Source: Neeson Hsu
A lot of people unfairly think of Nagoya as a short transitory stop between Tokyo and Kyoto. Actually, it is one of those Japanese cities that have been planned really carefully after the Second World War. Today it is a spacious urban area and, due to the Toyota Company, also a very prosperous center offering a lot to see and do. Here are some of the places you must visit and things you must do when you come to Nagoya. You can start with the wonderful ancient temples, shrines, beautiful parks and then go on to more modern places. You won’t get disappointed!
1. Feel the Ancient Times at Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle is certainly one of the most important landmarks in Nagoya. It was one of the biggest castles built at the start of the Edo Period. Unfortunately, most buildings were destroyed during 1945 but many of them have been reconstructed since then. Some parts of the reconstructed castle have wonderfully replicated paintings on their fusuma doors. You are even allowed to watch the reconstruction works on some days. A modern museum has also been opened there where you can learn about the history of this famous castle. The park around the castle has two moats and imposing walls with turrets on their corners. The park itself is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom time.
- Name: Nagoya Castle
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (entry until 4 p.m.)
- Closed: December 29 – January 1
- Price: Adult: 500 yen; Senior Citizen: 100 yen, Children: For Free
- Parking: 180 yen/30 min
- Website: nagoya.jp
2. Enjoy the Beautiful Koshoji Temple
This is a pretty big temple with a spacious yard and numerous statues and a cemetery within. The main hall is dedicated to Amida Nyorai – Buddha’s afterlife. Inside the hall there is a small temple that provides a painless death, as many people believe. Nearby the temple there is a beautiful garden offering modern features and it has become very popular for wedding ceremonies. Along the way to the temple, there are various shops selling everything from souvenirs to clothes and food.
- Name: Koshoji Temple
- Address: Yamada-27-1 Uji, Kyoto Prefecture 611-0021
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (entry until 4.30 p.m.)
- Closed: January 1 to 3
- Price: Free
3. See One of the Three Major Buddha Statues
The Great Buddha of Gifu in Shoho-ji Temple is one of the three most important and biggest Buddha statues in Japan. It is about 13 meters high and it is unique for being made of bamboo plaster with golden leaves. Unlike the most Buddha statues that have their right hands opened, the Gifu Daibutsu looks as if it made an OK sign with its thumb and middle finger put together. It stands in the main hall and surrounding the great Daibutsu there are some much smaller figures – his disciples. Inside the temple there is also the Buddha representing perfect health which is believed to have healing powers.
- Name: Shoho-ji Temple
- Address: 8 Daibutsucho, Gifu, Gifu Prefecture 500-8018
- Hours: 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
- Price: 200 yen
- Accepts Credit Card: No
- Website: gifudaibutsu.com
4. Take a Day Trip to Toyokawa Inari
This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nagoya. It is considered to be among the biggest Inari Shrines in Japan and is established back in 1441. What is unusual, this is a Sodo sect Buddhist Temple and at the same time a Shinto Shrine dedicated to the god of fertility and worldly success. It is also dedicated to the foxes’ god and there are numerous carvings and stone foxes throughout this picturesque place. The old buildings are extremely beautiful and imposing.
- Name: Tokoyawa Inari
- Address: Inari Mikamichō, Toyokawa-shi, Aichi-ken 442-0812
- Hours: 5.00 a.m. – 9.00 p.m.
- Price: Free
5. Take a Day Trip to Inuyama
Inuyama Castle built in 1537 is one of only 12 original Japanese castles that have survived intact. It stands on a small hill and is almost completely built with wood and stones. The interior is wonderfully preserved with the authentic features without any modern additions. If you climb up the steep stair to the top floor, you will be delighted by the stunning scenic views over the surrounding area and the Kiso River. There are various interesting chambers in the castle as well a lookout which was used during war times. When you visit this great place don’t miss the beautiful shrines nearby. Get into the “money washing shrine” or “love shrine”!
- Name: Inuyama Castle
- Address: Kitakoken-65-2 Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture 484-0082
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (entry until 4:30 p.m.)
