A buzzing centre with top sightseeing and daytrips
Japan’s fourth-largest city, Nagoya is the capital of Aichi Prefecture, best known as the birthplace of Toyota and Mitsubishi Motors. 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.
Nagoya was home to three of Japan’s major feudal lords, but many of the historical sites were destroyed during World War II. Today the city 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.
Things to do: Nagoya
Visit Nagoya Castle and Atsuta Shrine
Join the throngs making the trip to grounds of Nagoya Castle to see the castle keep, Honmaru Palace, watchtowers, gates, tea-ceremony houses, and manicured gardens. (Try time your visit with cherry blossom season!) Built in the Edo Period, the castle’s original buildings were destroyed during WWII. The recently reconstructed palace and its artwork are particularly impressive. A short train-ride away in Southern Nagoya, the Atsuta Shrine is one of Shinto’s most important shrines. See all the swords at the Kusanagi-kan museum and try the kishimen noodles at the restaurant next door.
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Check out the art, science and transport museums
Find the treasures, samurai swords and armour of Nagoya’s former feudal lords at the Tokugawa Art Museum. Next door, the landscaped Japanese garden Tokugawa-en is ideal for a stroll. Learn about all things train-related at the popular SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, and all things cars at the Toyota Techno Museum and Toyota Automobile Museum. For science and stars, head to the Science Museum, home to one of the world’s largest planetariums.
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Shop downtown Sakae and Osu
The downtown area of Sakae is a shopper’s paradise, with many major department stores crowded together near the station. Nadya Park draws a younger crowd for its design and entertainment, as does Sunshine Sakae, home to idol girl group SKE48. For more J-pop and idol goods, make your way to the Osu shopping district, a network of covered streets buzzing with shoppers and diners. Next door, the Osu Kannon Temple draws a quieter crowd.
Have all the fun at Nagashima Resort and Ghibli Park
Pack all the fun you can into a trip to Nagashima Resort. It’s all rides and slides at the resort’s Spaland amusement park and water park, where rollercoasters reign. Its Spa Yuami no Shima hot spring bath complex brings the adrenalin down a notch, while retail therapy rules at Mitsui Outlet Park Jazz Dream outlet mall. Unwind even further Nabana no Sato flower park, famous for its winter illuminations. Completely different but no less wondrous, Ghibli Park will take your animation imagination on a grand adventure.
Take a daytrip to stunning mountain villages
Step into an alpine postcard of thatch-roofed farmhouses as you explore the villages of the UNESCO Heritage-listed Shirakawa-go and Gokayama regions. If you have the time, immerse yourself in the mountain cosiness with an overnight farmhouse stay. In the Hida region, Takayama is a delightful riverside mountain village with a gorgeously preserved old town. Complete your alpine exploring with a daytrip through the Kiso Valley, where delightful old post towns with wooden buildings and stone paths make perfect places to pause.
Distance to city centre 35kmBack to top
When to go
Nagoya is quite hot and humid in the summer, with temperatures often exceeding 30ºC. July and August are the hottest months. The winters are relatively mild, with temperatures staying above freezing for the most part.
Cherry blossom season (late March to early May) is the most popular time to see Nagoya Castle. All that pink is a sight to behold. In February–March, the famed Konomiya Hadaka (Naked) Festival sees men in loin cloths try to obtain good luck from a 'purified' man. The Atsuta Festival in June features martial arts demonstrations and sacred paper, and in July, the city hosts a grand sumo tournament.Back to top
The city has an excellent subway system, which is clearly signposted in English. One-day passes, which include discounted admission to many attractions, are available at stations. The Meguru sightseeing bus also has a one-day pass which includes discounted admissions. For destinations outside the city centre, there are the private Meitetsu and Kintetsu lines and Japan Rail lines.Back to top