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City Introduction

A program at Yamasa offers opportunities not only to study the language, but also to personally experience a wide range of educational and cultural activities most students in Japan never have the opportunity to see - let alone do. Located in the heartland of Aichi Prefecture, Yamasa is in a city with a population of nearly 370,000 people. With its ancient temples, castle and battlefields, and its shopping malls, high tech research labs and modern manufacturing base, Okazaki City is a balance of the new and old, historic and contemporary, rural and urban, lively and liveable. Although it is only 40km from central Nagoya to the west, and only 20 minutes from Toyohashi to the east, Okazaki has had no trouble managing to retain its individuality - despite its rapid growth and the fact that it is one part of an conurbation of just over 7 million people. This is due in large part to its unique and important position in Japanese history.

A former castle town with a rich cultural heritage, Okazaki City is renowned for its history & traditions. The modernization of Japan has transformed many urban areas into a sea of concrete, and although much of the old streetscape is lost, many of the historical sites and a very large extent of the city's intangible cultural assets such as its arts, traditional crafts, festivals and ceremonies have remained. One of the main attractions of Okazaki is that not only can you see this history, you can also participate in it. In Okazaki City, history is not just the past, but a living present. You can see much of the thousand plus years of rich heritage, and while learning Japanese also participate in the festivals, study the arts, and contribute to a local culture that values and has a great respect for its history and origins.

Okazaki City is one of the fastest growing and most prosperous cities in Japan due to its advanced science and technology base. In addition to the National Research Institutes, many prominent Japanese manufacturing companies such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, SONY, Makita etc are based in or near the city or maintain production facilities and research & development centers in Okazaki. The city covers 387.24 square kilometers, which includes large forested areas in the hills covering much of the east. Even in the spreading urban sections of the city, the population density is fairly low by Japanese standards, with many parks and outdoor recreation facilities, affordable housing and a laid back pace.

Okazaki Castle

The Castle, the symbol of Okazaki
& birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu

Okazaki Castle stands where the Sugo (Oto) and Yahagi rivers meet, just 15 minutes from our campus. The castle was of strategic importance in Japanese history, and was the birthplace of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the warlord unifier of Japan who was fictionalized in the novel "Shogun" and perhaps the most important single figure in the making of modern Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) founded the shogunate in Edo (now Tokyo) in 1603 that endured for more than 260 years after surviving a turbulent era of civil warfare through a combination of military skill and political treachery. The castle is a focus for the city, and besides offering a peaceful respite from busy downtown Okazaki, it instills a certain pride in the maintenance of the city's traditional culture - hosting many of the festivals such as the Ieyasu Gyoretsu (April), Wisteria Festival (May) and Fireworks Festival (August).

Okazaki was also a key post town on the old Tokaido highway, with many of sites of interest. Although these days the Tokaido has been replaced by expressways and railroads, with high tech manufacturing and advanced services the mainstay of the local economy, the traditional products of Okazaki such as Hatcho Miso (a famous and full flavored femented soybean paste), stoneworks, fireworks (Okazaki firms still dominate Japan's hanabi industry) and many local arts and crafts remain.

For more detailed information on Okazaki City, please browse the online version of the Okazaki City Guide.

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Hattori Foundation (est.1919) - The Yamasa Institute
1-2-1 Hanehigashi-machi, Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, JAPAN 444-0832
Tel: +81 (0)564 55 8111 Fax: +81 (0)564 55 8113 Email: Inquiries

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