- Closed: December 29 to 31
- Price: 550 yen
- Website: inuyama-castle.jp
6. Have Fun at Nagoya Port Area
One of the places you should visit is Nagoya Port Area. Yes, this is the major Japanese port and it is remarkable, but it is not only that. Today it features an aquarium, an amusement park with a green space, an observation tower, a shopping mall even a museum. And they are all extremely interesting. The aquarium is one of the largest in Japan offering amazing exhibits such as dolphin shows, a killer whale or a penguin exhibits. And the museum is actually on a ship which once sailed across the seas of Antarctica and it and it shows the sailors’ life on the ship, and their voyage. You will be amazed by the 550 meters tall observation tower with the Maritime Museum in it.
7. Enjoy the Traditional Japanese Drama
When you visit Nagoya, you should go to Nagoya Noh Theater if you want to learn about the traditional Japanese art performance. Here you can see the classical musical drama called Noh which was also performed back in the 14th century. The theater is located near the Nagoya Castle. There is an exhibition room where you can see various displays presenting the history of Noh. From time to time some classical music performances are also held there. The outside of the building looks amazing, too with the cascading water flowing down the wall and all around it there is a beautiful park with a fountain.
- Name: Noh Theater
- Address: 1-1-1 Sannomaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0001
- Hours: 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
- Closed: December 29 to January 1
- Price: Free for Exibiton; Pay/Free for Performance
8. Experience the True Japanese Garden
Ninomaru Garden is a great Japanese garden originally built in the 17th century and it is now a National Historic Site. It was restored and renovated for a couple of times after the wars. The reconstruction of the present garden was based on some old drawings and excavation results. It used to have two ponds filled with water. Today they don’t hold water, but the stone bridges over them and all the other stone formations all around the park are really amazing and its camellia garden is perfect in winter. If you have visited Kyoto garden and loved its stone formations, you will definitely love this one, too.
- Name: Ninomaru Garden
- Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0031
- Hours: 9.00 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
9. Walk Through the Edo Era Styled Garden
Nagoya boasts numerous beautiful gardens and Tokugawa Garden is one of the most interesting ones styled as the Edo Period daimyo gardens. The highlight is a wonderful pond in the central area. The lush greenery makes this place great for people to run away from the hectic city streets and enjoy the stunningly beautiful seasonal flowers. There is also a nice restaurant there, where you can try some really delicious food and get breathtaking views. You can also buy some nice things in the gift shop, or go the auditorium and attend some important seminars or lectures they occasionally organize there.
- Name: Tokugawa Garden
- Address: 1001 Tokugawa-cho, Higashi-Ku, Nagoya, Aichi 461-0023
- Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (entry until 5:00 p.m.)
- Closed: December 29 to January 1
- Price: 300 yen
- Parking: 120 yen/30 min
10. Visit the Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers
Spiral Towers is a building situated on a busy street in Nagoya just in front of Nagoya Station. This is something that will definitely surprise you. The design of this building, which is one of the tallest in Nagoya, is probably completely different to any other you have seen. It is a spiral shaped building and the idea of the shape was thought to foster creativity within the students. There is one more unusual thing about it; it is not an office building, but actually an educational facility housing three schools. It hasn’t got observation decks but it still attracts tourists a lot.
- Name: Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers
- Address: Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers, 4 Chome-27-1 Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi-ken 450-0002, Japan
- Number of Floors (above ground): 36
- Number of Floors (below ground): 3
11. See the Amazing Lights Show at Nagoya TV Tower
Nagoya TV Tower is one of the most popular tourist attractions and symbol of Nagoya. You must experience the amazing lights show at night. You will enjoy the wonderful 360 degree views from the 90 meters high observation deck there. Take some unforgettable photos when there. The Tower is just a short walk away from an underground shopping center and Oasis 21, and there are lots of nice cafes in the area. Below the Tower, you can see a lovely garden with beautiful flowers, especially when the cherry trees bloom. Remember, it a very special place for those in love.
