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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide On What To Do In Nagoya

the ultimate beginner's guide what to do in nagoya Japan Travel Guide

Have you ever heard “Nagoya” city in Japan?

Like, Tokyo is the biggest city in the east and Osaka is in the west, Nagoya is the biggest city in the central regions of Japan.

Compared with Japanese popular sightseeing cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and more, Nagoya doesn’t get decent reputations from Japanese and International travelers.

It is true if you are looking for Japanese traditional & cool aesthetic, Nagoya is hardly beyond these 3 cities. But for “automobile manufacturing geeks”, “foodies”, and “shoppers”, Nagoya is not so bad.

Besides, Ghibli park will be opened in 2022, you have to learn Nagoya.

Another point of view, Nagoya is a very convenient city to access Tokyo (East) and Kyoto•Osaka (West), indeed it is only a 90-minute Shinkansen ride to Tokyo, a 30-minute ride to Kyoto, and an hour ride to Osaka.


There are direct flights from Honolulu, Detroit, and Atlanta, from Finland, from many Asian countries to Nagoya Chubu Centrair airport, you can stay in Nagoya before heading to west or east.

Or if you are planning to purchase “Japan Rail Pass“, you can hop off Nagoya easily by Shinkansen.

But I know you may want to save precious time for other cities, but I lived in Nagoya for 10 years so I know Nagoya well.

Today, I am going to tell you what you can do in Nagoya.

Read this, and maybe consider exploring Nagoya.

Nagoya Castle

nagoya castle

The Castle Tower

As well as other cities, “Nagoya Castle” is a popular tourist spot in Nagoya.

The original castle tower and surrounding buildings which were built in 1612 burnt down during World War II, it was one of the largest castles and said twice as big as the Himeji castle at that time.

The current ferroconcrete construction has been built since 1959 with the great contribution of citizens, the Nagoya city decided to rebuild the castle tower with the original design and materials(woods) due to deterioration of a building.

In addition, the new castle palace (Honmaru Goten) was reopened to the public in 2018 after 9 years of reconstruction. Half of a century after its destruction in the war, the palace was rebuilt using traditional construction materials and techniques.

nagoya castle honmaru goten

Especially you can’t miss the fusuma (Japanese traditional door) and ceiling paintings with ancient techniques and wisdom.

Taste Local Culinary, Buy Nagoya Gifts For FAMS; Kinshachi Yokocho (金シャチ横丁)

Kinshachi Yokocho, Alley, eateries, Nagoya Castle, Nagoya, Japan

What’s “Kinshachi”???

“Kinshachi” literally means “Golden killer whale”, and the killer whale is the signature symbol of Nagoya city that comes from the decorations of Nagoya castle tower roof.

“Kinshachi Yokocho”(金シャチ横丁) was opened in 2018 as the new tourist attraction. There are several eateries and gift shops to present local delicacies in the Nagoya castle property.

Kinchachi Yokocho has two areas, one is at the main gate, another one is at the East gate.

One of the foodie’s spots to taste “Nagoya Meshi”(名古屋めし) at one place, “Nagoya Meshi” is the nickname for Nagoya local delicacies.

  • The pioneering restaurant of Misonikomi Udon noodles; Yamamotoya Sohonke
  • The deluxe local chicken “Nagoya Kochin” dishes; Torikai Sohonke
  • “Hitumabushi”– Nagoya style grilled eel dish; Hitumabushi Bincho
  • Nagoya style huge pork cutlet with miso sauce; Yabaton
  • Good For vegetarians; Nagoya Tofu Kawaguchi
  • Tempura on the rice; Tokugawa Chubei
  • The high-quality local butcher, “sukiyaki” restaurant; Sugimoto
  • Try unique taste Nagoya style spaghetti pasta; Ankake Taro
  • Jiro style Ramen in Nagoya; Fujiyama55

Meet Samurai Commanders; Nagoya Omotenashi Bushotai (名古屋おもてなし武将隊)

nagoya omotenashi busho tai

The Nagoya Omotenashi Bushotai is the performer team of Good Looking Warrior Commanders, you can meet them every day in Nagoya Castle.

Feel free to talk to them who speak ancient Japanese and wear Samurai costumes. If you are lucky to see “Ieyasu Tokugawa”, he can speak quite good English!

