When traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen, you will pass the city of Nagoya. Though many tourists skip this city, we decided to schedule in a day at Tokyo’s and Kyoto’s less known brother: Nagoya, the hometown of Toyota.
With over two million inhabitants, Nagoya is Japan’s fourth most populated city. It’s about 1.5 hours from Kyoto and is known to be a major transport hub for the region.
Though the city is very big, the most interesting sights are in and around the Sakae area. So if you have a day to spend in this buzzing city, I suggest you to start in this area first. Unless you are car enthusiastic, then there is only one place to go first:
The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.
This educational museum offers tours in English and shows how Toyota manages to grow into the huge powerhouse it is now. Including the trip, a visit to the Toyota Museum will take at least half a day. But is is worthwhile the time invested!
If you prefer public transport over driving a car, the Scmaglev and Railway Park might be something for you. The Japanese are known for and proud of their Bullet trains: the museum shows the technologies used in the past and also offer a glimpse of the future of traveling by train. Hugely interesting for everybody with some passion for technology and speed.
More info: http://museum.jr-central.co.jp/en/
Downtown Nagoya offers everything that is to be expected from a big city: an astonishing amount of shops, restaurants, bars, clubs and interesting sights.
OSU SHOPPING AREA
If you are into shopping, the Osu shopping district is the place to go: a huge shopping district with over 1200 shops. These range from high end fashion brands to second hand clothing and everything in between, such as Cosplay, which is huge in Osu. So big that they actually are the organisers of the annual World Cosplay Summit. Even if you are not a fan or not familiar with the concept of Cosplay, you will enjoy yourself by just walking around in this area. Also, there are very nice food stands and eateries where you can enjoy some typical Japanese and Nagoya delicacies.
More info: http://inbound.nagoya-osu.com/en/
A few blocks from Osu, you will find the Nagoya TV tower and Oasis 21. The latter is a futuristic looking shopping mall with a brilliant roof, called Water Spaceship. The roof is open for public and when walking on it, it feels like walking in the air. A must see for everybody who has a soft spot for (brilliant) architecture.
Next to Oasis 21 is the Nagoya TV Tower: a 180 meters high tower with a cool beer garden on the ground floor during summer. At 100 meters height is a skydeck offering a panoramic view of Nagoya City. Beautifully lit at night.
WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT
In the Sakae area are numerous restaurants, so it might be hard to choose. Therefore it’s easier to decide what you want to eat in stead of where. Here are some local and delicious dishes:
Hitsumabushi, which is grilled Eel on Rice and a Nagoya specialty:
The eel is slit open along the belly and grilled whole without steaming – which is the Nagoya style of cooking eel. Really delicious. A good place to try this dish is Asuta Horaiken Honten, not the cheapest nor the most expensive, but either way..very good!
Kishimen is the local fast food: a dish made of soft wheat noodles. It’s cheap, fast and tasty. Best to be eaten in Ebisuya (which is a restaurant chain).
Takoyaki is typical streetfood: a ball of dough, filled with Octopus or shrimp and baked in a special pan. It’s served with Japanese Worcester sauce and mayonnaise.
Though Takoyaki is huge in Osaka, the best we had so far was at a small street stall in Nagoya.
Read more about the typical dishes from Nagoya: https://nagoya-info.com/nagoya-famous-food/.
WHERE TO STAY?
Thinking about spending a night in Nagoya? There are plenty options to choose from!
We stayed the night in Nagoya Travellers hostel. A friendly place, with only one private double bedroom (which we occupied) and several shared rooms with bunkbeds. Location is a dodgy area of the city (red light district), however, as always in Japan, it is safe. The hostel itself has a nice shared public area where you can enjoy free coffee and internet.
As a conclusion: if you have the time, schedule in a day of Nagoya. Though close to Kyoto, it is a totally different city, with it’s own unique and slightly more raw, though friendly, atmosphere. We liked it!
More practical info and sightseeing in Nagoya >