towns-1


A Blend of the Old and New
The Hoi Region

Prologue
Old hoi
Blend of old and new


The Hoi Region is located in southeastern Aichi, about 50 kilometers from the prefectural capital of Nagoya. It consists of two cities --Toyokawa and Gamagori-- and four towns: Otowa, Ichinomiya, Kozakai, and Mito. With its rich natural environment and countless historic and cultural assets, the region is one of Aichi's most important tourism areas. It is also in the process of transforming itself into a brand new type of seaside resort.

The Gamagori Yacht Harbor, a full-scale marina managed by Aichi Prefecture that has overnight lodging facilities. (Photos by Yoshimitsu Koriyama)
The coastline of Gamagori facing Mikawa Bay provides unlimited vistas of the shining blue sea. Every weekend, hundreds of yachts ply the bay, their colorful sails glittering in the bright sunshine like jewels upon the ocean.
 The resort atmosphere is further enhanced by numerous marine sports facilities, including yacht harbors, scattered along the coast. Each of the four hot spring resorts in the city, moreover, has a cluster of modern high-rise hotels, creating a cosmopolitan skyline reminiscent of overseas resort areas.
 Six million tourists of all ages visit Gamagori each year, attracted by the health-giving benefits of the city's hot springs. Gamagori has also achieved national prominence as the Chubu region's leading marine sports center and as the venue for Japan's biggest yacht race, the Erika Cup. Gamagori was also the base of the Nippon Challenge team for the America's Cup--the "Olympics of yachting."
 As a seaside resort, Gamagori already has ample tourism resources and leisure facilities. But according to Fumitoshi Takeuchi of Gamagori Marine Development Co., Gamagori will evolve into an even bigger resort of world-class standing in the twenty-first century.
 Gamagori Marine Development was jointly established in 1991 by the Aichi Prefectural government, Gamagori municipal government, and local companies. Its mission is to turn Gamagori into a totally new type of residential marine resort with a wide range of leisure facilities. It is currently developing Lagnax Island Gamagori, a large-scale complex designed to be in harmony with the natural environment. A 120-hectare site will be reclaimed from the sea on which will be built resort hotels and cottages, together with shopping centers and cultural facilities, including a concert hall and art museum. The target date for completion is 2003.
 Another project currently in progress in Gamagori is Port Renaissance 21. The result of an initiative by port officials in the Aichi Prefectural government, this multifaceted waterfront development scheme is based on cooperation between the public and private sectors. It, too, is transforming Gamagori into a new type of marine resort.


Old Hoi

Ohashi-ya, an inn founded 280 years ago. Step inside its latticework doors and you slip back in time to an earlier era. (Photos by Yoshimitsu Koriyama)
In contrast with Gamagori's development into a modern leisure center, other communities in the Hoi region are focusing on preserving their traditional side. One such municipality is the city of Toyokawa, which once flourished as the home of the Toyokawa Inari Shrine. A popular figure in Japanese folklore, Inari is worshipped as the guardian deity of cereal crops. Inari shrines are associated with red torii gates, and foxes are believed to be Inari's messengers.
 The Toyokawa Inari is one of the three great shrines dedicated to this deity. Established around 550 years ago, the shrine remains an important center of folk religion and continues to attract millions of visitors. Toyokawa has the friendly atmosphere associated with traditional shrine towns and is extremely popular with both Japanese and foreign visitors.
 Next to Toyokawa is the town of Otowa, whose historic charms lie just a few blocks away from the national highway running through it. Along the old Tokaido road, a main thoroughfare during the Edo period (1603-1868), lie quaint wooden houses, each with latticework doors and spacious beaten-earth entrances. There is also a 600-meter avenue lined with huge pine trees, some measuring two or even three arm-spans around. And just beyond the great trees is the Ohashi-ya, a venerable, tranquil inn that has been welcoming travelers for 280 years. The old Akasaka district in the heart of modern-day Otowa featured many lodges for people traveling on the Tokaido-both commoners and feudal lords making their journey to and from Edo (now Tokyo) under the sankin kotai system of residing in the shogunal capital in alternate years.
Blend of old and new
The old Tokaido between Toyokawa and Otowa is a unique tourist attraction in Aichi. Visitors can still enjoy the old-world atmosphere of this former inn town.
 Of the 62 inns that once thrived in Akasaka, only Ohashi-ya still survives. Though the hustle and bustle of former times are gone, visitors can still experience the atmosphere of former times as they stroll along the old road. The ambience of old Japan is this area's biggest appeal.
 Kazuhiro Aoki, the nineteenth-generation proprietor of Ohashi-ya, is determined to maintain this unique tradition. "The task of preserving the past for future generations may seem like an easy thing, but in fact it's extremely difficult. But we'll preserve our inn unchanged for as long as we can."
 At first glance, the development of large-scale marine resorts may seem to be incompatible with the preservation of historic districts. But in the Hoi region, a unique and attractive community is being created through a subtle blending of the old and new.