If you love the smell of ocean air, the scenery of water, rocky beaches, nature hikes, history, and delicious seafood, and you want to experience Japan off the beaten path, Gamagori is one of the places you should add to your list of travel destinations in Japan.
Gamagori City, 40 minutes away by train from Nagoya, is located in the south of Aichi Prefecture. It is a popular seaside resort as well as a hot spring Onsen resort with its four Onsen areas: Miya Onsen, Gamagori Onsen, Katahara Onsen, and Nishiura Onsen.
Try the Delicacies of Gamagori: From Deep-Sea Fish to the Finest Meat.
Japan is surrounded by bountiful oceans in every direction and has access to an abundant selection of seafood that may vary depending on the region and season. Among other places in Japan, Aichi Prefecture has a long history of fishing in the bountiful Pacific Ocean, as it faces Mikawa Bay.
A wide variety of fish and seafood is caught in the Mikawa Bay from short-necked clams to Kuruma prawns, and horse crab. Deep-sea fishing is one of the characteristics of this region and the delicious catch is served at many restaurants in the area.
Known as Akaza-Ebi in Japan, Japanese lobster is a large prawn-like species that can be found at depths of 200 to750 meters. It boasts a fantastic taste, sweeter and softer than the regular lobster.
Another deep-sea fish is the round green-eyed fish called Mehikari (Greeneyes). Mehikari can be found at depths of 200 to 300 meters. It has a length of 15 to 20 centimeters, and it is caught only in the spring and winter months.
But it’s not all seafood in Gamagori. Another local specialty, Mikawa beef, is raised in the plains and low mountains around the city. It is the finest Wagyu beef of the Aichi region and. has a mellow texture, juicy tenderness that melts in the mouth. We recommend you try Mikawa beef cooked in the iron griddle Teppanyaki style or the Sukiyaki style cooked in a hot pot with local vegetables.
Both Gamagori seafood and Mikawa beef can be enjoyed at Steak & Seafood Rokkakudo, the dining restaurant inside the Gamagori Classic Hotel.
Gamagori Offers Plenty of Fun and Unique Activities.
The seaside location of Gamagori can offer more than simply access to delicious seafood. Gamagori’s seaside location also offers very unique and fun activities not limited to walks at the beach.
Takeshima Island and Yaotomi Shrine
Takeshima Island, considered the symbol of Gamagori, is connected to Gamagori by a footbridge. It is said that crossing the bridge brings luck to couples. In the center of this small island, is a Shinto shrine called Yaotomi Shrine dedicated to the goddess of good fortune, safety, and marriage. After visiting the shrine, enjoy the walk around the island and the spectacular views not only of Gamagori but also Mikawa Bay.
At Takeshima beach, the beach facing Takeshima Island, you can experience a popular local activity, digging for clams. You can dig up and take home as many clams as you like with your bare hands. Bringing a beach bucket or at least a plastic bag is the only thing you need to participate in this activity held from early April to early June each year.
Takeshima Island and Yaotomi Shrine (竹島・八百富神社)
Entry Fee: free
Address: Takeshimacho, Gamagori, Aichi 443-0031
Located in Katahara Town and looking out over Mikawa Bay is the Yamamoto Fisheries, a local market selling fish and other seafood products.
Local specialties include the Mikawa Bay dried young sardines, which are very popular as souvenirs and famous throughout the country. Other produce sold here are clams, blue crab, Kuruma prawns, shrimp crackers, boiled fish paste.
Seaside Literary Memorial Museum (Umibe No Bungaku Kinenkan)
This small museum exhibits works of writers from Gamagori as well as works by the Nobel Prize-winning Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata.
The museum was built to commemorate the Ryokan “Tokiwakan”, a beloved traditional Japanese inn that was located on the Takeshima coast. The museum also exhibits some wooden decorations as well as fine china and pottery used in the old hotel. At the back of the museum, there is a reproduction of a traditional tea room overlooking the sea where you can have a cup of Matcha green tea or coffee.
One of the coolest services that this museum offers is that visitors can post a letter to themselves to be delivered in 2 months, 5 years, 8 years, or even 10 years’ time.
Other attractions in Gamagori you might be interested in
Gamagori has a lot of scenery and activities. If you want to keep yourself busy and entertained for hours you will love to visit these other spots.
– Katahara Onsen, a famous spot for its amazing hydrangea garden blooming in July, during the rainy season.
– Laguna Ten Bosch, a theme park with multiple entertainment zones like theme park rides, a 360-degree 3D theatre, female-only musical performances, a market shopping mall, and an Onsen.
The best hotels in Gamagori
Since Gamagori is a seaside resort town, it has many hotels and traditional Japanese inns with spas located right at the coast, with excellent sea views.
Gamagori Classic Hotel
Gamagori Classic Hotel is a beautiful art Deco-style boutique hotel that offers a quiet and cozy atmosphere with an amazing Japanese garden. The hotel has more than 100 years of history and it hosted the Japanese Imperial Family many times.
The hotel has a seafood & steak house restaurant and a traditional Japanese restaurant where Kaiseki cuisine is served using regional ingredients. At the tea lounge and bar, you can enjoy the most exquisite sweets along with a cup of tea served by a tea sommelier.
The hotel is highly recommended for couples, small groups, and solo travelers.
Book your stay here
Other hotels you may be interested in
Other recommended hotels in the area are Henn na Hotel Laguna Ten Bosch, a very peculiar hotel where you will be served by robots, and Hiranoya Hotel, a traditional Japanese Inn that boasts natural hot springs.
Festivals in Gamagori
There are many annual festivals held in Gamagori:
Miya Festival is a traditional float festival with more than 300 years of history. Four big floats are pulled by costumed participants from Yatsurugi Shrine to Wakamiya Shrine. You can experience a strong connection between Gamagori and the sea during this festival as it is one of few festivals where the floats are pushed into the ocean.
The Gamagori Festival is a popular fireworks festival displaying fabulous star mines and water fireworks. It also features street dances, food stalls, and many other attractions.
Katahara Hydrangea Festival
Located in the hot spring area of Katahara Onsen, the festival features a beautiful Hydrangea garden with more than 50,000 hydrangeas in bloom. You can enjoy the flowers during the daytime and again when the night falls and the garden turns into magical scenery.
How to Get Here
If you are coming from Tokyo Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen (bullet train) to Toyohashi Station. Switch to JR Tokaido Line and get off at Gamagori Station.
If you are coming from Nagoya Station take the JR Tokaido Line bound for Toyohashi and get off at Gamagori Station.
For a very unique experience, you can also book the Higashimikawa Restaurant bus. The open double-decker bus that departs from Hotel Arc Riche in Toyohashi City functions as a means of transportation as well as a restaurant serving regional and local food.
NOTE: The bus is just riding a few days per month and the website is Japanese only. Check the service days here.
While you can explore Gamagori on foot or using public transport, If you want to make the trip even more fun, we recommend renting for free an electric bicycle at the Gamagori Tourism Office, located inside the Gamagori Station. The service is available 7 days a week, from 9:30 to 16:30.
Find out more about Gamagori by visiting the Gamagori Tourism website.