Japan Travel Talk No. 3 - Finding a Piece of Seattle in Japan


No. 3 – Finding a Piece of Seattle in Japan
Let’s start with some trivia. Where can you visit world-class aerospace museums, view the production of cutting-edge jets, and enjoy flavors inspired by the Northwest? You may be thinking the Puget Sound but there is a destinaion off-the-beaten path in Japan that features all of this and more. Welcome to the central-Japan metropolis of Nagoya and the neighboring urban areas of Gifu and Mie Prefectures.
This region, also known as Chukyo (中京) in reference to the central location between Tokyo and Kyoto, is a major hub for the country’s aerospace sector. The first stop on our tour is the city of Kakamigahara in Gifu Prefecture, the location of Japan’s largest air and space museum and first operational airstrip, along with the base of Kawasaki Heavy Industries and its network of suppliers. The city is also the present-day location of the Unuma-juku Nakasendo post town during the Edo Period, and you can see related historic buildings during a visit. Kakamigahara is about one hour by train from Nagoya Station. Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum

Photo Courtesy of the City of Kakamigahara
Gifu Airfield

Photo Courtesy of the City of Kakamigahara
Unuma-juku Era Buildings in Kakamigahara

Photo Courtesy of the City of Kakamigahara
Photo Courtesy of Chubu Centrair International Airport
Moving on to Aichi Prefecture, in 2018 the Chubu Centrair International Airport opened an addition built around the exhibition of Boeing’s first 787 Dreamliner test aircraft. Parts manufactured for the Dreamliner by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki and other companies in the Nagoya area are flown to Everett on the Dreamlifter (transport aircraft) from this airport. The Flight of Dreams retail, entertainment, and education complex features both the 787 Flight Park and the Seattle Terrace with many restaurants and stores that you would recognize (see link below for details). Flight of Dreams is open both to airport passengers and the general public and is accessible with a 28-minute train ride from Nagoya Station.
The other major airport at Komaki, a 20-minute bus ride from Nagoya Station, also includes aerospace attractions worth a visit. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ final assembly plant for Japan’s first modern commercial jet program – the SpaceJet – offers public tours and exhibits at a co-located museum. Connecting back to Washington State, the SpaceJet (formerly the Mitsubishi Regional Jet or MRJ) is currently undergoing flight testing from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, and the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation’s U.S. headquarters is located in Renton. The Mitsubishi factory tour can be combined with a visit to the Aichi Museum of Flight nearby. The Aichi Museum, the 787 Flight Park, and the Kakamigahara Museum all have had various levels of collaboration with the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field and Future of Flight in Everett.   Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ SpaceJet Assembly Plant

Photo by Travis Doty (blog author)
Beyond aviation, Nagoya also has a railway museum that features exhibits on the maglev and other train-related technology, and the region is a good access point for visiting the mountains, picturesque coastlines, and plentiful historic attractions in central Japan, including the country’s most important Shinto shrine, Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture.  
Trip Resources
Kakamigahara City http://www.city.kakamigahara.lg.jp/international/english/3087/003089.html
Flight of Dreams https://flightofdreams.jp/en/
Mitsubishi Factory https://www.mhi.com/expertise/museum/mrj/
Aichi Museum of Flight https://aichi-mof.com/#googtrans(en)
Railway Museum https://museum.jr-central.co.jp/en/
Nagoya & Aichi Prefecture https://www.aichi-now.jp/en/
Gifu Prefecture http://travel.kankou-gifu.jp/en/
Mie Prefecture http://www.travel.pref.mie.lg.jp/en/index.shtm
Japan Travel Trivia
If you plan to travel to Japan during the New Year’s holiday, you may be interested in a midnight visit to the local Shinto shrine on January 1 for hatsumode. Some of the major shrines in Japan receive a million-plus visitors in just the first three days of the New Year! Anyone can visit and offer respect to a Shinto shrine irrespective of their religious beliefs. Typically, shrine visits involve etiquette that include a combination of bowing, washing the hands and mouth with water (purification), clapping, and offering coins in a special box called the saisen-bako. Here is a guide from one of the largest Shinto shrines in Japan, the Meiji Jingu: http://http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/your/1.html

Remember to send us your questions and suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover. You can email our info address (info@se.mofa.go.jp) with the subject line “Japan Travel Talk” or post comments on our Facebook page.

See you soon and Happy New Year!

Japan Travel Talk Team