A major Japanese city, Nagoya is located on the Pacific Coast on the island of Honshu and has served as a major port and centre of trade for centuries. An important centre of manufacture in Japan and the birthplace of Toyota, it is located conveniently between Tokyo and Osaka, so a trip to Nagoya is easy to fit in on any tour of Japan.
A fascinating city, Nagoya is known for its historic sights, fast-paced cityscape and a good range of museums and temples. It’s inhabitants, known as ‘Nagoyans’, are famous for their friendliness, so when in doubt you can always ask a local for recommendations if you are unsure what to do in Nagoya. With brilliant shopping streets and a unique food scene, including specialist dishes unique to the city, Nagoya is a cheaper alternative to the capital. With over 2 million inhabitants, Nagoya is a sprawling metropolis, filled with everything you’d expect from a Japanese super-city! Although the city has a long history, beginning as a castle town in the Edo Period, much of the remnants of this time were destroyed in air raids during World War II, when the city was targeting due to its manufacturing power.
When it comes to what to see in Nagoya, there's a diverse range of sights and attractions to suit all tastes. The most visited attraction in the city is the towering Nagoya Castle, an imposing white, five-story structure built in a traditional style. It has been restored a number of times since it was first built in 1612, as it was unfortunately destroyed during the air raids of 1945. Nevertheless, it has still retained much of its authentic charm and offers visitors a glimpse into the past during a tour of otherwise ultra-modern Nagoya.
In the south of the city lies Nagoya’s most historic sight, the important Shinto shrine of Atsuta, the oldest landmark in the city. Remodelled in the Japanese Shinmei-zukuri architecture style during the Meji period, the shrine is believed to have been established during the reign of Emperor Keikō, almost 1000 years ago. If you’re a culture buff, you cannot miss a visit to Tokugawa Art Museum during a Nagoya tour. It houses an astonishing collection of relics, art and artefacts from across the centuries including more than 12,000 items, ranging from swords to furniture, ceramics, calligraphy, and paintings.
The centre of Nagoya is a hotbed of life and attractions. It's worth spending an entire afternoon going up to the viewing platform of the Nagoya TV Tower or visiting the Pokemon Centre. In addition, this area is full of restaurants, bars and shops.
Do you know what magnetic levitation trains are? Well, the "SCMaglev and Railway Park", which is the name of this railway museum, has them. It also has a large collection of old trains and examples of high-speed trains, or shinkansen. The explanations are in English and Japanese, so don't worry about the language barrier.
After touring the world on rails, how about a walk in space? The Nagoya Science Museum contains one of the largest planetariums in the world. As well as experimental rooms where tornadoes, freezing and electrical discharges are studied. If you want to learn more about any of these phenomena without risking your health this is your museum. And don't forget to check out their programme, as the temporary exhibitions are usually very interesting. For example, in 2014 it hosted an exhibition on Dragon Ball.
In addition to the art housed in this museum, it's worth travelling to Nagoya to visit the building itself, which is none other than the Owari family's residence from the Japanese feudal period.
Midland Square is the highest building in the city; it has an observation deck, the Sky Promenade, where you can have a coffee or tea and view Nagoya from the heavens.
Another place for viewing the city from a bird's eye perspective is the top floor of the JR Central Towers, where the Panorama Salon is located. To reach it you'll have to take two lifts. The first goes to the 12th floor and the second to the 51st. There's not only a café, but also a wine lounge and a beauty salon.
For lovers of interactive tourism, Noritake Garden offers the chance to learn more about Japanese pottery and the opportunity to make your own piece.
This is one of the most important Shinto shrines in the country. Unlike other temples, it not only looks after the soul: at its restaurant they'll also take care of your body. Sample a plate of kishimen noodles, the most typical dish of the city, and stroll through its gardens.
Besides being one of the busiest and most important ports in the country, Nagoya port has the Garden Pier, a leisure area with many restaurants, an aquarium and even an amusement park, rather in the tradition of Brighton pier, but with a markedly Japanese character.
A life-size reproduction of the house in Studio Ghibli's film My Neighbour Totoro is preserved in the Aichi Expo Park. A theme park dedicated to this animated film studio is expected to open in the area in 2022. This means that Nagoya will undoubtedly become one of Japan's greatest attractions.
If spring is famous in Japan for cherry blossoms, autumn is famous for momiji, maple leaves that are take on hues from the entire ochre range from red to yellow. The Korankei Valley is one of the most iconic places to enjoy this natural spectacle. If you have time, visit Sanshu Asuke Yashiki, a delightful rural village.
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