Visiting Nagoya in Japan
The Japanese city of Nagoya (名古屋) doesn't usually make it to most tourist itineraries. Many visitors pass right through the city on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
If you do happen to stop off, you'll discover a castle, temples, shrines, some interesting places to shop and the home of pachinko.
With over two million people living there, Nagoya is Japan's fourth most populated city. It is the capital and largest city of Aichi prefecture in the Chubu region of Honshu (the largest island of Japan).
Although it may not quite have the historical charm of Kyoto or the excitement of Tokyo, there is still enough to keep you busy for a day or two.
Let's take a tour of Nagoya...
What is Pachinko?
Pachinko is a mechanical game which uses a machine a little like a vertical pinball machine. The player fires balls into the machine and has to capture as many balls as possible. The game began in Nagoya in the 1930s and has since spread throughout the country
What to See and Do in Nagoya?
A popular family attraction is the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, where you can see all kinds of sea life and enjoy shows by dolphins.
For auto-enthusiasts, there is the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. The museum tells the story of the Toyota corporation from its beginnings as an industrial loom manufacturer to the world's largest car manufacturers. The company's headquarters are actually located in the city of Toyota, less than one hour east of central Nagoya.
If religious sites are more your thing, you should check out Atsuta Jingo Shrine. This is a Shinto shrine. Shinto is an indigenous spirituality of Japan. In the Shinto religion, power comes from nature. This shrine is surrounded by very large trees. Many festivals take place there throughout the year.
Another religious site worth checking out is Ōsu Kannon. This is a Buddhist temple which was originally built in 1333 in an area that is now the city of Hashima in Gifu prefecture. The temple was moved to its current location in 1612 because of flooding.
The temple contains a large collection of books. There about 15,000 classic Japanese and Chinese works.
Near to the temple is the Osu shopping area which is a great place to take a stroll and pick up some Japanese souvenirs. With its mix of old and new, you can find all kinds of everything: vintage clothing, classic tailor-made Kimonos, musical instruments, arts, crafts, manga.
The area of Sakae is the main shopping district of Nagoya. This is the best place for elegant shopping malls and department stores, like Matsuzakaya, Maruei Sakae and Mitsukoshi. If all the shopping makes you hungry, there are plenty of great places to eat in the area.
Near to Sakae is Nadya Park, where you can find the International Design Centre. Also in Nadya Park and well worth a look is the Loft department store, which is great for all your art, design and craft needs.
Walking around the downtown Sakae area, you will no doubt come across Oasis 21. It may be just a bus terminal, but it is pretty impressive. You can climb the stairs of the intriguing glass structure and walk above the shoppers below.
To complete your sightseeing checklist, you should probably head on over to Nagoya Castle. This castle was built by Tokugawa for his ninth son from 1610 to 1614. The original castle was destroyed in World War II and replaced by a concrete replica in 1959. There's a museum inside with armor, treasures and histories of the families who resided there.
The castle is surrounded by Meijō Park. Flower exhibits are sometimes held in the park. Another pleasant park in the city is Tsuramai Park. This park is particularly popular during the Sakura (cherry blossom) blossom viewing season in spring.