Asuke, located an hour drive away from Nagoya, is a picturesque town in northern Aichi. The town lies by a river, and is rich in nature as well. It can be divided into two main areas: the Judenken area, with the retro townscape, and the Korankei Gorge area, famous for its fall foliage. Spend an autumn day in Asuke for some breathtaking views and a step into olden-day Japan!
Asuke was a prominent merchant town that located between the Owari and Mikawa provinces (both in present day Aichi prefecture). The town locates on the Yahagi River and the Tomoe River, and is located into two areas.
The first area is called the Judenken Area. Here, you can enjoy Asuke’s retro townscape. The area lies right by the river, and if you go more inland, you can find Asuke Castle.
The second area is the Korankei Gorge Area. This area is famous for its fall foliage, but is beautiful year-round. In November, the Korankei Momiji Festival is held, where you can enjoy the gorge surrounded by colored leaves.
Between late March and early April, Asian fawnlilies blossom throughout the gorge. Between mid April and early May, the leaves on the maple trees turn a bright, lively green color.
Korankei during the fall
The Judentatsu Area is where you can find the traditional Japanese buildings and retro townscape. “Judenken” is an abbreviation for “Important Preservation District of Historical Buildings” in Japanese, and as the name suggest, the area is protected and preserved by locals and the government.
The Judenken Area
This area in Asuke was the first in Aichi to be designated as an Important Preservation District of Historical Buildings. The streets of Judenken were made in the early Edo period (1603 – 1867), and continue on for about 2 kilometers. The area is split up into eight smaller districts.
In 1775, a large portion of the town burned down in a big fire. The only buildings that remain today are ones that were painted with a sturdy material.
Sights to see in the Judenken Area
Here are some sights you can’t miss in the Judenken Area.
Gohei-mochi Rice Cakes
Throughout Asuke, you can find retro cafes and restaurants. However, if you want to snack while you walk, getting gohei-mochi rice cakes is recommended.
You can choose between miso or soy sauce flavor. At Bikkuriya, you can order gohei-mochi for take out.
Events at Judenken
Here are some events held in the Judenken area.
Chuma no Ohinasan (Honmachi, Judenken)
Chuma no Ohinasan
The Honmachi district of Judenken is packed with confectionary and souvenir shops. Between mid February and March, the Chuma no Ohinasan Festival is held.
Chuma Hina-ningyo doll
During this event, hina-ningyo dolls are displayed at the shops in Honmachi. These dolls are a part of Hina Matsuri, a traditional Japanese festival celebrated on March 3 to pray for girls’ health and happiness.
Korankei Gorge Area
The Korankei Gorge Area includes the Tomoe River and the Korankei Gorge that lies beside it. It is a part of the Aichi Kogen Quasi-National Park.
Behind the gorge, you can see Mount Iimori. The 245-meter mountain is home to Kojaku-ji Temple, fields of Asian fawnlilies and more.
Fall foliage at Korankei Gorge
Autumn is the most popular season to visit Korankei Gorge. The fall leaves are colored beautifully on over 4,000 maple and cedar trees. It is said that the 11th monk of Kojaku-ji began planting the trees one by one in 1634. Later in history, locals began planting more trees to create a luscious forest.
During the fall months, the Korankei Momiji Festival is held. During the festival, a camp and barbecue ground is set up in the forest grounds, so you can celebrate autumn with your friends and family.
Here are some events held in the Korankei Area.
Korankei Momiji Festival
Autumn at Korankei Gorge
For all of November, the Korankei Momiji Festival is held. Tea ceremonies, wadaiko drumming performances and more are held at Korankei-hiroba square, located by Tomoe River. There are also food stands that by the gorge, so you can snack while enjoying the fall views.
Korankei Gorge light-up
After sunset, the gorge is lit up. The fall leaves come to life with the help of the lights, and you can witness this ethereal sight until 9:00p.m. Fall foliage season at Asuke is typically between mid-November and late November, so make sure to visit during those times.
Fall foliage light-up after sunset
Date: Nov. 1, 2018 (Thur.) to Nov. 30, 2018 (Fri.) (light-up event held daily)
Time: park open all-day; light up from sunset to 9:00p.m.
Location: Asuke / Korankei-hiroba
Trout Fishing Experience
At Kamikoshi Valley in the gorge, you can experience trout fishing. After you catch the fish, you can grill it on the spot and taste it yourself. The fishing area is divided for individual visitors, family visitors and group visitors.
At Asuke-mura, located in Korankei Gorge, there are barbecue equipment and pots prepared so you can cook your fresh catch. There is even a little room with a hearth, where you can grill your trout.
(Barbecue Facility Asuke-mura: http://asukeyashiki.jp/asukemura.html)
Sights to see in the Korankei Gorge Area
Here are some sights in the Korankei Gorge Area.
Asian Fawnlily Field
Between late March and early April, Asian fawnlilies begin to blossom around Korankei Gorge. At the gorge, there is a 50㎡ Asian fawnlily field.
It takes about 7 to 8 years for Asian fawnlilies to blossom. Since they are such a precious species, they are well protected and preserved at Korankei Gorge.
Field of Asian fawnlilies
Kojaku-ji Temple in the fall
Kojaku-ji Temple was founded in 1427, and is a beautiful temple surrounded by maples and cedars. The 11th priest of this temple was the first to plant maples and cedars in the Korankei Gorge area, and two of those original trees still remain.
To get to the temple is a bit of a hike. However, the view of and from the temple is absolutely amazing and is sure to make it worth the sweat. The temple is nice to visit in the spring as well, with the fresh green leaves livening up the forest.
Asuke Hachimangu Shrine
Asuke Hachimangu Shrine
Asuke Hachimangu Shrine is said to be founded about 1,300 years ago. The main hall was built in the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573), and is designated as a national important cultural property.
The deity of the foot is enshrined here. With feet associating with travel, the shrine is said to bring good luck in safe travels.
Asuke – perfect for a day-trip!
Asuke’s retro streets
From retro streets to a stunning fall foliage, there is a ton to see in Asuke. During the day, you can go to the Judenken area and rent a yukata or kimono and take photos in the historical town, and then head to Korankei Gorge in the afternoon and stay until after sunset to enjoy the light-up.
Nearest stations: Toyotashi Station (Meitetsu Railway); Shin-Toyota Station (Aichi Loop Line)
From Nagoya Station to Toyota Station
【Nagoya Sta.】Nagoya Municipal Subway Higashiyama Line / for Fujigaoka
→【Fushimi Sta.】Nagoya Municipal Subway Tsurumai Line / for Toyotashi
→【Akaike Sta.】Meitetsu Toyota Line / for Toyotashi
From Meitetsu Nagoya Station to Toyotashi Station
【Meitetsu Nagoya Sta.】Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line / for Toyota
→【Chiryu Sta.】Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line / for Sanage
From Nagoya Station to Shin-Toyota Station
【Nagoya Sta.】JR Chuo Main Line / for Nakatsugawa
→【Kozoji Sta.】Aichi Loop Line / for Okazaki
Asuke-cho, Toyoda-shi, Aichi