- Name: Nagoya TV Tower
- Address: 3-6-15 Nishiki, Naka-ku, Nagoya
- Hours: 10:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m. (April – December)
10:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. (January – March)
- Price: Adults: 700 yen, Senior Citizen: 600 yen, Children: 300 yen
- Website: nagoya-tv-tower.co.jp
12. Enjoy Shopping at Sakae
Nagoya city’s center – Sakae – is about 2 kilometers away from Nagoya station. This is the area you must visit if you come to this amazing place. There is something for everyone. It is the chief commercial center in Nagoya featuring numerous department stores, shopping malls, cafes and restaurants. You will certainly enjoy shopping and dining there. Wherever you are in Sakae, you can see the beautiful TV Tower and enjoy the views at night or you can choose to visit the most important cultural facilities in the area – Aichi Performing Arts Theater and Aichi Fine Art Museum.
13. Have Fun at Higashiyama Park
Higashiyama Park is a must visit place if you go to Nagoya. If you think of trees and grass area with some benches, you are absolutely wrong. This is actually an amazing place featuring a Zoo, a botanical garden and an amusement park. It is so popular that it welcomes more than two million people every year. After seeing all those lovely creatures at the Zoo, you can enjoy the beauties of the wonderful trees and flowers in the garden and then have fun at the amusement park. After you do all of this, you can climb the 134 meters tall Higashiyama Sky Tower and enjoy the beauty of this huge park from its observation platform.
- Name: Higashiyama Park
- Address: 3-70 Higashiyama Motomachi, Chikusa-ku
- Hours: 9.00 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
- Tel: +81 52-782-2111
14. Enjoy the Oasis in the Urban Area
Shonai Ryokuchi Park is located west of Nagoya Station and it features a boating lake and pick-up soccer games. There is also a great children’s park, some tennis courts, the Green Plaza, a Rose Garden, and an area with a water fountain where you can have some refreshment in the hot summer days. It is a true urban retreat and everybody’s favorite. If you are a bird lover, you will definitely fall in love with this place, since it is one of the best places to bird-watch in Nagoya. And if you come with your family, you will all enjoy the time there, especially the children.
- Name: Shonai Ryokuchi Park
- Address: 3527 Oaza-Kamiotai-azashikichi-yamadacho, Nishi-ku
- Tel: +81 52-503-1010
15. Relax in Onsens
You have probably heard about famous Japanese hot springs in the beautiful mountainous villages, but you don’t have to go all the way there to find some of the nice hot baths. You will be surprised when you learn about the numerous hot springs in and around the city of Nagoya. And get ready to have a wonderful relaxing time in one of them. They don’t only offer a bath. They also offer hot stone spas, massage rooms, even saunas and restaurants. You just have to choose one from the many hot spring hotels in the city of Nagoya.
16. Learn About Samurai Tradition
If you are a historical museums lover, then the content of Tokugawa Art Museum will really impress you. It has some permanent exhibits of traditional suits of armor, swards, even tea ceremony items and beautiful costumes. The museum also shows the history of Japan through various paintings and wall draperies that take you back to the Samurai time. If you decide to visit the place, you will also enjoy the wonderful Tokugawa garden with a beautiful pond in its center and walkways all around it and great greenery.
- Name: Tokugawa Art Museum
- Address: 〒461-0023 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Higashi Ward, Tokugawacho 1017
- Hours: 10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
- Tel: +81 52-935-6262
17. Travel through the History of Industry and Technology
We have already said that this city owes its prosperity to the great Toyota Company. That’s why it might be nice to visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology when you get there. The museum is in the north-east part of the city and it tells you the story of the company; how it started as a very humble company and how it happened to become one of the largest automobile and robot manufacturers in the world. You can go through the entire history of the company there. You will also love the displays of the world’s oldest and latest vehicles.
- Name: Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
- Address: 〒451-0052 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Nishi Ward, Noritakeshinmachi, 4-1-35
- Hours: 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
- Price: Toyota Techno Museum – 500 yen; Toyota Automobile Museum – 1000 yen
18. Visit the World’s Largest Planetarium
Nagoya City Science Museum is the place you must visit not only because you might learn something, it is also a remarkable tourist attraction. It has a lot of highlights and the most interesting are its external appearance and design in the shape of a sphere which is actually the world’s largest 35 meters wide planetarium, an exceedingly realistic sky with the stars shown on the screen, and a room where you can experience the wonderful aurora images. Every month they prepare new themes and projects as well as many fun and interesting programs and interactive activities.
