Nagoya Travel Guide   名古屋

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Nagoya castle amid the cherry trees.

Nagoya castle in the 1930s, before its destruction


The entrance to the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya.

The entrance to Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya.

The impressive ferris wheel in Sakae, Nagoya.


Traditional houses in Arimatsu

Motor City

It's known more for Toyota and its industrial port than for its appeal to tourists. However, Nagoya contains a major Shinto shrine, hosts a large sumo tournament, and is a great place to taste the delicious specialties of the Chubu region.

The fate of the capital of Chubu is closely linked to a key figure in Japanese history: Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of a long dynasty. In 1601 he decided to begin the construction of five roads linking major Japanese cities, and made Nagoya an important step in the Minoji road, a secondary road linking the Tokaido Road - between Tokyo, when it was the political capital, and Kyoto, home to the Emperor - to that of the Nakasendo.

Tokugawa and Toyota

In 1610, the shogun built a castle on a hill north of the city for his seventh son, Yoshinao. It quickly became the symbol of Nagoya, but American bombs destroyed it in 1945 - along with much of the city.

What you see today is a concrete replica. But a thirty minute walk to the east, following Dekimachi-dori avenue, leads you to an art museum dedicated to the Tokugawa family that is much more interesting and beautiful, and adjacent to the Tokugawa-en Japanese gardens.

Aside from these remnants of the Edo period, it must be said that Nagoya isn't the most exciting city for tourists, rather it's a sprawling metropolis (the fourth largest city in Japan, with over 2 million inhabitants) and an industrial capital, defined by its huge train station, its port (where there is a very good aquarium), and factories of the car manufacturer Toyota.

That said, with Legoland having opened not long ago in 2017 and Ghibli Park set to open in 2022, there's plenty in Nagoya to attract more visitors in the future!

Atsuta, imperial shrine

Nagoya is also one of four Japanese cities to host sumo tournaments (you can attend in July), and has some interesting sights, such as the impressive science museum and planetarium, the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Contemporary Art) and particularly the mythical Shinto shrine Atsuta-jingu, dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu (the founder of the imperial dynasty).

Further south, the popular area of Arimatsu is lively and bustling, and one of the few areas not to have been destroyed by bombs in 1945. 

Local specialities

Nagoya is known among the Japanese for its uniquely delicious food, so why not discover the typical dishes of the city? Try the tebasaki, grilled spicy chicken wings often served at local izakaya since they go well with beer, kishimen, large flat wheat noodles in broth, miso katsu, breaded pork cutlet served with a rich red miso sauce, or hitsumabushi, eel grilled over a wood fire and served on rice. 

The grilled chicken wings tebasaki, a specialty of Nagoya.

Tebasaki, a delicious Nagoya specialty.