Whether you have already planned your trip, or just want to take advantage of your JR Pass, then Nagoya will make an excellent spot for a one or two day trip. Located on the high-speed Shinkansen (bullet train) line, Nagoya is guaranteed to offer something of interest during your travels across Japan. Here are our top ten highlights:
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Korankei is located in Asuke-cho, Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture. Asuke-cho is an appealing town of traditional and historical heritage and Mother Nature as “a district of history, tradition and creation”. Korankei is a valley in that area where you can enjoy that nature. In 1634, maple and cedar trees were planted along the path heading towards Kojaku-ji Temple in the same valley and with features such as a walking path being built, the current Korankei came into being. The vermilion Taigetsukyo Bridge is a symbol of Korankei and the area is popular with tourists for its splendid nature throughout the four seasons. The different expressions of the seasons can be displayed: the countryside flora of spring, the lush green of summer, the fall foliage and the scene of winter. Korankei is attractive for its wide display of Mother Nature, but the most popular time is the autumn. The scene of approximately 4000 maple trees turning gold and red beautifully covering the entire valley is incredible. The autumn colors can be seen from early November and the area is lit up at night between sunset and 9 p.m. At the same time, the Korankei Maple Festival is held and the leaves are at their best until early December. Also from late March, the dogtooth violet are in full bloom. On good days, how about taking a stroll while seeing these sprite-like early spring violet blossoms?
In the area surrounding Korankei, there are still plenty of sightseeing spots for nature and historical architecture. The beginnings of the streets of Asuke-cho were started during the Sengoku Era, and in the Edo Era, the town took on its current shape. Asuke-cho’s townhouses were applied with plaster to prevent destruction by fire. It’s interesting to sightsee around the streets with that feeling of the Edo Era and the historic buildings such as Asuke Castle. Also, it’s wonderful to get that full feeling of nature through sites such as Kojaku-ji Temple which is famous for its maples and Mt. Kannon which has been called the second Korankei.
Admission: ¥ 500
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Korankei
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Korankei
- Tours of Korankei
Osu Kannon Temple
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Osu Kannon is a well-liked temple that was moved by Ieyasu Tokugawa. The main hall had been burned down in the war, but was rebuilt in 1960. The temple is also famous for events in the local shopping district. For starters, on the 18th and 28th of every month, flea markets are held on the lucky days (ennichi) for visiting the temple. Pictures and kimono, old books and coins, tin toys and old anime are lined up to evoke that feeling of the good ol’ days. Amazake, which is said to prolong life, is given out free on a first-come first-serve basis on the 18th. Every August, the Nippon Domannaka (Dead Center) Festival is held throughout Nagoya which is in the dead center of Japan, and that also includes Osu Kannon Temple. 200 teams and 23000 people from Japan and overseas express regional cultures through dance. You can’t keep your eyes off the spectacular costumes and the dynamic dancing. With the concept of everyone participating, the Sou Odori (all dance) which invites spectators to join in is impressive. It was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 as “The No. 1 Festival Dance”.
The Osu Street Performers Festival is the first street performing event in Japan which is held annually in October in the Osu Shopping District. Naturally, a street performers’ show where people can get close to the performers is an attractive point and the main event is the oiran procession. The occupation of the oiran (courtesan) was to entertain guests during the Edo Era. Women selected through open auditions transform into spectacular oiran and walk down through the streets of Osu. The World Cosplay Summit is held in conjunction with the Osu Summer Festival. The Osu Shopping District has so many shops related to anime and games that it has been called the Akihabara of Nagoya. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism recognizes the summit as a part of its “Visit Japan Campaign”, and it and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provide assistance. Held every summer, it garners world interest. Cosplayers who win in preliminary rounds in their own nations come to the summit, and a championship to decide on the best along with a parade are held.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Osu Kannon Temple
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Osu Kannon Temple
- Tours of Osu Kannon Temple
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A castle whose memories of historical figures can be realistically thought about up to now is uncommon. The differences in the reconstruction of some buildings is evident. By no means is it a big castle, but we would like you to come and visit a place that has plenty of memories of the lifestyle of warring commanders. Visiting this castle, you can feel the plans and zeal of the warriors who continued to protect it and also get to know the making of this Sengoku Era castle. A Sengoku Era castle was designed so that it was difficult for enemies to breach. The path that went past the front gate twists so a straight path to the castle wasn’t possible. It was also built on a hill to make attack difficult, but climbing the stone-paved slope for a while can get you access into the castle.
