Home to automobile giants Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi, Nagoya has truly seen through its turbulent times during the World War II to flourish into a major economic hub. The city is filled with charming attractions, towering skyscrapers and historical sites that make it the well-rounded city the world loves. Stroll through the city streets and you’ll discover a harmonious blend of old and new in the well-preserved streets, wonderful gardens, tranquil shrines and of course, shopping arcades.
Best of Nagoya
1. Nagoya Castle
If you spot the astounding structure with the two golden carps on the roof, you’ll know that you’ve reached Nagoya Castle. One of the most important castles in Japan, bask in the rich history behind the Edo-period building or get a history lesson in the castle museum. Head on over to the observation deck for a great view of Nagoya, or take a walk in the gardens as well!
2. Kakamigahara Aerospace Museum
Dreamt of flying? A 50-minute train ride away from Nagoya station will land you at this amazing large-scale facility where you’ll be able to see 35 real airplanes and rockets, sit in the cockpits and see what it feels like to be a pilot! Aviation geeks will definitely find this fascinating.
3. Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
Time to make new friends, and best ones are always the biggest! Say hello to Bingo and Stella, the killer whale couple with a penchant for swimming and fresh seafood, along with their two daughters. Once you’re done, come on over to greet the bumbling penguins, sea turtles, dolphins and a whole lot of fishes!
4. Nagoya City Science Museum
The museum has become Nagoya’s most iconic landmark with its huge silver sphere and one of the largest planetariums in the world. There are always new things to learn about with seven stories of interesting exhibits which stress on “watch, touch and discover” experience.
5. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
Even if you’re not an automotive fan or a mechanical engineer you will still enjoy this museum! You will be guided from the original red brick factory where they started their automated looming throughout the evolution to an automotive giant with displays, videos and hands-on experience.
6. Atsuta Jingu
As a highly revered Shinto shrine since the ancient times, Atsuta Jingu receives around 9 million visitors annually. It is believed to be the home of the sacred sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi, one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan (Mikusa no Kandakara) which was bestowed by Amaterasu-Omikami (the goddess of sun and the universe) herself.
7. Osu Kannon
Kitanosan Shinpuku-ji Hosho-in or popularly known as Osu Kannon is a Buddhist temple conveniently located in the area known as “the Asakusa of Nagoya” for its feel-good old town atmosphere. Aside from the temple itself, there is also a flea market on the temple grounds, but only on the 18th and 28th of each month.
8. Tokugawa Art Museum
If you are the kind of person who knows about the feudal lords who once ruled ancient Japan, this museum is a must visit. If you are the kind of person who don’t even know who the Tokugawa were, this is the place to get yourself educated with more than 10,000 pieces of collection including National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.
9. Nagashima Resort (Nagashima Spa Land)
For a day of fun for the entire family, visit this sprawling entertainment centre just outside of Nagoya City. It consists of an amusement park famous for its roller coasters, a hot spring complex with both indoor and outdoor baths, a shopping mall and a flower park.
10. Osu Shopping Arcade
A little bit of everything – that’s the word to describe this shopping area. With the many shops and varieties of shops spread throughout many streets, here is where every shopaholic can come for a dose of retail therapy. The nearby Osu Kannon temple is for those seeking some serenity. Buy a good luck charm or check out the twice-a-month flea market in front of the temple.
If you love miso, you will love Nagoya. The sauce made from fermented soybeans and grain is a constant in the culinary scene here, and the local Misokatsu dish (fried pork cutlet with rich, red miso sauce) or Miso Nikomi Udon (wheat flour noodle in red miso soup) is definitely a memorable one to have here in Nagoya.
Shirakawa-go is a quiet and intimate village famous for its beautiful farmhouses in the form of gassho-zukuri (Japanese for “constructed like hands in prayer”), a traditional style of building characterised by a thatched and slanting roof. UNESCO has granted this village a World Heritage Site status along with Gokayama.
A city famous for its strong traditional character, Takayama is the place to be for those who want to get a feel of old Japan. Buildings from Edo Period ranging from shrines to sake breweries have been beautifully preserved in Takayama’s Old Town, and the famous Takayama Festival is not to be missed.
A popular leisure destination for the people of Nagoya and Osaka, Ise Shima is a place of natural and cultural beauty. It is also the home of the Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine, Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu-Omikami, the most venerated deity in Shinto belief.