Outshone by the bright lights of Tokyo to the east and Kyoto and Osaka to the west, Nagoya is a city which has much to be proud of. Home of Toyota, not to mention that Japanese city staple, the Pachinko Parlour, this is a town that visitors will quickly fall in love with.
On the main shinkansen line between Tokyo and Kansai, Nagoya is easy to reach from the rest of Japan and easy to navigate too. Its six–line subway system has English language signs, while its Me–guru bus follows a loop around the city centre’s key sights. Taxis are also readily available.
Nagoya–jo, the city’s castle, is the most recognisable sight in the city. Like many castles, the original did not survive WWII and the current building is a painstaking reconstruction completed in the 1950s. While the traditional design is impressive, Japanese history buffs will love the armour and artefacts on show inside.
Around the castle, the beautiful Ninomaru castle looks at its best during the cherry blossom season in the spring and when the leaves are turning red during October. Its array of old–style teahouses offers the perfect chance for a mid–sightseeing breather.
For a look at what really makes modern Japan tick, head to the superb JR SCMAGLEAV and Railway Park. Train nerds will be in heaven at this impressive hangar, where futuristic trains and original carriages offer a fascinating insight into the development of one of Japan’s most recognisable sights, the bullet train.
Nagoya is hugely proud of its association with Toyota. Car buffs should book onto the two-hour guided tour at the Toyota Exhibition Hall, where you can see the latest rides roll off the production line. Prototypes and future plans are also on show. Just remember to book in advance.
Hit Nagoya in July and you can catch one of the only sumo tournaments held outside of Tokyo, at the city’s vast sumo stadium. The annual event draws huge crowds, with seats selling out months in advance.
If you’re not in town during the summer, then there’s still the chance to check out the very pleasant Noritake Garden, where some of Japan’s finest pottery and porcelain used to be made. There’s a lovely gallery and craft centre, with the chance to fire your own creations, as well as shop for trinkets and souvenirs in the discount shop.
Nagoya’s coastal location means it’s blessed with some excellent seafood restaurants. Aikyou, close to the main fish market, serves pricy but superb dishes, including a hotpot of beef, crab and shrimp, known as Aigo Nabe.
Sekai no Yamachan is a well known izakaya (Japanese pub) chain which started in Nagoya. Hit one of its branches for a few beers and some of its highly rated chicken wings. The best way to kick back after a day taking in the sights. For a true Nagoya experience, head to Yabaton, which specialises in misokatsu, breaded pork with miso and shredded cabbage.