Enter the castle after taking off your shoes. The actual entrance is in the basement, and part of the stone wall is uncovered. The ladder-like stairs are very steep. Along with watching your step, it is also necessary to be careful not to bump your head on the low beams running among the pillars. This was also in consideration of preventing a full attack during an enemy invasion. In addition, there are also ishi-otoshi windows from which to drop stones, tsuke-yagura attached towers to attack from the flank, hidden rooms for soldiers and other Sengoku Era tactics against enemy forces. Currently, there are suits of armor, folding screens and other exhibits on display which are very popular.
The highest floor has a 360-degree view. Called the mawari-en, the corridor that encircles the floor is outside the castle which is unusual. Because the wood would rot if snow piled up, construction on cold ground was impossible. At the very least, the wonderful view can make one feel fully like the master of the castle. The surrounding edge goes no higher than one’s knees so it’s not even as tall as a shelf which means there is a thrilling aspect.
There is one good point behind the reason for Inuyama Castle avoiding destruction. Whenever it was known that a strong enemy was on the way, there was a quick surrender and no resistance. At any rate, the existence of a castle built over 400 years ago is a valuable experience.
Admission: Adult:¥ 550 / Child: ¥ 110
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Inuyama Castle
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Inuyama Castle
- Tours of Inuyama Castle
Noritake is a company famous as a manufacturer of ceramics, and the garden was built on the factory’s premises. From a tour of the factory to the restaurant, it is a multipurpose complex where you can even enjoy trying ceramics painting. It was once a factory for the production of tableware but over the course of time, the manufacturing came to an end. On those premises, a park and a restaurant were built. The distinctive park makes use of the existing structures such as the red brick factory and part of the large chimney that once stood 45 meters tall. Along with the restaurant and shops, there are many examples of life such as insects and flora to create its own fully natural biotope. Entry is free so it is a popular tourist site as a multipurpose facility to which you can bring the family.
First off, you can interact with the abundance of nature at Noritake Garden. An idea born in Germany, Noritake Garden was brought in here as a biotope, creating an environment of living things that can exist within the city. You can see insects, fish and wild birds here. Also, it’s a park with cherry and maple trees, and in the summer, the grass splendidly shines. Noritake is a manufacturer of fine ceramics. At the craft shop in Noritake Garden, you can take a look at everything from the manufacturing of bone china to ceramics painting (only this area requires a fee). There is also a museum where you can view exhibits such as elegant decorative plates created in the Meiji Era by Noritake. Furthermore, you can do your own ceramics painting of an original plate or mug. For a separate charge, an oven-fired creation can be delivered overseas to your home, so please give it a try as a memento of your trip. At the shops, you can also purchase tableware. And at the adjacent restaurant, Noritake ware is used.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Noritake Garden
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Noritake Garden
- Tours of Noritake Garden
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At the center of Nagoya Castle is its tenshukaku or castle tower which was rebuilt in 1959. The surrounding remains of the castle were made into Meijou Park. At present, the Honmaru palace is continuing restoration. A third of the construction costs, about 5 billion yen, comes from donations from Nagoya citizens. Local residents’ passion is linked into the restoration of Nagoya Castle. Along with the tenshukaku, Honmaru is the most important part of Nagoya Castle. For that part, the front hall and the omotesho-in parlor (a parlor constructed at the front of a building) are open to the public. The front hall is called the Tiger Room, and is the official entrance for visitors who can also use it as a waiting area. On the walls and sliding doors, there are tigers and leopards illustrated to express courage. The omotesho-in was used for the feudal lord and his servants to meet. There are paintings of flowers and birds in the rooms, and there is a profound air. They were the meeting places for the lord and his family as well as venues for dinners. It’s also said that the very first lord had had his wedding ceremony held there. Illustrations of the year-round events are famous.
The castle was enlarged after the unification of the nation for lords on the way to the capital. Gorgeous sculptures and metal fittings were added to the Shogun’s chambers, and even within Honmaru Palace, it was the most elegant area. Elsewhere, there are bathrooms and the Kuroki Sho-in which was reputed to be the lodgings for Ieyasu Tokugawa currently scheduled for restoration. Efforts are being made with the citizenry for the care and maintenance of the excellent scenery of Ninomaru Garden, called a place of scenic beauty, a new place for exchange in the area surrounding Nagoya Castle and the reconstruction of the shachihoko golden dolphins. After completion, it will become a huge location for history and culture in the Chubu area.
