KANAE Toyokawa: A Unique Luxurious Experience at Toyokawa Inari
Experience Toyokawa: A Journey Beyond Tourism
In the diverse tapestry of Japan’s tourism, from leisurely walking tours to vibrant bar-hopping escapades, emerges an offering for those thirsting for a truly unique experience: KANAE Toyokawa.
This is not just any tour; KANAE Toyokawa transcends the usual sightseeing, offering an immersive dive into Japan’s heart, seamlessly merging the traditional with the contemporary. Whether it’s culture, art, or gastronomy, KANAE Toyokawa intertwines past and present, curating a journey unlike any other.
At the historical backdrop of Toyokawa Inari, a trove of unforgettable experiences beckons, promising a profound connection to the spirit of Japan, and I had the opportunity to experience it. In this article, I will share with you my experience as well as my thoughts about this new tour you can be part of in Toyokawa, Aichi!
*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.
What is KANAE Toyokawa?
Discover a unique blend of Japan’s deep-rooted stories and modern allure with KANAE Toyokawa, a luxury tour brought to you by OUGI.
Designed as a supreme tourist experience, this tour encapsulates Toyokawa’s rich history, cultural treasures, performing arts, delectable cuisine, comfortable accommodations, and exquisite crafts. KANAE invites you to immerse yourself in the spirituality and cultural depths of Japan through a breathtaking perspective.
Toyokawa’s significance is timeless. Celebrated warlords like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu once revered this place, and today, it shines in the spotlight of modern social media. Bridging the age-old traditions with contemporary charm, KANAE Toyokawa, which started in September 2023, offers travelers an unparalleled journey into the heart of a region where the past and present harmoniously coexist
About Toyokawa Inari
First of all, for those who don’t know about Toyokawa Inari, let me quickly explain.
Toyokawa Inari (豊川稲荷) in Aichi prefecture is a prominent and historic site, renowned as one of Japan’s three major Inari shrines.
Established during the Muromachi period in 1441, it boasts a history of nearly 600 years. The shrine attracts a staggering number of visitors, with around 5 million people making their pilgrimage annually. Its main building is named “Toyosenkaku Myogonji.” Contrary to the typical association of Inari shrines with Shinto, Toyosenkaku Myogonji is a unique Soto Zen temple. It was founded by the revered Tokai Giyoshi Zenji in the same year the shrine was established.
This blend of Shinto and Zen Buddhism elements makes Toyokawa Inari not only a spiritual hub but also a testament to Japan’s rich cultural and religious tapestry.
My Experience with KANAE Toyokawa
From here, let me share with you my experience with KANAE Toyokawa.
1. Arriving at the location
The tour starts directly from Toyokawa Inari (豊川稲荷). To get there, first, you need to get to Toyokawa Station (豊川駅) which is about an hour away from Nagoya Station by train. As soon as you arrive at Toyokawa Station or Toyokawa-Inari Station, you will immediately notice the Fox motif everywhere (the fox is considered the messenger of Inari).
In my case, I started the tour at the entrance of Toyokawa Inari. However, usually, you would start at the Jihoukan (寺宝館), located on the left side of the vicinity of Toyokawa Inari. Here is where your immersive tour starts and you will be navigating this tour using a special app that will download into your mobile phone.
The first thing you will do is walk through the Toyokawa Inari Omotesando (豊川いなり表参道) which is a shopping street connecting Toyokawa station and Toyokawa Inari.
2. Mask Painting Experience
The first stop we made at the shopping street was at a mask shop called Shikigitsune (一年狐). They have a wide variety of Kitsune (fox) masks masterfully painted by the shop owner.
Here, you can choose from various types of blanc masks to paint and decorate as you wish. The shop has a second floor where you can borrow painting materials such as acrylic paints and brushes. You can get inspiration from the existing masks in the shop, or you can come up with a completely original idea of yours!
It is a fun activity you can enjoy with friends and family. The owner of the shop is very friendly and would teach us various fun facts about the Inari fox.
*Note: depending on the number of participants in the tour, the location for this activity might be changed to another place.
3. Taste the great street food as well as the restaurants
After finishing painting our Kitsune masks, it was the perfect time to have lunch. This shopping street has various delicious restaurants from which you can choose, and on this occasion, we decided to have Unagi (sea eel) at a restaurant called Soganoken (曽我の軒).
Unagi is one of the Japanese delicacies when it comes to seafood and Aichi prefecture is famous for having great Unagi restaurants. The Unagi at this restaurant was exquisite and I totally recommend it.
There are also other Unagi restaurants as well as Inari-zushi shops aligned on this street, so be sure to check them out as well.