Official website


Nagoya Sightseeing Route bus…Get off stop 4 (the main gate) or stop5 (the east side of the castle)

Subway…Take exit 7 at “Shiyakusyo (the city hall) station” on “Meijyo Line (purple line)”

Osu Kannon; The Arcade Shopping District

osuannon nagoya

“Osu shopping district”(大須商店街) is the old shopping streets around “Osu Kannon Temple” which has a 400-year history.
The lively beloved arcade shopping streets are small cosmopolitan, feel a mixed culture and atmosphere, you never get tired to walk around to see hundreds of unique shops from old fashion to modern items.

Many immigrants live in Aichi Prefecture, especially Osu shopping districts have an exotic atmosphere from Brazil, Turkey, Peru…

osu kannon

Osu shopping district is also well-known as the deep spot in Nagoya, is always busy with fashion geeks, subculture geeks, local elderly shoppers. Hundreds of shops densely concentrated, such as street foods, cutting-edge fashion, unique used clothing, second-hand goods, leather products, and “Otaku” goods.

Osu Street Foods

The Osu Shopping Street has long been popular as a foodie town in Nagoya. Osu gourmet is often broadcast on TV, and the food menu varies from traditional to trendy, from domestic to overseas. You can enjoy Osu gourmet, which is cheap and attractive Osu food.

Tsukiji GinDako (Takoyaki)

gindako, oosu, nagoya

It is not “Nagoya Meshi”, but I’m sure that Takoyaki is in your bucket list. The reason I pick up it here because I love “Tsukiji Gindaco”(築地 銀だこ) very much, and always eat their Takoyaki balls at Osu branch. Especially weekends, the vendor gets so busy and almost hard to get a table on the street in front of the shop, but I want you to try it!

Because of the popular and busy all the time, takoyaki is always freshly cooked. So crispy outside and the creamy inside.

By the way, according to Osaka & Kansai region residents, “Tsukiji Gindaco” is not an authentic Osaka Takoyaki.

Click Here to read about the difference of Takoyaki between Osaka and Tokyo.

Lee’s Taiwan Kitchen (Fried chicken)

ee's taiwan kitchen

Since the “Karaage” (Japanese fried chicken) boom, several fried chicken vendors have been opened in the Osu shopping district.

“Lee’s Taiwan kitchen” is one of them, there are three branches in the area.

The taste is not authentic Japanese Karaage, however, Asian aroma is addicted and chicken is very crispy. (The owner Mr. Lee is from Taiwan.)

Also, you can choose the hot level. (of course, there is non-spicy chicken too).

The chicken will be served in a cup.

ShinSuzume Honten (Japanese rice dumpling balls)

mitarashi dango

“Shinsuzume Honten”(新雀本店) has been loved by local people for a long time. You can find the shop very easily because there is always a long line.

The charcoaled skewered rice dumplings are re-grilled after dipping in the savory soy sauce graze which is a secret recipe that has been used for over 50 years.

The rice dumpling stick has two flavors- Soy sauce and “Sweet Kinako (soybean) powder”.

Osu Kannon

osu kannon japanmcconnell

In 1612, “Osu Kannon” was relocated from Hashima, Gifu as part of flood countermeasures. It is one of the three largest Kannon in Japan, along with Tokyo Asakusa Kannon and Mietsu Kannon.

Kannon Bodhisattva is a merciful Bodhisattva who helps the people from suffering. The Bodhisattva was originally a term used to refer to the Buddha’s training period, but nowadays it refers to monks who train for enlightenment.

There are many visitors in the “Gohondo”, the main temple, all the time. Go upstairs, throw coins in the offering box, and pray. The current temple is the third generation, lost once in a fire in the Meiji era, and lost again during World War II.

incense burner

You may be curious that many visitors lead the smoke from the incense burner into the hands and rub their heads, this behavior means they believe that illness and injuries will cure if they do so.


Subway…Tsurumai (Blue) Line, “Osukannon” station or Meijo (Purple) Line & Tsurumai Line, “Kamimaezu” station.

Atsuta Jingu Shrine & Atuta Shrine Gourmet

atsuta jingu

“Atsuta Jingu Shrine(熱田神宮)” is a famous Shinto shrine and has been especially revered as well as the Grand Shrine of Ise since ancient times. It is believed that Atsuta Shrine was built to enshrine the Kusanagi no Tsurugi, the Imperial Regalia of Japan. Besides, Japanese Imperial of the house worships Atsuta Shrine for thousands of years.

