Nagoya is Japan's fourth most populous city and the capital of the Aichi Prefecture. While not as flashy as Tokyo or nearby Osaka and Kyoto, the city is abundant with its own unique charm and a more laid-back vibe reminiscent of the countryside. With a mix of both historically significant sights and modern offerings, Nagoya has no shortage of things to do. Trace the city's heritage back to the Edo Period, explore its history of Japanese handicrafts, or discover contemporary Japan in the many museums scattered throughout Nagoya.
Areas & Neighborhoods in Nagoya
Sakae - Sakae, a bustling commercial district, is considered the downtown heart of Nagoya. The area is home to the Hisaya Odori Park, a modern green space created after World War II that features many waterfalls, fountains, and artworks. Visit the Nagoya TV Tower, the first tower of its kind built in Japan in 1954, or the Aichi Fine Arts Center and Museum, adjacent to the modern complex of Oasis 21. Sakae is also known for its shopping, boasting department stores and the Sakae-Mori Underground Shopping Center.
Nagoya Port - One of the largest and busiest ports in Japan, Nagoya Port attracts both tourists and industry. The newly redeveloped Garden Pier portion of the port features the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium and the Fuji, a retired Antarctic survey ship that now houses the Antarctic Museum. The pier also features green spaces like the Garden Pier Green Park and the Bluebonnet wildflower garden.
Korankei - Just outside of Nagoya is Korankei, a lush valley blanketed in maple trees that show off the vibrant hues of Japan's seasons. Reputed to be one of the region's best spots for viewing autumn colors, the gorge attracts visitors with walking paths along the Tomoe River that boast incredible vistas up the slopes of Mount Iimori. Korankei is also home to the 17th-century Kojakuji Temple and the vermillion Taigetsukyo Bridge, a brilliant landmark of the area.
What to See in Nagoya
Nagoya's most famous historic attraction is the Nagoya Castle, built at the beginning of the Edo Period. Most of the original fortress was destroyed during air raids in 1945, and parts of the castle are still undergoing reconstruction with traditional materials and techniques. The park surrounding the castle is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in the spring. Nagoya is also home to the Atsuta Shrine, one of Japan's most important Shinto shrines. The shrine is said to hold the legendary sword Kusanagi, an Imperial Regalia of Japan, and its Bunkaden treasure hall houses over 4,000 relics and National Treasures. Be sure to visit the Tokugawa Art Museum to see the preserved feudal residence and samurai antiques of the Owari, one of the 3 major branches of the Tokugawa family during the Edo Period.
Sightseeing in Nagoya
Although Nagoya owes much of its domestic fame to its status as an manufacturing and trading hub, the city still boasts its fair share of historic and cultural must-sees. The SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, a railway museum, seamlessly blends Nagoya's best assets, highlighting the evolution of Japan's rail ways from steam locomotives to the latest high-speed, magnetic levitating trains. Car manufacturer Toyota is headquartered near Nagoya, and the Toyota Kaikan Museum and Toyota Techno Museum offer a look at the history of the global company. Nagoya's family-friendly offerings include the newly opened Legoland Japan, which features recreations of Japanese landmarks made from Lego bricks, and Nagashima Resort, which is composed of 5 leisure facilities. Relax in the hot springs of Nagashima Spa Yuami no Shima, or get your fill of thrills on the rides at the amusement park Nagashima Spaland. Also within the resort is the Anpanman Museum, based on the iconic anime character of the same name.
Dive into Nagoya's heritage with a visit to Noritake Garden, a museum that introduces Noritake, one of Japan's leading ceramics companies with a history of over 100 years. For centuries, Nagoya was a center for Japanese handicrafts, including the Arimatsu and Narumi dying techniques, which were innovated in the 17th century. Indulge in Japanese culture by trying your hand at calligraphy or the more modern art of making fake foods. For a day out of the city, escape to mountain village of Shirakawago in the Gifu Prefecture. The village is lauded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its centuries-old farmhouses built in the gassho-zukuri style, most notable for its hand-laid thatched roofs. Nagoya is also known for its regional cuisine such as tebasaki marinated chicken wings and miso-katsu—pork cutlets served with regional red miso sauce.