As the manufacturing and shipping hub of central Honshu, Nagoya is quickly becoming one of Japan’s must-visit cities. The bustling Nagoya Port makes for the perfect stop-over on your cruise. There is so much waiting to be explored in this portside city and the city has many amazing things on offer to those wanting to explore off the beaten tourist trail. If you’re wondering what to do in this unique city then this guide is just what you need, it’s packed full of the top 10 best places to visit during your time in Nagoya.
The Port of Nagoya
One of the best places to visit in Nagoya, particularly for those traveling with kids, is the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium. The aquarium is one of the best in Japan with an exciting collection of native marine life and many exotic species of fish from all over the Pacific. If you’re lucky, you may even get a chance to see the incredible dolphin show. The port is also home to the historic Antarctic exploration vessel, the Fuji which is well worth checking out. The now-retired Fuji has been repurposed as an informative and fun museum, dedicated to the famous exploration to the South Pole.
Nagoya TV Tower
At the center of the beautiful Hisaya Ōdori Park is the Eiffel-Tower-like Nagoya TV Tower. This 180-meter-tall tower has two observation decks: the outdoor Sky Balcony at a dizzying 100 meters and the indoor Sky Deck at 90 meters. If you’re looking for the best place in Nagoya to take in the city views, this tower is the go-to place. The tower also holds a world record for being the oldest electric wave tower in Japan. If you want to learn more about the tower then the onsite exhibition of the history of the TV Tower is well worth a visit.
This iconic, picture-perfect castle should be near the top of any of your lists when planning the best places to visit in Nagoya. This ancient castle houses a museum containing art treasures, such as painted wall screens, sliding doors, and wall paintings mainly of the Kano school. This moated complex was built in 1612 but like many buildings in Japan, it was partly destroyed during World War II. Three of the original corner towers survived, along with the second gateway and walls but restoration work being carried out is returning Nagoya Castle to its original condition. Our favorite thing to see is the mighty 48-meter-tall main tower, topped with the mysterious golden shachihoko creatures, which are said to have the head of a tiger and the body of a fish.
Explore the Nagoya City Science Museum
Nagoya City Science Museum is home to the largest planetarium in the world and is one of the best museums in Japan. Uncover the workings of our solar system, watch live shows of fun science experiments and explore a range of quirky attractions that science fans and aspiring scientists will love such as a tornado laboratory and a freezing laboratory. The Nagoya City Science Museum is one of the best places to visit in Nagoya if you're looking for things to do in Nagoya with kids.
The Tokugawa and Nagoya City Art Museums
The Tokugawa is home to all sorts of treasures that once belonged to the wealthy Tokugawa family and is definitely one of Nagoya’s best art facilities. You’ll be in awe of the exquisite art, ancient documents, and porcelain weaponry on display. If you’re a fan of Surrealism then the Nagoya City Art Museum is a must-visit. You’ll find a large collection of Surrealist works from artists all around the world here. If you’re a lover of art then the Nagoya Museum of Fine Arts, which is the sister museum of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, is a must-visit. Home to works from Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Degas if you’re a fan of Impressionist pieces.
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This lush, green 22,000 square meter garden was built on Noritake ceramics’ former factory grounds and is a short walk from Nagoya Station. The urban oasis of Noritake Garden sheds light on the history of Noritake ceramics and its beautiful products while providing a stunning recreational space in the middle of Nagoya. There is something for everyone in Noritake Garden. The Culture Zone is where you can discover the culture of Nagoya, then there is the Commercial Zone, a place to enjoy daily living, and finally the Historical Zone, a place to experience Nagoya’s history.
Osu Shopping District
The Osu Shopping District is a shopper’s paradise, home to hundreds of stores waiting to be explored. Whether you’re looking for thrift stores full of second-hand gems to take back home or just wanting to browse through the many quirky stores. The Osu Shopping District is also known as one of the top electronics districts in Japan along with Akihabara in Tokyo and is home to the annual World Cosplay Summit. While exploring all the shops be sure to stop off for some of the best Nagoya cuisines at one of the many restaurants in the district.
Enter through a narrow path which turns to the left through the Chinese gate. Descend a set of ancient stone stairs and you will see the famous sitting Buddha image on your left. Painted in vibrant green, you definitely won’t miss this impressive 15-meter high statue of the seated Buddha. The 16th-century temple is dedicated to the Hindu faith and was built to honor the Goddess Saraswati who also has her own festival each year which is held in Nagoya in May. Look out for one of the signature features of the temple, there is a large woodblock here which is said to cleanse you of your sins if you touch it.
Visit Nittaiji Temple
The Nittaiji Temple was built in honor of the special relationship between Thailand and Japan. This Buddhist temple dates back to 1904 and is home to the perfect blend of Japanese and Thai traditions which makes it one of the most unique temples in the whole of Japan. This special place holds the holy remains of Buddha and is the only temple in Japan that does not belong to any specific sect but rather represents all the sects. There are various celebrations held at the temple throughout the year, from Buddha’s birthday assembly held on the 8th of April to the Kobo Daishi fair held on the 21st of each month.
Visit the Atsuta Shrine
This shrine, which sits in a picturesque garden of cypress trees, is considered to be one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan. It was established in the first century AD but like many buildings in Japan, it was destroyed and was rebuilt in 1966. Famous for its incredibly preserved Imperial insignia, the Grass-Cutting Sword (Kusanagi no Tsurugi), one of only three in the country. In the northern part of the wooded precinct is the principal shrine, Hongu, surrounded by an enclosing wall, and to the east is the Treasure Hall, a modern building that contains a large number of works of art including paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and traditional masks.
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