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…
Travel time 1 hour
Taxi Approx JPY ¥12,000-16,000
Bus to downtown takes 45-85 minutes and costs JPY ¥1,000
Train to Nagoya Station takes about 30 minutes and costs JPY ¥870Bus fare downtown is JPY ¥1,000 and the trip takes anywhere from 45 to 85 minutes. Buses also run to other parts of Chubu. The trip by taxi takes around an hour and costs JPY ¥12,000-16,000, depending on your destination. Chubu Centrair International Airport offers easy access to Nagoya via the Meitetsu Line. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs JPY ¥870 (JPY ¥1,230 for first-class express). At Nagoya Station, travellers can connect to Nagoya subway lines, Japan Rail lines, Kintetsu lines and the bullet train. 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 six subway lines, which charge JPY ¥200-320 per ride depending on the distance. One-day passes are available at stations for JPY ¥740. There are also the private Meitetsu and Kintetsu lines and Japan Rail lines for sites outside the city centre.
There’s also a loop bus called Meguru that stops at many popular tourist sites, particularly museums. It costs JPY ¥200 for a single ride or JPY ¥500 for a one-day pass, which also includes discount on tickets to some attractions.Back to top