Nagoya is Japan's 4th populous city and often overlooked by travelers. In my opinion there really is no good reason for that. Nagoya has a lot to offer, not only interesting history and unique culture but also delicious local food, called Nagoya Meshi, only to be found in the region. Nagoya, like all major cities in Japan, has amazing infrastructure in the form of subways and buses. You can reach all parts of the city either by subway or bus and for a relatively cheap price. If you are planning on taking lots of subways and buses there are day passes available.
Nagoya has a subtropical climate. This means summers (July to September) can get very hot and humid with temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius, winters (December to February) are cool around 10 degrees. This makes spring and autumn the best time to visit Nagoya. When temperatures aren't too hot or too cold. If you want to see the famous cherry blossoms you can do that in Nagoya, and it won't be as crowded as places like Tokyo or Kyoto. They are in blossom around the end of March to the beginning of April. In the fall, around the end of November, the leaves change their color to bright reds and yellows. There is a famous valley not far from Nagoya, called Korankei, the perfect place to see the beautiful nature of Japan.
Nagoya was officially founded at the beginning of the 17th century with the construction of Nagoya castle by the then ruler Tokugawa Ieyasu. But Nagoya has a much longer history than that. The Atsuta Jingu, located in Nagoya and one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan, has a history of almost 2000 years. We know that because it was mentioned in the two oldest history books of Japan. Let's go back to the 17th century. After the construction of Nagoya Castle, the first people settled in the surrounding area. Infrastructure developed, followed by the arts such as Noh theater and tea ceremony.
Like I mentioned earlier, Nagoya Castle could be described as the birthplace of Nagoya. With the founding of the castle, Nagoya started to develop to become the city it is today. Nagoya Castle is located in a spacious park in the center of the city and it is a not-to-miss place on your Nagoya sightseeing. The highlight of Nagoya Castle and the one thing which makes it so much better than other castles in Japan is the newly reconstructed Honmaru Palace. It was reconstructed over many years using only the traditional building methods, and it's stunning.
Tokugawa Art Museum and Tokugawa Garden
What you cannot see at Nagoya Castle are the old armors, swords and other items the ruling Owari clan used to own while living at the castle. These items are all on display at the Tokugawa Art Museum. Visit it as you continue to explore Nagoya. With rooms dedicated to armors and swords, tea ceremony utensils, Noh theater masks, and a whole library with thousands of historical texts this museum is a chance to glimpse into a colorful past. Next to the museum is the Tokugawa Garden, a beautiful Japanese landscape garden with a pond in the middle and paths crisscrossing the carefully thought through the park.
Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
Toyota didn't start out as the biggest car manufacturer in Japan. It started out as a textile company. At Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, you can learn all about Toyota's past, from textile maker to car maker. It is a very interesting museum with audio guides and even guided tours in English and Japanese. There are activities for children and many interesting exhibits for grown-ups. Perfect for a rainy day. Or a super hot summer day, and of those there are many. Anyway, one of the top tourist attractions in Nagoya.
The most sacred place in Nagoya is Atsuta Jingu in the south of the city. This Shinto shrine is almost 2000 years old and it is one of the top things to do in Nagoya. It houses one of the most important artifacts in Japan, the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi, which gives the Japanese emperor the right to rule. If you are wondering what is Nagoya famous for, this is definitely one of the most famous attractions (along with the other presented above). Unfortunately, the sword is not open to the public. But the shrine itself is a very lovely place. Surrounded by woods and with many sacred sites along a winding path leading to the main shrine.
Nagoya City Science Museum
Still wondering what to do in Nagoya? Then you need to know that The Nagoya City Science Museum is a fun place for the whole family. One of the highlights here is the planetarium one of the largest in the world. The program changes monthly and focuses on current astronomical phenomena. Unfortunately, the shows are only conducted in Japanese but it is still an impressive sight and a great place to explore on a rainy day and one of the best places to visit in Nagoya.
Insider's Guide to Nagoya, Japan
February 18, 2021