Japan is a long, narrow nation stretching from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Just as the climate differs with each prefecture, so the temperament and values of people in each prefecture differ as well. Knowing these local traits might help your travels across Japan to be smoother. This series of articles will introduce the unique characteristics of each prefecture, and this time we take a light-hearted look at Aichi.
Stingy and Ostentatious
Perhaps due to the fact that the Owari clan, which ruled Nagoya in the Edo Period, promoted thrift and saving, the people of Aichi are known for being conservative and stingy. For them, cheap is good. They are sound and utilitarian. As they don't trust others, most of them prefer to keep their savings at home. They also like to show off and stand out. As they don't really trust strangers, it takes time to be accepted by them.
It Straddles East and West Japan
If you check the definition of “East Japan” in a dictionary, it is “a general term for areas to the east of and including the Chubu region”. While for “West Japan”, it is “a general term for areas to the west of and including the Chubu region” (Chubu = central part, with Aichi being most notable). So it appears that the Chubu region can be both East or West Japan.
Worst Driving Manners No.1
People in Aichi are quite notorious for their bad driving manners. Aichi's traffic accident rate ranked the highest in terms of road-traffic deaths among Japan's 47 prefectures for 15 consecutive years (as of 2018). In recent years, the term “Nagoya-bashiri" (literally "Nagoya Run," meaning "Nagoya Driving") has become common to describe traffic manners that are so poor they cannot be compared with driving in other prefectures. Drivers do not hesitate to go on an amber light, and even when the light is red, they will proceed based on their judgment of the traffic conditions. You should be careful when driving even if you are following the rules, or as a pedestrian.
The morning service in cafés is wonderful!
It is common for cafés in Nagoya to serve toast and a hard-boiled egg when you order a drink for breakfast. There are even cafés that serve bread, boiled eggs, all-you-can-eat salad, and drinks for the price of one coin (500 yen)! In Nagoya, it is a custom to have a cup of coffee at a café after a morning walk, so this extra morning service can be found everywhere in Nagoya. Also, manga cafés originated in Nagoya. It is said that they started when proprietors put a lot of manga in their shops as a tactic to attract more customers.
No Red Miso, No Life
Miso cutlet, miso udon, miso oden, etc. The food culture of Aichi Prefecture cannot be described without red miso. Even oden from convenience stores comes with miso paste. In the supermarket, tubes of miso are displayed along with sauces and soy sauces.
Starbucks ✖ Komeda Coffee ✔
Aichi people take pride in the local coffee shop chain, “Komeda Coffee”. Since its establishment in 1968, it has been the place for seniors and families to relax from the early morning. It is a fusion of café and family restaurant with a wide variety of drinks and food. All the food is served in large portions with “Shiro Noir” (shown above) being the signature item. The sofas are comfortable. Once you sit on one, you won't feel like getting up. There are plenty of newspapers and magazines in the shop too. It is a restaurant that best reflects Japanese hospitality.
Weddings are Extravanganzas
“People from Nagoya are show-offs”. A good example that supports this common belief is the extravagance of weddings. “Family with 3 daughters in Nagoya will go bankrupt”, “Marry a Nagoyan if you want a bride”. These were common sayings in the old days. An example of a flashy Nagoya wedding style includes driving a truck fully loaded with the trousseau through the town. A snack shower also takes place on the day of the wedding. Before the couple departs for the wedding hall, lots of snack bags of the size of a pillow are thrown from upstairs windows, while the gathered neighbors scramble to get them.
In Japan, there are many incredible characteristics that are unique to each prefecture. Please also check out other articles in this series. Comment and tell us which other prefecture’s characteristics you want to know about.