A centre of industry with excellent shopping and a great base for day trips
Nagoya, capital of Aichi Prefecture and Japan’s fourth-largest city, is best known as the home of Toyota, Honda and Mitsubushi Motors. It was also home to three of Japan’s major feudal lords, but many of the relevant historical sites were destroyed during World War II. The city has been rebuilt as a key industrial centre and today it has a modern feel, with wide, car-friendly streets, a cluster of new skyscrapers downtown and thriving international communities attracted by the employment opportunities here.
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of industry- and technology-related sights in Nagoya, but within easy reach are traditional thatched farmhouses and terraced rice paddies, which makes for an interesting mix of old and new.
Things to do
Brazil nuts welcome
Thanks to its lively Brazilian expat community, Nagoya has excellent Brazilian food on offer. If you need a break from sushi and soba, get your churrasco on at Sapucai in Sakae and follow it with a caipirinha. Then try reading that sentence three times fast.
Say yes to Noh
Nagoya offers visitors a chance to experience the traditional musical performances known as Noh. Performers wear masks and speak and move in highly stylised ways. The Nagoya Noh Theater regularly hosts reasonably priced performances. The accompanying exhibition on the style and history of Noh has lots of information in English and the theatre also periodically stages famous plays with English explanations.
Shop and fly
The downtown area of Sakae is a shopper’s paradise, with many major department stores, including old-school Japanese giants Mitsukoshi and Matsuzakaya, crowded together near the station. Nadya Park draws a younger crowd with its emphasis on design and entertainment. And Sunshine Sakae, home to idol girl group SKE48 opens in new window, draws the teeny-bopper crowd.
Tech your time
Scientists, mechanics and engineers, rejoice! Nagoya is full of sights for you. Learn about all things train-related at the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park opens in new window. Cover car stuff at Toyota Techno Museum opens in new windowand the Toyota Automobile Museum opens in new window. And see the stars at the Science Museum opens in new window, home to one of the world’s largest planetariums.
The sin eater
Many visitors to Japan get 'templed out', but even if you feel you might be susceptible, consider a trip to Toganji anyway. This temple is unusual in Japan for its overt connection to Indian strains of Buddhism. There’s even a shrine to the goddess Saraswati. More importantly, the temple houses a block of wood that’s said to cleanse all past sins if you touch it. Can’t be too safe, after all…
Distance to city centre 35km
Taxi The taxi opens in new window pick-up point is reached via the Access Plaza. The trip downtown should take 50-60 minutes and cost around JPY ¥14-16,000, depending on where you’re going.
Train The Meitetsu Airport Express opens in new window departs frequently to Nagoya Station. It takes around 30 minutes and costs JPY ¥870.
Bus Buses opens in new window go to destinations in central Nagoya and the surrounding area. They take from around 50 minutes and cost from JPY ¥1200, depending on where you want to go.Back to top
When to go
Nagoya is quite hot and sticky in the summer, with temperatures often exceeding 30ºC. July and August should be avoided if you don’t handle heat and humidity well. However, winters are relatively mild, with temperatures staying above freezing for the most part.
Cherry blossom season from late March to early May is the best time to visit, as Nagoya Castle surrounded by pink trees is a sight to behold. The city also hosts a sumo tournament in July.
Numerous big events are held throughout the year, including the Atsuta Festival in June, which features martial arts demonstrations and sacred paper, and the famed Konomiya Hadaka (Naked) Festival in January, where men in loin cloths try to obtain good luck from a 'purified' man.Back to top
Visitors to Nagoya will likely manage just fine on the city’s excellent subway system opens in new window, clearly signposted in English. One-day passes, which include discounted admission to many attractions, are available at stations. There are also the private Meitetsu and Kintetsu lines and Japan Rail lines for destinations outside the city centre.
There’s also a loop bus called Meguru opens in new window that stops at many popular tourist sites, particularly museums; the one-day pass also includes discounted admissions.
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