10 things to do in Nagoya
Nagoya City (名古屋市 Nagoya-shi), capital of Aichi Prefecture (愛知県 Aichi-ken), has traditionally been regarded as the industrial heart of Japan. Home to big names such as Toyota, Brother, and Rinnai, there is way more to the third-largest city of Japan than just serving as a convenient stop halfway between Tokyo and Osaka. Be it history, technology or food, Nagoya has something for everyone.
1. Nagoya’s Morning Service
Crusty toast, creamy butter, and sweet red bean paste. (Image credit: Jodie Sun)
Start your day early with a thick slice of Ogura (小倉) toast, a Nagoya specialty featuring a thick slice of buttered toast topped with red bean paste.
There are few better reasons to be an early bird than Nagoya's famous Morning Service (モーニングサービス) breakfasts. The custom of providing free eggs or toast with coffee may have originated as a means of keeping customers loyal, but is now a cherished part of Nagoya culture.
2. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
What Toyota used to produce before it started making cars: Textiles! (Image credit: Jodie Sun)
Pay homage to Nagoya’s industrial heritage by checking out the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (トヨタ産業技術記念館 Toyota Sangyō-gijutsu Kinenkan). The museum is located slightly out of the city proper, but is definitely worth your while. Check out some of the earliest Toyota products and retrace the company’s history from its early textile manufacturing days to its establishment as a global automobile giant in the present.
TOYOTA Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (トヨタ産業技術記念館)
Address: 4-1-35, Noritake Shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 451-0051
Nearest station: Nagoya Station (名古屋駅)
Opening hours: 09:30–17:00 (Admission until 16:30)
Admission fee: ¥500 (Adults), ¥300 (Junior high school/high school students), ¥200 (Elementary school students), ¥300 (Seniors over 65 years old)
3. Toyota Kaikan Museum
Robots are the future at Toyota. (Image credit: Jodie Sun)
Leap ahead in time and get serenaded by a robot at the Toyota Kaikan Museum (トヨタ会館 Toyota Kaikan)! Here, you can get a glimpse of some of the futuristic technologies that Toyota is currently working on. Hybrid cars, A.I., and robots are just some of the cool technologies that you can get to see and experience at the museum! Car enthusiasts will definitely love being able to see and touch all the Toyota cars on display in the massive showroom.
I strongly recommend booking a plant tour, which are offered in both English and Japanese. The tour gives visitors a chance to observe the assembly line in real time, where you will get to witness firsthand Toyota’s precise and efficient manufacturing processes that gave rise to jidōka (自動化), kanban (看板), and kaizen (改善). These three concepts have been adopted and implemented in factories all around the world!
Toyota Kaikan Museum (トヨタ会館)
Address: 1 Toyota-cho, Toyota-shi, Aichi, 471-0826
Nearest station: Mikawa-Toyota Station (三河豊田駅)
Opening hours: 09:30–17:00
Admission fee: Free
Tel: +81-565 29 3355 (Plant Tour Reservation)
4. Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle before sunset. (Image credit: Jodie Sun)
Nagoya Castle (名古屋城 Nagoya-jō) was built by the first shogun (将軍) of Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), after he finally succeeded in unifying Japan. You could spend an entire day here learning about the powerful Tokugawa clan and what life was like under their rule. Do also take note of the beautifully-replicated artwork and decorations within the castle, as well as the shachihoko (鯱), mythical creatures that were believed to be able to put out fires.
One of the shachihoko in Nagoya Castle. (Image credit: Jodie Sun)
These golden shachihoko are almost synonymous with Nagoya Castle nowadays, and can be spotted almost everywhere on the premises.
Nagoya Castle (名古屋城)
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0031
Nearest station: Shiyakusho (City Hall) Station (市役所駅)
Opening hours: 09:00–16:30 (Last entrance is at 16:00)
Admission fee: ¥500 (Adults), Free (Children aged 15 and younger)
5. SCMaglev and Railway Park
Shinkansen bullet trains through history. (Image credit: Jodie Sun)
The SCMaglev and Railway Park (リニア・鉄道館 Rinia Tetsudōkan) is a paradise for train lovers. One of the best railway museums in Japan, this Railway Park offers a shinkansen (新幹線 bullet train) simulator, various dioramas, and a whole lineup of shinkansen trains for railway buffs and curious souls to explore.
From retro steam locomotives all the way to the avant garde Maglev (magnetically-levitated) trains, this museum has them all on display. Fun fact: JR Central, the company that operates this rail museum, is Japan’s most profitable railway operator and has its headquarters right above Nagoya Station!
SCMaglev and Railway Park (リニア・鉄道館)
Address: 3-2-2 Kinjofuto, Minato-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 455-0848
Nearest station: Kinjofuto Station (金城ふ頭駅)
Opening hours: 10:00–17:30 (Last entry: 17:00) (Closed on Tuesdays)
Admission fee: ¥1,000 (Adults), ¥500 (Elementary/Junior High/High school students), ¥300 (Children aged 3 and above)
Tel: +81 52-389-6100
6. Nagoya cuisine
A bowl of piping hot Miso-nikomi-kishimen (味噌煮込みきしめん) made with Nagoya’s signature Hatcho Miso and Kishimen. (Image credit: Jodie Sun)
Sandwiched between Tokyo and Osaka, Nagoya’s cuisine has little chance to shine outside of Japan. However, the city’s signature dishes such as toothsome kishimen (きしめん) noodles and tebasaki (手羽先 chicken wings) will definitely leave you dreaming of more!
