Originally born as a castle town, Nagoya is now one of Japan’s largest cities, the fourth most populated in fact. The capital city of Aichi Prefecture, it sits along the Pacific coast of central Honshu. With a diverse history, abundantly beautiful natural surroundings and groundbreaking architecture, a visit to this fascinating city offers plenty not matter your motivation for travel.
The city was built on the Nobi Plain, stretching from southwest Gifu to northwest Aichi Prefecture, this is generally considered to be one of Japan’s most fertile plains. Sitting on the northern side of Ise Bay, Nagoya was built along low plateau as a way to prevent floodwaters from this area from infiltrating the city
Nagoya Castle was completed in 1612, as a home for the ruling Tokugawa family. It was one of the family’s three branches, known as the Owari branch. It was one of the largest castles in Japan, and thanks to its connections to this powerful family, it essentially spawned the metropolis of Nagoya that we see today.
In 1945, during the air raids of World War II, a large portion of the castle was completely obliterated. However three corner towers, gates, and a large collection of the castle’s paintings and walls in the Hommaru Palace survived the fires and became the foundation from which the castle was recreated. Surrounded by a moat and cherry trees, it’s is best enjoyed during spring when the castle grounds come alive as clusters of cherry trees fill the area with soft, fragrant, pink blossoms.
Beyond the castle, Nagoya has plenty of other historic attractions, and a number of contemporary ones too. There’s Osu Kannon Temple a historic Buddhist temple which sits in the center of the city, and one of Japan’s most significant centers of worship, Atsuta Jinja which sits to the south of the city. If you’re looking to explore a more modern side of the city, visit Osu Shopping Street Shotengai, which is typically known as Nagoya’s version of Akihabara, there you’ll find an eclectic collection of stores selling Japanese pop culture goods and electronics.
Nagoya is also home to one of Japan’s biggest train stations making it an easy place to access from almost anywhere in Japan. Nagoya Station houses the JR Central Towers, one of the main headquarters for the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central). If you want to learn more about its locomotive history, be sure to visit the city’s SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, a railway museum of JR Central. You’ll find displays, real retired train cars and interactive exhibits covering every facet of the nation’s fascination with trains.
The best way to the to Nagoya via public transport is to take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya Station. This train line travels through most of Japan’s major cities including Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya Osaka, and Kyoto. From Tokyo the trip takes around an hour and 40 minutes and costs 11,290 yen each way. From Kyoto it takes a little over half an hour and costs 6,000 yen each way. For a budget alternative you can also consider the highway bus, which from Tokyo takes about five to six hours and generally costs 5,000 yen each way. For international guests, Nagoya is also home to Chubu Central International Airport.