Admission: ¥ 500
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Nagoya Castle
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nagoya Castle
- Tours of Nagoya Castle
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Atsuta Shrine, located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, was established in the year 113, and reaching its 1900th anniversary in 2013, a commemorative festival was held. At the shrine that has been affectionately called Atsuta-san by Nagoyans, more than 6.5 million visitors come every year. Not only local citizens but members of the Imperial Household and shoguns have also worshiped at the shrine, and it is also known as the most prestigious shrine next to Ise Shrine. The reason for this is that it is famous for enshrining the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, the sword that is one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan (mirror, jewel, sword) which were given by the gods in Japanese mythology. Including a National Treasure and Important Cultural Properties, it is one of the over 6000 artifacts that are housed within the shrine. Atsuta Shrine has a Bunkaden treasure hall in which permanent and special exhibitions are held on the 1st floor. Selected treasures are displayed monthly. On the 2nd floor of the Bunkaden is the Atsuta Library where Shinto writings are exhibited. The atmosphere at this foliage-rich shrine itself is also recommended. Within the 200,000 m² grounds of the shrine, there are camphor trees planted which are more than a millennium old. Just strolling through this tranquil atmosphere is cleansing for the heart. Atsuta Shrine is a popular tourist destination as a refuge of nature.
The Atsuta Festival held on June 5th is the largest celebration held at the shrine among the many festivals there. Beginning with the dedication of makiwara lanterns, it is a grand festival that marks the arrival of summer in Nagoya with 1000 fireworks. You can freely enjoy a Japanese summer festival through the taiko drums and mikoshi and the stalls lined up on the path heading toward the shrine. There are various festivals so please check the homepage for the festival that you would like to visit.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Atsuta Shrine
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Atsuta Shrine
- Tours of Atsuta Shrine
Nagoya City Science Museum
At the science museum located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, there is the globe-shaped planetarium, Brother Earth, which opened in 2010 and whose dome measures 35 meters in diameter. This planetarium which looks outstanding from the outside was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest planetarium in 2011. To show a truly endless starry sky, it uses the latest technology such as the Universarium Model IX planetarium (optical planetarium) and the Skymax DSII (digital planetarium). However, what is attractive to many fans of the planetarium is talk on the starry sky, constellations and outer space through the careful commentary by the traditional-style curators. An environment where you can relax as if you were truly amid nature has been created with natural sound effects as you leisurely view the starry sky from your seats.
There are four types of major exhibits at the museum: the planetarium, the Science & Technology building where many exhibits regarding energy and scientific technology are on display, the Life Sciences building where you can learn about the human body and life, and the interactive displays. First off, there is the Water Plaza. Here, there are plenty of ways from which you can learn regarding the quality of water on the Earth such as models. Then, there is the Tornado Lab where you can witness an air vortex that soars as high as 9 meters. Furthermore, there is the Electric Discharge Lab where you can see actual fireworks of electricity through violent discharges. Finally, there is the Deep Freezing Lab where you can experience freezing temperatures of -30 degrees and view an aurora. All of them are on a visitor capacity system, so either check the homepage or make inquiries as soon as you enter the museum regarding the distribution of numbered tickets. In addition, at the Life Sciences Building and the Planetarium, experimental classes are held on a monthly basis. They are learning classes where you can actually experiment with the peculiarities of the human body and about space. Again, please check the schedule on the homepage. From 2014, an English audio guide was also started. If you download an app onto your smartphone, you can get an explanation in English for a part of the exhibits within the museum.
Admission: ¥ 400
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Nagoya City Science Museum
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nagoya City Science Museum
- Tours of Nagoya City Science Museum
Toyota Related Sights
The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology has preserved the Toyota factory that was launched in the Taisho Era as a place to be used as a museum for its valuable industrial heritage. There are 4 pavilions: the Textile Machinery Pavilion, the Automobile Pavilion, Technoland, and the Toyota Group Building. The red-brick buildings themselves are preserved as valuable structures. There is a circular loom displayed in the museum lobby which was constructed by Sakichi Toyoda, the father of Kiichiro Toyoda who had established Toyota before it became an automobile manufacturer. The loom was built to display the technical prowess of the Japanese at a time when the nation still depended on Western technology, and it has become a symbol of the museum. As well, the museum has been recognized as a Heritage of Industrial Modernization for its contribution to Japan’s modernization.
