Nagoya is the largest city in Aichi prefecture and the center of the third largest metropolitan area in Japan after Tokyo and the Osaka area. Situated between Tokyo and Osaka over 8 million people live in the Nagoya area with just over 2 million in Nagoya proper. Nagoya is an industrial center with Toyota being headquartered there. Most of the city was destroyed during the fire bombings of world war two. The inhabitants of Nagoya however were hardworking and quickly rebuilt it after the war. Today it has its fair share of temples and shrines, as well as quite a popular Shinkansen museum and 3 Toyota museums. Nagoya’s immediate vicinity also has its share of attractions. Below are the major ones.
How to get there
You can fly in to Nagoya as the city has an international airport named Chubu Centrair International Airport. Most foreign visitors to the city however come from Tokyo. A one way trip from Tokyo by the Shinkansen takes less than two hours and costs about 10.000 Yen. If you are on a tight budget the bus from Tokyo takes about 6-9 hours and costs 4000 Yen or less.
Things to see and do
Nagoya is a major industrial center, it is therefore not surprising that many of its attractions center on technology and transportation. One of the most popular sight in the city is the SCMAGLEV and Railway park a museum dedicated to high speed travel. Anybody interested in the Shinkansen or trains in general should take note. The museum has steam trains from the past, modern Shinkansen as well as the stuff of the future. In total there are around 40 trains in the museum on display, there is also a train simulator where you can drive your own train. It isn’t free however, prices are 100-500 Yen and reservations must be made in advance at the museum information desk. To get to the museum you take the Aonami line to Kinjofuto station. Tickets for the museum are 1000 Yen.
If you are a Toyota fan and want to know how the cars are made, the history of the company, its future plans or even the plant itself then Nagoya city is packed with Toyota Museums. The first one is the Toyota Kaikan Museum, where the company´s newest models are introduced. Its also possible to take a tour of the Toyota plant itself, this is done once a day from Monday to Friday, you must however make an online reservation in advance. The tours themselves start at the Toyota Kaikan. You can also visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of technology and Industry which tells you all about the history of Toyota and also explains how the cars are made. If old cars are your forte then the Toyota Automobile museum is your place. For the Toyota Kaian take the Tsurumai Subway Line to Toyota Shi station. The Toyota Technology Museum is just one stop away from Nagoya station at Sakou station. And for the Automobile Museum you take the Higashiyama subway line to Fujigaoka station and transfer to the Linimo line to Gendaidori station. Tickets are free, 500, and 1000 Yen respectively.
A little more of science and technology for you? Then the Nagoya City Science Museum is your next stop. This museum has the largest planetarium in the world, it has sections on space and futuristic technology, as well as life sciences and general sciences. A must see for science lovers. To get there take the Higashiyama line or the Tsurumai subway line to Fushimi station. Tickets are 400 Yen or 800 Yen if you want to see the planetarium as well.
For a little more traditional sights then Nagoya has plenty, lets start with the Tokugawa Art Museum, the museum hosts numerous artifacts that once belonged to the fabulously rich Samurai lord of Nagoya including Samurai swords and armor, calligraphy scrolls, theater masks, statues etc. Next to the museum is also a beautiful garden in the traditional Japanese style. To get to this museum and the garden you take the JR Chuo line to the Ozone station. Tickets are 1200 for the museum and 150 for the garden.
As most other major cities Nagoya also has a castle, Nagota Castle is in most sense very similar to Osaka castle or Hiroshima castle, it was destroyed in the aerial bombing of 1945, only to be rebuilt. The castle and the castle ground are especially attractive during the cherry blossom season. To get there take the Higashiyama subway line to Sakae station. Fees are 500 yen for entry into the castle.
For shrines, go and see the Atsuta shrine said to be established in the 1st century AD. It is one of the most important Shinto shrines and is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. You take the Meitetsu Nagoya line to Jingumae station to get there.
Temples? Head to Osu kannon a popular Buddhist shrine in the middle of Nagoya, it was originally built in the 14th century as a place of worship for the the Buddhist deity Kannon. The temple was mostly lost in fire in the 1820 but rebuilt in the 1970s. Today it also hosts a large collection of classic Japanese and Chinese books, some 15.000 in total. To get to the shrine you take the Tsurumai Subway line to Osu Kannon station. Entrance is free.
In the neighborhood of Nagoya there are also a few sites more than worth a visit. One is Ise Island a sacred location for Shinto where past Emperors used to go to consult with their ancestors on important matters of state and religious affairs. Also to be recommended is the charming small village of Shirakawa-Go with its unique traditional architectural style and Takayama, another beautiful old town well preserved over the centuries.
In short Nagoya offers a host of attractions, most popular are perhaps those related to technology and industry but there are also traditional sights to be seen. If you like to see the neighboring areas make sure that you have at least a day to spend on each of them.