Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi ()

Situated along the Pacific coast on central Honshu and a 5-hour drive from Kanto Plain is Nagoya, the fourth largest city of Japan with over 2.3 million people. The city is home to plenty of culture and history, such as a majestic castle, modern skyscrapers, a prestigious Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple, and a shopping arcade, making Nagoya a great place for a quick getaway.

My wife, daughter and I recently visited Nagoya to check out the unique townscape which is made up of new and old tourist attractions.

Nagoya Station, aka Meieki, made us feel like we were in the presence of a gigantic spaceship. Two staggering cylindrical silver skyscrapers of JR Central Towers form one of the world’s largest train station complexes.

Near the main entrance of the complex’s Kintetsu Department Store, we found a 6-meter-tall mannequin called “Nana-chan Ningyo.” This unusual mannequin is considered a symbol of Nagoya Station and is often used as a landmark to meet up with friends. The giant mannequin changes her attire periodically, and when we saw it on our visit, she was in a colorful fancy kimono, which was designed and manufactured by local highschoolers.

While walking in the city center, we found the Nagoya TV Tower, one of the oldest TV towers in Japan. The 180-meter-tall tower, built in 1953, is a representation of Nagoya. It was designated as the nation’s important cultural asset in 2022. You can go up the tower to the “sky balcony” observation deck (100-meter above the surface) to enjoy a spectacular view of the whole city.

Also located in the city center is Osu Kannon, a popular Buddhist temple with beautiful buildings and a bell tower of bright red pillars and beams. People come to the temple to worship the wooden statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. The statue of the Japanese deity was carved by Priest Kobo Daishi in the 9th century.

Nearby, we found the entrance to the great Osu Shopping Arcade, which is home to over 400 shops and restaurants. You can buy just about anything in the arcade, ranging from local food, clothes and electronics, to cosplay, anime, J-pop and idol goods.

About a 15-minute drive from Nagoya Station is Nagoya Castle. It is one of Japan’s largest castles, famous for its gigantic five-story tower complete with a pair of golden shachihoko (two end tiles of castle roof) ornaments. The original castle was built in 1615 but was destroyed in the air raids of 1945; it was reconstructed in 1959. (The main castle tower is currently closed for reconstruction work.)

Located in the southern part of Nagoya City is Japan’s famous Shinto Shrine Atsuta Jingu. Atsuta Jingu dates back over 1,900 years and over 7 million people visit the prestigious shrine annually. After we entered the large shrine field through a gigantic white torii gate, we walked through a forest of ancient trees to the main shrine building. Then, we tossed a coin, made two bows, clapped our hands twice, then bowed deeply at the front of the main hall to make our wish.

The shrine’s treasure hall has a large collection of over 6,000 samurai swords on rotational display. When visiting, you can check out the displayed swords, along with sacred garments, manuscripts and mirrors.

We found Nagoya to be a large city filled with both modern and traditional beauties, which makes it an ideal location for a daytrip. While there, be sure to sample misonikomiudon (stewed udon noodles in miso broth and vegetables) and tebasaki chicken wings, as the Nagoya’s piquant red miso is famed throughout the nation for its intense, sweet and savory flavors.

Make plans for your own visit!

Check out Nagoya City

Location: 3-1-1 Sannomaru, Naka-ku, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture (Nagoya City Hall)

Tel: 052-961-1111 (Nagoya City Hall)


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