Okazaki City is a balance of the new and old, historic and contemporary, rural and urban. Although a modern city with high tech industries, advanced manufacturing and prestigious research institutes, Okazaki City also has a long history and has preserved its traditions and character despite its proximity to Nagoya, and the rapid growth it has experienced during the past 20 years.
Okazaki Castle is the focus of the city, first built in 1455. Birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, seat of the feudal daimyo rulers of the Mikawa fief during the Edo period, the Okazaki Castle grounds are now known as Okazaki Park, and form the center stage for some of Okazaki’s major festivals such as the Ieyasu Gyoretsu (early April), Wisteria Festival (early May) and Fireworks Festival (first Saturday of 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 Although these days the Tokaido has been replaced by expressways and railroads, with high tech manufacturing and advanced services the mainstay of the local economy, the traditional products of Okazaki such as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 fermented soybean paste), stoneworks, fireworks (Okazaki firms totally dominate Japan’s hanabi industry) and many local arts and crafts remain.
Okazaki covers 387 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.