- Name: Nagoya City Science Museum
- Address: 2 Chome-17-1 Sakae, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0008
- Hours: 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
- Closed: Mondays; December 29 to January 1
- Price: 400 yen
19. Walk the World Without a Passport
You will love this open-air museum with reconstructed traditional houses from different parts of the world. It offers great fun for the whole family so it is perfect to take your kids there. You will not only see the houses in their natural environment, you can even taste the food and drinks from various countries and also enjoy the traditional performances, ethnic music and other shows. Try some black coffee in the German house, or see a small winery in the French one. Or you can try on the saree in the Indian house! The Little World is located on two small hills set in the wonderful countryside with lots of greenery and you will enjoy every minute there.
- Name: The Little World Museum of Man
- Address: 〒484-0005 Aichi Prefecture, Inuyama, 今井成沢90−48
- Hours: 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
- Price: Adults: 1700 yen, Senior Citizen: 1300 yen, Children: 300 yen
- Parking: Bus: 1500 yen, Car: 800 yen, Motorcycle: 200 yen
20. Meet the Amazing Ocean Animals in Person
All those sea creature lovers must not miss visiting the great Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium. This is a new and large aquarium divided into five areas showing five different Pacific Ocean ecosystems. You will find the dolphins, whales and sea lions simply spectacular. They put on a lot of wonderful shows and you will love them. The aquarium also performs some scientific research like the breeding of sea turtles. You can see that the people who work there really love the animals and enjoy their work. Various multimedia displays also support all the exhibits, so you can learn a lot about the life of these amazing creatures.
- Name: Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
- Address; 1-3 Minatomachi, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 455-0033
- Hours: 9.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
- Website: nagoyaaqua.jo
21. Visit the Toyota Automobile Museum
The popular Toyota automobile museum is located in one of the Nagoya’s suburbs. If you decide to visit the museum, even though you are not a great fan of vehicles and engines, you will be fascinated by the collection of cars from all around the world as well as those interesting Japanese ones. Many people highly recommend this museum since it is not hard to reach by public transport. Visiting the museum is a nice way to spend a nice afternoon. In addition to the variety of cars, the museum also features a research library, art gallery, gift store, café and children’s area and you will also enjoy the beautiful scenic surroundings.
- Name: Toyota Automobile Museum
- Address: 41-100 Yokomichi, Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture 480-1118
- Hours: 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
- Price: Adults: 1000 yen. Senior Citizen: 500 yen, Children: Free
22. Go to Nagoya Agricultural Center
Nagoya is trying to promote urban agriculture and that’s why they established the Agricultural Center open to public where people can learn things about agriculture as well as experience some of it. The place itself is very attractive with a lot of greenery and makes a good place to have some relaxation away from the city noise. The admission is free and the center also features a café, organic vegetable shops, streams, glass houses even a small model of a farm with pigs, chickens, goats, cows and sheep. You can plan a wonderful picnic with your family when you decide to visit this beautiful place.
- Name: Nagoya Agricultural Center
- Address: 2872-3 Aza kuroishi, Oaza Hirabari, Tenpaku-cho, Tenpa-ku, Nagoya
- Hours: 9:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
- Closed: Mondays
- Tel: +81-52-801-5221
23. Walk Along the Ancient Commercial District
You may not believe it, but the Osu Shopping District has been there for four centuries. Because of the great concentration of important Buddhist temples, it has always been a center of flourishing trade and not only that; it has also become a traditional center of culture and entertainment. There are various kinds of businesses and shops, ranging from those with a very long tradition, to some completely new. Enjoy walking along this famous covered arcade full of various shops and cafes where you can find interesting gifts, strange fashion items and tasty snacks. If you want to get a nice kimono and for a good price, this is the right place to do it.