The Shrine, which has a history of more than 1900, is so rich in myths, legends, and other highlights.

Nobunagabei, the wall made by Nobunaga Oda, Japanese Samurai commander, Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya, JapanSource; 信長塀(のぶながべい) 日本三大土塀, Wikipedia

Let’s find the famous earthen wall built in 1560 by Nobunaga Oda who is one of the legendary Samurai commanders.

The sacred Kusunoki tree, the scared camphor tree, the scared big snake living, Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya, Japan

It is said that the sacred big snake lives in one of the sacred seven large Kusunoki (camphor tree) in the precincts of Atsuta Jingu.

nijugochobashi, the oldest stone bridge in Nagoya, Atsuta jingu Shrine, Nagoya, JapanSource; Wikipedia

“Niju Go Cho Bashi”(二十五丁橋), made of 25 stone plates, is said to be the oldest bridge in Nagoya.


  • JR Tokai Line…JR Atsuta station
  • Meitetsu………..Jingumae station
  • Subway, Meijo (Purple) Line…Jingumae station or Temma-cho station

Atsuta Shrine Gourmet

Atsuta Shrine, which is familiar to local residents, is called “Atsuta-san”, there are several local foods associated with “Atsuta-San”.

Miya Kishimen (宮きしめん)

Miyakishimen, Kishimen noodles, Nagoya Meshi, Local food, Japanese food, Nagoya

Source; Wikipedia

“Kishimen Noodles” is one of the popular Nagoya Meshi, especially “Miya Kishimen”(宮きしめん)” attracts worshippers because you can eat Kishimen Noodles in the shrine property.

Miyakishimen has been loved by local residents and visitors since 1926, “Miya Kishimen” named after Atsuta Jingu Shrine. (Miya refers to “Shrine”.)

Kiyome Mochi (きよめ餅)

Kiyome mochi, Japanese traditional sweet, rice cake, the red bean paste filling, Anko, Habutaemochi, Nagoya, Japan

Source; Wikipedia

“Kiyome Mochi”(きよめ餅) is the traditional rice cake with the sweet red bean paste filling. Since the founder and owner opened “Kiyomemochi Sohonke” near the shrine and began selling “Kiyomemochi” to make a special sweet like “Akafuku Mochi” of Ise Shrine. The silky soft rice cake with red bean paste filling became a specialty of the Atuta shrine instantly, and then relocated to *the current location. Today, “Kiyomemochi” is recognized as “Must-eat” and “Must-buy” sweets among visitors.

*As well as “Miyakishimen”, you can enjoy Kiyomemochi & Matcha green tea at “Kiyome Chaya”(きよめ茶屋) in the shrine property.

Atsuta Horaiken (あつた蓬莱軒)


If you plan to eat “Hitsumabushi” at Atsuta Horaiken”, better to fill out the waiting list before visiting the shrine.

Kishimen is good as a light-meal, but you can’t miss “Hitsumabushi” if you are in Nagoya!

“Atsuta Horaiken”(あつた蓬莱軒) is a very popular “Hitumabushi” restaurant in Nagoya, and the main restaurant is very close to the shrine.

It will be almost impossible to get the table without waiting in a line, but you are allowed to go for walk to the shrine while waiting for the table.


Tokugawaen; Japanese garden

tokugawaen Japanese garden

“Tokugawaen”(徳川園) is the Japanese garden, where you can enjoy different aspects throughout the four seasons in the vast garden.

Especially, you can’t miss the fall festival from the end of November through December, you can see beautiful autumn colors and also the light-up is beautiful at night.


From Ozone Station on the Meijo Line of the Nagoya subway and JR Line, walk south about 15 minutes.

If you use the sightseeing bus, it’s handy to get to the garden and get off stop 6.

Yanagibashi Central Market

yanagibashi fish market

The central kitchen in the central regions, “Yanagibashi Central Market”(柳橋中央市場), the local fish market is located within walking distance from Nagoya station.

This market, located in the city center, originally started by wholesalers spontaneously gathered by in the early 1900s. Now “Marunaka Food center” owns this market which is the largest market owned by the private business. The market location in the busy area is very unusual compared with other markets in Japan.

Better to visit the market by 10 am if you want to see the market live, yet, use common sense to get around in the market especially when taking pictures. (But they didn’t look blood was up compared when we visited Tsukiji market.)


Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium

port o f nagoya aquarium

“Nagoya Port Aquarium(名古屋港水族館)” is a popular attraction among visitors located in Nagoya Port and consists of two buildings, the South Building and the North Building.

The South Building displays marine life from Japan to the Southern Hemisphere in five categories of water tanks, and the North Building exhibits the evolution of dolphin and whale lives.

You can meet dolphins, beluga, penguins, seals, and killer whales,

Not many aquariums breed killer whales in Japan, and Nagoya port Aquarium is famous for its well-care them.

In addition, the Port of Nagoya Aquarium is also the leading aquarium in marine research, such as having a turtle aquaculture laboratory that artificially hatches sea turtles.

My recommendation is the dolphin show, it’s so speedy and exciting, which was one of my hubby’s favorite things to do in Nagoya. We enjoyed the show with cups of cold beer!

SCMAGLEV And Railway Park

scmaglev and rail museum

If you like trains, no doubt you will enjoy this museum provided by the Japan Railway company.

Even if you come to the museum as a partner’s hobby, you’ll be impressed by the new and old trains and the Shinkansen, and you’ll find that there’s so much to see and learn.

The museum is large and clean, so you can forget about the time to look around and taste the popular bento lunch box in the cafeteria.

The large realistic diorama on the 2nd floor is recommended, and you can overlook the popular cities along the Shinkansen. Lights change to show different times of the day, so you’ll never get tired of seeing the details.


Take “Aonami Line” and get off “Kinjyo Futo station”.

Downtoen Sakae

“Sakae” district is downtown of Nagoya city.

People visit here mainly shopping, so there are major department stores and shops around the main streets.

  • Matsuzaka-ya (a department store)
  • Mitsukoshi (a department store)
  • Parco (a fashion building)
  • Lachic (a luxury fashion building)
  • Tokyu Hands (DIY, stationery, cosmetics store)
  • Loft (DIY, stationery, cosmetics store)
  • Apple store
  • Forever21
  • H & M
  • Zara
  • Sakae Chika (the underground shopping mall)
  • Central Park (the underground shopping mall)

Oasis 21 / Central Park

“Oasis 21” is the center of the central park where is Nagoya’s popular sightseeing spot, shopping venue, eating location and event site.

light up show in oasis 21

The 14 meters high object made with glass-top and steel pipe architecture. Water filled with the glass top and lighted up at night to enhance water reflections.

sakae nagoya

Next to Oasis 21, The iconic Nagoya TV Tower which will be renewed in September 2020 greets you.

Maker’s Pier

“Maker’s Pier” located in the Kinjo Futo area (Kinjo Wharf), is a complex facility where you can experience various manufacturing activities with the theme of enhancing the vitality of people through manufacturing.

It is divided into three areas: the “Forest Garden” centered around hands-on facilities, the “Central Park” lined with restaurants, and the “Uptown” centered around sundries and accessories stores.

Makers Pier is adjacent to Legoland Japan, it also connects to the Legoland gate. (You can’t enter Legoland unless paying the ticket.)

• What You Can Produce???

  • A Glass-made Stamp
  • Original Designed T-shirt
  • A Food Sample
  • Shrimp Rice Crackers
  • And More…

As another popular (scary) attraction, there is the haunted house well-known one of the scariest haunted houses in Japan.

“Daiba Kaiki School”(台場怪奇学校) is a walk-through type horror attraction. The theme of the haunted house is a cursed elementary school closed 40 years ago. Walk with a group holding a flashlight. It is often selected as the scariest haunted house among the Japanese.

Well, let’s change a subject! In Maker’s Pier, there is a variety of eateries and you better go there when visiting the Kinjo Futo area.

Maker’s Pier
Address: 2-1 Kinjo Futo 2-chome, Minato-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 455-0848
Business hours: Varies by store

*Please check the opening hours of each shop as the opening hours may differ depending on the shop.

Get the prepaid transportation card

ic card in japan

The prepaid transportation card is very handy to see around downtown throughout Japan, Nagoya is no an exception. 

You can buy “Manaca” card from the ticket vending machines at any station or ticket offices. 


Nagoya is famous for its original unique foods called “Nagoya Meshi”.

Nagoya city has another nickname, which is “Non-attractive sightseeing city” among Japanese people, however, it is enough to spend one day to see around the city.

The public transportation is very convenient and organized, you can visit suburbs (many interesting spots around Nagoya) easily.

I give you the perfect itinerary using subways for one day!

Nagoya information

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