Nagoya (名古屋市) may not be one of the first cities you think of when visiting Japan. Nevertheless, this fourth largest city in the country, located in Aichi Prefecture, does have a lot to offer. Not only is the largest port in Japan located here, but also large companies like Toyota and Mitsubishi are located here.
In addition, this city has an excellent central location in Japan and you can visit a number of special places from here. In this travel guide you will read more about the history of Nagoya and about the best sights in this modern city.
What would you like to know about Nagoya, Japan?
- History Nagoya – A trip back in time
- Sightseeing – 7 historical attractions in Nagoya
- Accommodation – Where to stay in Nagoya?
- Transportation – How to get there?
History of Nagoya – A journey back in time
Already at the time of the Tokugawa dynasty (1603-1868) Nagoya was one of the most prosperous cities in Japan. The famous castle was built around 1612 to protect the city from invaders from Osaka.
But the history of Nagoya also has a dark period. Over the centuries, the city was ravaged several times by floods. A Dutchman, Johannis de Rijke (1842-1913) had to be involved in order to develop a good water drainage system (from 1887 to 1912) around the city. For his contribution to the city it was even decided to build a statue of Johannis de Rijke in Nagoya. This statue can still be visited today.
In 1889 Nagoya received the official title of city. At that time it had only 150,000 inhabitants. In 1891 it was badly hit by an earthquake and many houses were destroyed.
The 20th century is a period of explosive growth, interspersed with the well-known dark period between 1940 and 1950. Nagoya was also severely damaged by the many bombardments from the Second World War. But soon after, the city grew considerably and is nowadays known as the most important city of the car industry and the textile industry. About 9 million people live in and around Nagoya.
Sightseeing – 7 historical sites in Nagoya
Not many tourists visit Nagoya. It is very similar to the cities of Osaka and Tokyo. Nevertheless, Nagoya does have some nice sights. Below are a few fun attractions.
1. Castle of Nagoya
This castle was commissioned in 1612 by the then ruler of Japan, Ieyasu Tokugawa, to counter attacks from Osaka. Unfortunately, much of the castle was destroyed during the bombing raids during World War II. As a result, it has lost much of its historical value.
Also lost were the city coat of arms of Nagoya, the golden dolphin that stood on the roof of the castle. Despite this, a few watchtowers still stand from the time of the Samurai. For more information go to the Nagoya Castle website.
2. The television tower of Nagoya
The Nagoya TV Tower was built in 1954. At the time, it was among one of the largest towers in Japan. The Nagoya TV Tower is 180 meters high and looks like a scaled-down version of the Eiffel Tower. The tower is located in the Hisayi Odori Park.
Tip: For a different view of the city, visit the Central Towers. These two towers are located next to Nagoya Station and the 51st floor gives you a view of the city.
3. Toyota Automobile Museum
Toyota, along with Volkswagen, belongs to the largest car brand in the world. In and around Nagoya, this car brand has factories and headquarters. Nice to spend a few hours in the Toyota Automobile Museum. This is located in the town of Nagakute. Here you can admire many historic cars. This museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm.
4. Nagoya City Science Museum
This special museum is located in the heart of Nagoya. It can be recognized by the large round sphere above the entrance. The museum has one of the largest planetariums in the world. For scientific experiments, this museum is the place to be. The Nagoya City Science Museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission to the museum and planetarium costs 800 yen.
5. Osu Kannon Tempel
The Osu Kannon Temple is the most popular temple in the city. This shrine has been around since the 13th century, but was not moved to its current location until the 17th century. Unfortunately, the temple was destroyed several times by floods, so the current temple dates back to the 20th century. The main god worshipped is the Kannon, goddess of mercy.
Reading tip: Would you like to know more about the Goddess of Grace, Kannon? Then read the article: Visit Sensoji Temple Tokyo? 5 historical facts you need to know
6. Scmaglev and Railway Park
Japan is the land of fast trains, but you probably figured that out. The Scmaglev is the fastest train (magnet) in the world, and on April 21, 2015, the world speed record of 603 kilometers per hour was broken at a test site. Around 2027, this train should actually start running between Tokyo and Nagoya. Want to know more about this superfast train? Then go to the Scmaglev and Railway Park south of Nagoya.
7. The Nakasendo Trail: From Magome to Tsumago
The hike from Magome to Tsumago is located in the Kiso Valley in Nagano Province. Nevertheless, these places are faster to reach from Nagoya (1.5 hours) than from Nagano (2.5 hours). A wonderful hike to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and feel like you are living in traditional Japan again.
Would you like to read more about this hike? Then read the article Nakasendo Trail, Kiso Valley | The Historic Way of the Samurai.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Nagoya ?
Nagoya, along with Tokyo and Osaka, is one of the most important financial cities in the country. Therefore, you will find many different expensive hotels here, but fortunately also a quantity of cheaper hostels.
I stayed a total of 2 nights in Nagoya. Depending on what you want to do in this city, spending one full day in Nagoya is more than enough in my opinion. Close to the train station, I stayed at Hostel Wasabi Nagoya Ekimae. The interesting thing about this hostel is that you have your own capsule/sleeping bed with your own computer! You don’t see that everywhere either!
The best neighborhood of Nagoya is Sakae. This district is located 2 kilometers east of Nagoya Station and has many shopping centers and restaurants. Nearby is the TV tower and the city’s ultramodern bus station.
Transportation – How to get there?
Nagoya is easily reached by the shinkansen from Tokyo. In about 2 hours you are there and from Kyoto it takes about 30 minutes by high speed train.
Nagoya has an underground subway that ensures that you can easily reach everything. Since 2004 it is even possible to visit the city’s harbor by subway. In total there are 6 subway lines.
Do you have more tips, comments or ideas about Nagoya in Japan? Feel free to leave a comment below!