24. Relax in the Beautiful City Oasis
Perhaps the most beautiful part of Sakae, the shopping, commercial and entertainment center in Nagoya, is Oasis 21. It is an environmentally friendly multi-level park of unique architecture with a “Space ship Aqua” as its symbol. It is a huge circular glass structure filled with water which makes wonderful flows of light. You can enjoy the walk around this glass structure above the ground. The ground level features the green field, with amazing trees and flowers where you can just sit on a bench and relax in the beautiful surroundings. When you get enough of that, you can go underground and visit some of the various shops and restaurants, or you can choose to see some of the performances they often organize in the evenings.
- Name: Oasis 21
- Address: 〒461-0005 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Higashi Ward, Higashisakura
- Hours: 10.00 a.m. – 9.00 p.m.
- Tel: +81 52-962-1011
25. Take a Sky Boat Ride at Sunshine Sakae
This is definitely one of the unique and most interesting landmarks of Nagoya and you must visit it. It is a huge Ferris wheel consisting of 28 glass gondolas overlooking the Sunshine Sakae, the famous seven-story entertainment and shopping complex. The place looks stunning at night illuminated by various bright and colorful lights. The wheel keeps revolving every day and it will take you about 15 minutes to complete the turn while enjoying the spectacular view. When you get enough of that you can go through different sections offering entertainment, games, quality restaurants and cafes, as well as fashion stores, and you can even visit the Ramen museum!
26. Don’t Miss the Nagoya’s Fashion Icon
Among all unique and specific buildings, places and sights, Nagoya also has its own fashion icon – the Gigantic Mannequin Nana-chan and it is a must-see when you are there. It is a huge female mannequin (610 cm and 600 kg) designed in Switzerland placed in front of Meitetsu Department Store as a symbol of the part of the building targeted at the youngsters. Her costumes are regularly changed and all the past costumes can be seen on the website showing the variety of images. It has been there for more than 40 years and it is a popular get-together place for the local people.
27. Walk Through the Railway Park
Railway industry in Japan is extremely important and successful, you must know that. That’s why Nagoya has the Scmaglev and Railway Park, a museum which showcases the improvements and developments in high speed railway through train displays. The displays include those modern high-tech vehicles magnetically levitated as well as old railway engines and carriages. This is a perfect place to learn how this industry impacted everything in Japan: its economy, society, culture – its complete lifestyle. It is a wonderful place where people of all ages can enjoy the great number of different models as well as simulators and learn something new.
- Name: Scmaglev and Railway Park,
- Address: 3 Chome-2-2 Kinjofuto, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 455-0848, Japan
- Hours: 10.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
- Tel: +81 52-389-6100
28. Go Hiking at Nagoya
Nagoya is located in a relatively flat area, but it is surrounded by mountains almost all around. So when you get tired of visiting the museums, gardens and shopping malls, you can go hiking to some of the popular hiking destinations in the area. Their features will certainly satisfy you even if you are a really serious hiker. There is a range of one-day hiking tours to Suzuka Mountains, Low Mountains in Aichi, Nakasendo road, old Tokaido road and many others. Chose the one you think you’ll like and go!
29. Go Jogging in Nagoya Parks
If you are a passionate jogger and you cannot survive without it even on holidays, don’t worry, Nagoya has some really great places for you. One of the best known places is probably Shonai Ryokuchi Park with its two flat jogging paths especially good for starters. Local people love jogging at Higashiyama-dori. They love jogging along the streets with broad sidewalks because they can take long-distance paths. There is Heiwa Park, too, perfectly fit even for athletes. It also offers various practical options for starters.
30. Savor the Famous Kishmen or Ankake-Pasta
Nagoya has specific local foods different from some other places in Japan and you must not leave it without tasting some of its famous kishmen or ankake-pasta. Kismen are flat wheat noodles served in a hot broth and ankake pasta resembles spaghetti, they are just thicker here, and they are served with tasty sauces cooked for hours. They use tomatoes, some meat and different vegetables to prepare this thick delicious sauce. There are lots of various restaurants all over Nagoya, and these are not the only city specialties available everywhere. Try them, you will love them, for sure!
We hope that this will help you a little bit when you are in Nagoya. But this is not all, of course; there is much more, and we leave it to you to find out what! Enjoy!
Have a good trip and travel!