4. Enjoy the street performances
As we were walking through the shopping street, we encountered a street performance. First, we encountered a Chindonya (ちんどんや). Chindonya is a traditional Japanese street advertising method where performers in vibrant costumes parade streets playing instruments to promote local businesses or events.
In this case, the group performing music while parading through the shopping street led us to the next street performance which took place in the Yakushinyoraido (薬師如来堂) which is a small Buddhist temple at the side of the shopping street. Here, we got to see a short theatrical performance inspired by the legend of the Inari fox. The performance was a non-verbal, Chaplinesque, comical play that at times involves the crowd in a playful manner.
5. Experience the fusion of traditional culture and modern art at the Jihoukan
After the short theatrical play. we arrive at the main location, the Toyokawa Inari.
Before going to the main building, we went to the Jihoukan (寺宝館) which is a building where they keep the important artifacts safely. Here, there were three different experiences waiting for us.
First, we saw a fashion performance with traditional music and dances. The performers were wearing clothing made by renowned fashion designer Mori Yumi. The pieces worn by the performers as well as other pieces they have on display at the location are one-of-a-kind and you can purchase them at that spot. It is a great opportunity to get to wear these pieces that cannot be easily found online.
Next, we saw an exhibition of paintings by the globally renowned artist specializing in ink paintings, Yuki Nishimoto (西元祐貴). You can also purchase some of these art pieces right there if you wish, which is something you can’t do easily elsewhere.
And lastly, we saw an artistic musical performance. Modern dance music, traditional dance, and Shodo (Japanese calligraphy) merged to create a completely unique show that it’s hard to explain with words (you have to see it by yourself to appreciate it).
6. Be part of a praying session at the Honden
After this experience, we got the opportunity to participate in a praying session at the main building, the Toyokawakaku Myogonji (豊川閣妙厳寺).
Before the praying session started, we were taken to a waiting room where we were given a piece of paper to write down what we wished to pray for (alongside a list of things you can actually pray for).
*Side note: Toyokawa Inari is known for its blessings, such as business prosperity and household safety.
Then, we went to the main building to be part of the praying session. During the praying session, the Monk will read out loud the names and wishes of each visitor. It is a “must-have” experience if you ask me.
After the praying session, a gift and an Omamori from the Temple are given to you.
7. Visit the impressive Reikozuka with a thousand fox statues
After the praying session, we had time to walk around the vicinities of Toyokawa Inari. We visited the famous Reikozuka (霊狐塚) which is the area where you will find all the fox statues.
It is said that there are around 1,000 fox statues (of all shapes and sizes you can imagine) in this place. The reason you will see so many fox statues is that people come back to this shrine after their wishes come true to purchase a fox statue to add to the place.
8. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the dinner show
For the grand finale of this immersive tour, we went to the Saishoden (最祥殿) where we enjoyed a dinner show.
The food served is Shojin Ryori (精進料理) which is a type of Japanese vegetarian meal. This is paired with local Sake. While you enjoy your meal, a variety of performances take place right in front of you. From musical and dance performances to sword fighting and singing. There is also a time when you can get to talk with the performing cast and get to experience Ozashiki Asobi (お座敷遊び) which are games usually played in a setting with geisha or maiko.
In the end, we got time to take photos with the cast members before the whole experience came to an end.
The KANAE Toyokawa Tour was definitely a unique experience. By not simply following the lead of a tour guide, there is a certain freedom you have when wandering through the shopping street. But at the same time, you have the lead of the app that is provided to you. You also get to encounter street performances where not only you are participating but all the people around are part of the experience.
Also, the wide variety of experiences that you have during this tour are memorable. From the cozy, mask painting experience and the Zen Praying sessions to artistic performances, art exhibitions, and the dinner show. Each and every part of this experience has a strong impact that you will definitely want to take back home and tell your friends!
Another thing you should know is that this tour has various levels of pricing, each level providing a different combination of contents. The tour that I was part of was the S rank, for your reference.
For more information about the tour as well as booking, be sure to check out their website from the link below.
Kanae Toyokawa Official Website: https://ougi-japan.com/kanae/en/
OUGI offers luxury travel experiences that delve deep into Japan’s authentic essence, far beyond mere monetary opulence. Rather than just packaging the usual tourist spots, OUGI takes you on a journey through Japan’s rich traditions, heartfelt cultural warmth, and breathtaking natural beauty. Over the next five years, they aim to customize these experiences across 23 cities, tailored to individual traveler’s tastes. So, if you’re keen on immersing yourself in the genuine Japanese narrative, OUGI promises an unparalleled adventure.
OUGI Official Website: https://ougi-japan.com/
I hope this report has helped to spark an interest in you for this unforgettable experience that the city of Toyokawa has to offer you! If you have a chance to visit Aichi prefecture or the surrounding areas, be sure to take this tour into account!
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