Oiden to Toyota City

by Yuku Horibe

A robot at the Toyota Kaikan Museum

What images do you have of Toyota city? World renowned Toyota automobile? Yes, of course, Toyota city is famous in the automobile industry, and it is no exaggeration to say that it supports the Japanese economy. However, the truth is that there are many more interesting things in this city than what you might have expected. Most tourists prefer to go to Kyoto or Osaka; however, Toyota is also worth visiting. Therefore, I would like to introduce some destinations, festivals and special products to show you unknown aspects of my home town.

First of all, Toyota is the largest city in Aichi located in the Mikawa region, Japan, east of Nagoya. The city is approximately 918 square kilometers in area. About 400,000 people live here. Toyota was a major producer of silk and prospered in the Mikawa region from the Meiji Era. However, since Toyota changed its name from Koromo in 1960, the automotive industry has taken the place of silk. The city is now best known as the name of the world-renown of Toyota Motor Corporation, including the head office, seven manufacturing plants and two permanent showcase exhibition centers. What’s more Toyota is not only famous for automotive industry but also blessed with beautiful scenery that changes with the four seasons and traditional culture such as folk crafts and festivals. I will show you where you can enjoy these features.

If you are interested in Toyota automobiles, why don’t you go to the Toyota Kaikan Museum? At the museum, with a guided tour, visitors can see how parts are assembled to form a complete vehicle. Tours take place from Saturday to Wednesday except summer holidays until the end of September. It is surprising that there is no entrance fee to join the tour. The Toyota Kaikan Museum also hosts shows by robots that guide visitors, which became famous at the 2005 World Expo. What’s more you can see the latest car of Toyota such as Lexus. On the other hand, if you are interested in Japanese traditional culture or beautiful seasons, I really recommend you to go to Toyota City Folk Craft Museum, found in Hiratobashi Park. There are three folk craft halls related to food, clothing, and the home. You can also enjoy a lovely tea-ceremony room serving Maccha (powdered green tea) at 300 yen per cup and make pottery at “Nobori-gama,” which is a kiln.

Are you interested in Japanese festivals? If you are, you should join one of the most famous festivals in Japan,”Oiden Matsuri.” The word “Oiden” is a word from the old Mikawa dialect of the region meaning “Come on!” As I mentioned in the tile “Oiden to Toyota,” it means “Come to Toyota” in English. The festival is held in the end of July every year. It takes place in Toyota City which is located at the end of the Meitetsu Toyota Line, which is Toyota station. People in groups dance Oiden with Japanese traditional rock ‘n’ roll rhythm on the streets, making the whole city like a dance club. The festival concludes on Sunday evening with one of the world’s largest fireworks. More than 10, 000 fireworks are set off lasting nearly two hours. You can also enjoy buying food at stalls.

Finally, I would like to introduce the special food products of Toyota which are Momiji steamed buns and Gohei mochi. Momiji steamed buns are maple cakes filled with bean paste. They taste sweet. They are also suitable as a souvenir. On the other hand, Gohei mochi is rice mashed with a wooden pestle and put on a bamboo stick. It is also roasted twice and miso is used as a seasoning. The harmony of sweetness and saltiness is marvelous and that is the reason why it is loved by many people.

Therefore, when you visit Toyota, you can enjoy various destinations, festivals and special products. Toyota is already known for the automobile industry; however, you can learn and enjoy another aspect of Toyota. Why don’t you oiden to Toyota?

Yuku Horibe is a third-year student in the Dept. of British and American Cultural Studies.