The Toyota Automobile Museum is a place where you can learn about the history of the car from the development of gas-powered automobiles of the late 19th century to 20th-century cars through the actual autos themselves. On the 2nd floor, there are Western cars on display while on the 3rd floor, there are Japanese cars for a total of 120 examples that you can view closely. Also in the Annex, there is information and displays of cars regarding the history of Japanese people in tandem with the automobile. There is also a space for children, restaurants, and a souvenir shop where you can purchase things such as minicars. It is a museum where you can spend an entire day with the whole family.
The headquarters for Toyota’s factories is located in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. The Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall which is also in Toyota City has exhibitions of the latest safety-conscious technology, starting from the new technology for vehicles such as hybrid cars and fuel-cell cars. At the Virtual Factory, you can learn about things such as the factory manufacturing process through videos. To reach Toyota Kaikan requires a 1-hour train trip from Nagoya Station. For Toyota fans, this is a tourist spot that cannot be missed.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Toyota Related Sights
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Toyota Related Sights
- Tours of Toyota Related Sights
The Port of Nagoya
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The Port of Nagoya is the largest international trading port in the country where many cargo ships can be seen daily. It’s recommended to take a leisurely walk there while feeling the sea breeze. Also at the port, up to 40 luxury liners and domestic/overseas cruise ships arrive during the year, so it’s a treat to be able to see them up close. The Garden Pier is located close by at the Port of Nagoya’s Old No. 2 Chisan Pier where you can enjoy facilities such as a museum and an aquarium.
The 63-meter-high Port Building is a white building which stands out as a symbol of the Garden Pier. On the 7th floor of the building which is right by the sea, there is an observation deck where you can get a 360-degree view of the port. Also on the 3rd floor, there is the Nagoya Marine Museum where you can tour the history of The Port of Nagoya and the exhibits of ships. Leaving the Port Building, you will soon come across a large orange ship. This is the Antarctic exploration vessel Fuji which was in operation for 18 years starting from 1965. After completing its tour of duty in 1985, it was permanently moored at the port and now serves as a ship museum. On the opposite side of the Port Building, there is The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium. At one of the world’s largest main pools, you can enjoy a dolphin show. Divided into North and South Wings, the North Wing has the theme of the birth and evolution of life while in the South Wing, there are exhibits under the theme of marine life in the oceans from the port to the South Pole. Also, the North Wing features killer whales, dolphins and earless seals, and in the South Wing, you can observe the varieties of marine life such as sea turtles and penguins along with the fish inhabiting the Sea of Japan. If you come to The Port of Nagoya, please visit the museum and aquarium to learn and appreciate about the port and the ocean.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about The Port of Nagoya
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about The Port of Nagoya
- Tours of The Port of Nagoya
Tokugawa Art Museum
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The Tokugawa Art Museum is famous for its displays of armor and articles bequeathed from the daimyo (feudal lords) of the Tokugawa family, especially those from the first shogun of the Edo Era, Ieyasu Tokugawa. His hereditary collection, the swords and armor of those daimyo during the Sengoku (Warring States) Era, accessories, tea ceremony instruments, paintings and items used during wedding ceremonies among other exhibits are displayed. There is a tremendous number of over 10,000 artifacts which include 9 National Treasures and 59 Important Cultural Properties. There are many swords used in battle on display, and there are plenty of things to see to satisfy fans of the Sengoku Era. You will be drawn to the numerous priceless treasures that have been passed down over the generations of the Tokugawa family. You will also want to take note of the opulent lifestyle of the Tokugawa family back in the day through their items such as beautiful kimono and furnishings. There are 6 exhibition rooms in total. Exhibition Room 1 displays the swords and armor, symbols of a samurai. Room 2 specializes in the tea ceremony, Room 3 is the arrangement of Japanese tea utensils, Room 4 has a Noh stage, and Room 5 has daily utensils used by the wives of daimyo. In Room 6, beautiful calligraphy and paintings can be observed up close, and it is also famous for the scroll of The Tale of Genji which has been preserved as a National Treasure.
The Tokugawa Art Museum has volunteer staff providing commentary on the exhibits and interactive learning for travelers who want to learn deeply about history. There is also the Tokugawa Tea Party where you can observe tea ceremony utensils closely. Since schedules and times will differ for events, it is necessary to check the museum homepage, but if you have the chance, please participate by all means. In addition, along with the permanent exhibitions, there are also the special temporary exhibitions which cannot be missed. Items such as the National Treasure of the scroll of The Tale of Genji are displayed via their reproductions, but you must check out the actual items when they are displayed from time to time.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,200 / Child: ¥ 500