults or passes can be purchased.
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