With so many things to do in Nagoya, is surprising that not that many tourists visit Japan's 4th most populous city. During our 2 week Japan itinerary, we decided to add Nagoya to the list and find out what this city has to offer. As a comparison, I think it's fair to say that Nagoya is a smaller Tokyo, with great infrastructure, fantastic districts and plenty of things to do. Being much cheaper than the capital, Nagoya is an excellent choice for budget travellers interested in a less crowded Japanese city. So what are the things to do in Nagoya?
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Tokyo to Nagoya
The easiest way to get from Tokyo to Nagoya is by Shinkansen. If you have a Japan Rail Pass (which you should) then this journey is free for you.
Remember that train tickets are expensive in Japan and if you decide to not invest in a JR Pass, you might want to consider other options such as highway buses or local trains. You can read all about getting from Tokyo to Nagoya.
Things to do in Nagoya
There are so many interesting things to do in Nagoya and this is an excellent city for those interested in immersing in the cultural side of Japan. Nagoya was a major political seat of the Owari lords, who has a fascination for the arts. As such, you should expect to visit many museums during your visit to Nagoya. One of the most notable treasures in Nagoya are some old scrolls of The Tale of Genji, located in the Tokugawa Art Museum.
Tha Nagoya castle is located in central Nagoya and it is perhaps the most visited point of attraction in the city. The Nagoya castle was originally completed in 1612 and restored several times since due to Earthquakes and World War II damage.
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0031, Japan
Hours: Mon-Sun 9 AM - 4:30 PM
Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens
If you are after an array of activities then the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the place for you. The Zoo homes over 120 species of animals and the Botanical Gardens are known to wow, especially with their beautiful greenhouse. Don't forget to check out the amusement park as well. This makes the perfect day out for the family.
Address: Japan, 〒464-0804 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Chikusa Ward, Higashiyama Motomachi, 3 Chome−７０
Hours: Mon-Sun 9 AM - 4:50 PM
Every cool Japanese city has its own tower and Nagoya is no exception. Not as high as the Tokyo Tower though, this 180 m steel tower offers features two observation decks where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city. What makes it unique? It is home to a really cool beer garden. It's a great place in the evening for night photography.
Address: Japan, 〒460-0003 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Naka Ward, Nishiki, 3 Chome−6−15
Hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM - 10 PM
Hey shopping lovers, this one is for you. As in every Japanese city, shopping is one of the best things to do in Nagoya. In Ōsu you will find all sort of popular Japanese food and handicrafts. There are various shops selling fashionable items which makes this area quite popular with the young adults.
Ōsu Kanon is a Buddhist temple located in Central Nagoya. The temple was originally built in 1333. What is special about Ōsu Kanon is that it houses an impressive collection of books (over 15,000 classic works).
Address: 2 Chome-21-47 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 460-0011, Japan
Ever wanted to see a Killer Whale? This is your chance because Nagoya Aquarium houses them. The Nagoya Aquarium opened in 1992 and it is home to over 500 species of animals. There are Orca and Dolphin shows.
Address: 1-3 Minatomachi, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 455-0033, Japan
Hours: Mon-Sun 9 AM - 5 PM
The Atsuta Shrine is the oldest landmark in Nagoya. This shrine was founded around 1900 years ago. Most of the buildings were destroyed during the World War II but the shrine's reconstruction began in 1955. Today, The Atsuta shrine ranks second after the Great Ise Shrine.
If you want to see a whale shark, don't forget to visit the Osaka Aquarium.
Address:1 Chome-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 456-8585, Japan
Nagoya Railway Park
Nagoya has a train museum which opened in 2011. The really cool things about the Nagoya Railway Park is that you can enjoy full-size vehicles on display. It features 39 full-size railway vehicles! In other words, this is train heaven!
Address: 3 Chome-2-2 Kinjofuto, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 455-0848, Japan
Hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM - 5:30 PM
Tokugawa Art Museum
This is one of my favourite museums, because of its incredible valuable treasures: the Genji Monogatari Emaki, three Heian periods illustrated handscrolls of The Tale of Genji. Remember that these scrolls are very fragile and since 2001, they have only been displayed for one week in November.
Address: Japan, 〒461-0023 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Higashi Ward, Tokugawacho, １０１７
Hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM - 5 PM
Nagoya Science Museum
Nagoya Science Museum is home to the second largest planetarium in the world. The museum has various exhibitions, including items which depict modern technologies, life sciences and general science. This is mainly tailored for children as it has some interactive exhibitions, but overall it's one of the fun things to do in Nagoya.
Address: Japan, 〒460-0008 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Naka Ward, Sakae, 2 Chome−１７−１
Hours: Mon-Sun 9:30 AM - 5 PM
You can visit the Noritake Garden Gallery, the Craft Centre and Noritake Museum or simply stroll through the beautiful gardens. Noritake Garden is a lovely and relaxing landscape with trees and flowers what showcases the importance of seasons in Japan. The admission is Free to the gardens, however, other fees to the gallery and museum may apply.
Address: 3 Chome-1-36 Noritakeshinmachi, Nishi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 451-0051, Japan
Hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM - 6 PM
Higashiyama Sky Tower
Featuring a restaurant and an observation deck at 100m above ground, the Higashiyama Sky Tower is sure to offer panoramic views of the Zoo and Botanical Garden. If you love Tokyo from above, then you are going to Nagoya from above as well.
