Inuyama Castle, located in Inuyama City in Aichi Prefecture, is said to be the oldest original castle in Japan. Many other castles are actually reconstructions.
Since it was Golden Week at the time of our visit, there were a clutch of food stalls just before the path up to the entrance gate. One of the booths belonged to Loreley Brewery. We bought two real German sausages (no wieners here!) and two locally-brewed beers. We also picked up a flyer for their all-you-can-eat Golden Week buffet. More on that later.
We got tickets, joined the line and went round the castle. You need to buy your ticket at the booth before you join the line. The line leads directly to the entrance, not a place to buy tickets. The only information I saw about this was in written Japanese, so take care because the line is a long one. All the original castles I’ve visited have had very steep staircases inside, so dress appropriately. Once you’ve made it to the top, you can walk around the turret area for a good view of the local area and the river Kiso.
Our ticket also allowed us entrance to two much smaller museums just a short walk away from the castle. One was mainly about the Inuyama Festival and the other was dedicated to terrifying haunted dolls known as karakuri. From there, we walked to Inuyama Station and caught a bus at the east exit (on the far side of the station) to Meiji Mura (The more detailed Japanese site can be found here).
Meiji Mura is Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum’s lesser-known big sister. Established in 1965, the grounds contain a wider range of buildings over a square kilometre of land. In fact, there is a tram network within Meiji Mura to get you around. You can either pay for individual tickets or buy an all-day pass when you buy your entrance ticket.
There are some great opportunities for macro photography, particularly at places like Dr. Shimizu’s office. You can see a few of ones I took below. Just like any picture in this blog post, you can get a larger version by clicking on them.
One thing you shouldn’t miss is the night maze, although there may be a wait. For five minutes, you walk around a maze in pitch blackness. There are a few surprises, mind you, although no ghosts.
Nearby is a (free) brick maze. I enjoyed it, although I almost collided with a Japanese man who was racing his kid (and I racing my partner). We screamed ‘gomen!’ at each other and kept going, because mazes are Serious Business. For the record, I won.
We had mango kakigoori (shaved ice) outside Lafcadio Hearn’s summer house. It was made with one of those old-fashioned ice-shavers that cut up blocks of ice into fine snow. They layered the syrup too, resulting in the best kakigoori ever.
We stayed right up until the last minute and caught the only bus available, which took us to back to Inuyama Station. From there, we went to Haguro Station, giving us a ten minute walk to the brewery. If you want to go too, I hope you have a proper map instead of the bizarre geometric one Loreley use for advertising.
Inside we got a craft beer sampler set and access to a large buffet including sushi, shumai, cake and roast beef. It was fantastic (particularly the beef), but the highlight was the beer. Our sampler set consisted of three types of beer from Loreley Brewery next door, each a different shade and texture.
It’s difficult to believe all these photographs were taken in a single day. However, you might want to break it up a little and spend longer at Meiji Mura.