Address: Kameiri-1-8 Tashirocho, Chikusa Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 464-0803, Japan
Hours: Mon-Sun 10 AM - 5 PM
Apart from the Aquarium, you can also promenade and eat various Japanese dishes in the Nagoya Port. There is a cool amusement park in the area and some nice photo opportunities. It does look a bit industrial, but I think that adds to the charm of it all.
Address: 1-3 Minatomachi, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Want more options for enjoying Nagoya from above? The Sky Promenade is another observation deck which offers mist shows at night. Best to visit after sunset to enjoy incredible views of the city.
Address: 4 Chome-7-1 Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 450-0002, Japan
Want to escape the city? Then head to Shirotori garden, a fantastic place for a long and relaxing walk. Shirotori is a Japanese style garden with streams and pons. Don't forget to check out the tea ceremony house.
Address: Japan, 〒456-0036 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Atsuta Ward, Atsuta Nishimachi, ２−５
Hours: Mon-Sun 9 AM - 5 PM
If you love cars, then head over to the Toyota Automobile Museum which traces back the history of the brand. The museum exhibits rare and classic cars.
Address: Japan, 〒480-1118 Aichi Prefecture, Nagakute, Yokomichi, 41−100
Hours: Tu-Sun 9:30 AM - 5 PM
Opened recently, in 2017, Legoland is a theme park in Nagoya. It is the first ever Legoland opened in Japan. You can easily spend a whole day here and if you are travelling with kids, then this is an absolute must.
Address: Japan, 〒455-8605 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Minato Ward, Kinjofuto, 2 Chome−2−1
Tennogawa Park is a beautiful four-season attraction for those interested in a relaxing time in Nagoya. The park looks glorious year round, especially in the Spring with its beautiful cherry blossoms. Don't forget the wisteria flower festival which is held from the end of April until early May. You may be interested to learn when is the best time to visit Japan.
Address: 1 Chome Rurikojicho, Tsushima, Aichi Prefecture 496-0856, Japan
JR Central Towers
You can't miss the Nagoya JR Central Towers as you will see them when you arrive at the city. These two towers are a complex of offices, hotels and various shops. At the lower floors, you can shop in Takashimaya department store. At the top, you can dine in one of the fine JR Central Towers restaurants.
Address: Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-city, Aichi
Things to do in Nagoya: Nagoya cuisine
Due to its own culture and history, as well as ingredients availability, Nagoya developed its own signature cuisine. Amongst the most notable unique features, Nagoya is the best place to sample red miso, usually used in the famed Red Miso Katsu.
Nagoya also features Kishimen, a type of flat udon with a more slippery texture. It's usually dipped in soy sauce and ate cold or hot. Nagoya Kochin is a type of special breed of free range chicken. You can eat Kochin Sashimi usually made from liver, heart and gizzard. Tenmusu is great pick-me-up dish as it is essentially an energy bomb: a rice ball wrapped in seaweed with tempura in the centre.
What are the things you are going to do in Nagoya? Please leave a comment below and tell me all about your endless adventures.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Nagoya best known for?
Nagoya is best known for its rich industrial heritage, Nagoya Castle, unique local cuisine (red miso), cultural attractions, and spirited festivals. The city's prominent reputation lies in being a major centre of manufacturing and automotive industries, with renowned companies like Toyota based there. Nagoya Castle stands as an iconic symbol, famous for its impressive architecture and historical significance. The city also boasts a distinctive culinary scene, with specialities like Nagoya-style tebasaki chicken wings and hitsumabushi grilled eel. Cultural attractions liek the Osu Kannon Temple and Atsuta Shrine draw visitors from all over the world. Additionally, Nagoya hosts lively festivals like the Nagoya Festival and the thrilling Nagoya Sumo Tournament.
Is it worth visiting Nagoya?
Absolutely! Nagoya is definitely worth a visit. There are so many cool attractions in Nagoya, including the Nagoya Castle and the bustling streets of Osu Kannon Temple. You'll eat great food, including red miso based dishes and grilled eel. Besides, Nagoya is greatly positioned as a getaway to the famous Kiso Valley, known mainly for its Magome-Tsumago Trail (Old Nakasendo).
How many days do you need in Nagoya?
I would recommend 2 days in Nagoya if you wish to see just the city highlights, or 3 days if you also want to take a day trip to the Magome-Tsumago Trail. Within this timeframe, you can visit iconic landmarks like Nagoya Castle, Osu Kannon Temple, and Atsuta Shrine, learn about the city's automotive heritage at the Toyota Automobile Museum, and, of course, eat the wonderful food Nagoya is well known for.
What is there to do between Tokyo and Nagoya?
There are several great stops to consider between Tokyo to Nagoya: One notable detour is Yokohama Chinatown, for great food and souvenirs. Another option is visiting Lake Ashi, a picturesque lake in Hakone, offering serene boat rides and stunning views of Mount Fuji. Speaking of which, Mount Fuji itself is a must-see too. Other popular stops along the way include Matsumoto Castle, Magome and Tsumago, Inuyama Castle and Nagashima Resort.