Nagoya is also known for its hatcho miso (八丁味噌), a thick, dark and sweetish miso paste that makes an appearance in the famous miso katsu (味噌カツ), or crispy fried breaded pork cutlets with delicious Hatcho Miso sauce.
7. Atsuta Shrine
Inside Atsuta Shrine. (Image credit: the.Firebottle)
Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮 Atsuta-jingu) is one of the most important shrines in Shinto (神道), the main religion in Japan. The shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu (天照大神), the Sun Goddess, who is considered the ancestor of all Japanese people, and is also said to be home to Kusanagi-no-tsurugi (草薙の剣), a sacred sword that is one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan.
The shrine grounds have a serene yet majestic vibe that serves as an peaceful oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and are surrounded by greenery. If you do happen to be in the area in early June, do also check out the shrine festival, Atsuta Festival (熱田祭り Atsuta Matsuri)!
Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮)
Address: 1-1-1, Jingu, Atsuta-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 456-8585
Nearest station: Atsuta Station (熱田駅)
Opening hours (Treasure Hall): 09:00–16:30 (last entry 16:00)
Admission fee (Treasure Hall): ¥300 (Adults); ¥150 (Elementary and junior high school students)
8. Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
A whale greets aquarium visitors. (Image credit: きうこ)
The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium (名古屋港水族館 Nagoya-ko Suizokukan) is one of the top 10 aquariums in Japan, and is known for its adorable marine mammals that are sure to put a smile on your face with their antics. Don’t miss feeding time—catch cute critters such as turtles and penguins munching on their favourite treats, while orca, beluga, and seal training and performances are open to the public!
Given its location at the Port of Nagoya, Japan’s busiest port, the aquarium is surrounded by several other attractions. If you have time, why not visit the Observation Lounge, Maritime Museum, or the Fuji Antarctic Museum? You can also get up close to the Fuji Icebreaker, one of the exploratory ships that was used for Antarctic research which is now permanently docked in the harbour.
Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium (名古屋港水族館)
Address: 1-3 Minatomachi, Minato-ku, Nagoya, Aichi, 455-0033
Nearest station: Nagoyakō Station (名古屋港駅)
Opening hours: Opening hours vary, please check website for details
Admission fee: Ticket prices vary depending on age and package, please check website for details
9. Chubu Electric Power MIRAI TOWER
The Chubu Electric Power MIRAI TOWER. (Image credit: Photock)
Head up Chubu Electric Power MIRAI TOWER (中部電力 MIRAI TOWER Chubu-Denryoku MIRAI TOWER) for a bird’s eye view of the entire city. Believe it or not, this well-known Nagoya landmark was built before its more famous cousin, Tokyo Tower (東京タワー), and is actually the oldest such tower in Japan!
In fact, this was the exact tower featured in the Godzilla movies that got torn down once by Godzilla, and then flattened again by Battra! The landmark is illuminated at night, and is an iconic feature of Nagoya’s skyline.
Chubu Electric Power MIRAI TOWER (中部電力 MIRAI TOWER)
Address: 3-6-15 Nishiki, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi, 460-0003
Nearest station: Hisaya-odori Station (久屋大通駅)
Opening hours: 10:00–21:00 (Weekdays & Sundays), 10:00–21:40 (Saturdays)
Admission fee: ¥900 (Adults), ¥400 (Elementary/Junior High/High school students)
Tel: +81 52-971-8546
10. Nagoya City Science Museum
The eye-catching exterior of Nagoya City Science Museum. (Image credit: Photock)
Indulge your inner geek with the tornado and freezing labs! The Nagoya City Science Museum (名古屋市科学館 Nagoya-shi Kagakukan) boasts the largest planetarium in the world in addition to a wide variety of science exhibits. A great way to spend a rainy day in Nagoya, the Science Museum is a must-visit for kids and science buffs alike.
The museum also has exhibits on science and technology in the Chubu Region (中部地方 Chubu chihō), a nod to its strong science and industrial background.
Nagoya City Science Museum (名古屋市科学館)
Address: 2-17-1 Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi, 460-0008
Nearest station: Fushimi Station (伏見駅）
Opening hours: 09:30–17:00
Admission fee (Exhibition only): ¥400 (Adults), ¥200 (College/High school students), Free (Junior high school students and younger)
Admission fee (Exhibition & Planetarium): ¥800 (Adults), ¥500 (College/High school students), Free (Junior high school students and younger)
From its origins as a castle town to a sprawling metropolis that birthed some of Japan’s greatest, Nagoya has played a key role in shaping Japan as it is today. Yet, the down-to-earth city remains a firm favourite with travellers for its unpretentious vibe, hearty cuisine and last but not least, proximity to the majestic Japanese Alps.
Header image credit: Jodie Sun
Writer's profile: Jodie is a trilingual freelancer who's constantly on the lookout for interesting projects. She spent 5 years in Japan for university and counts exploring the quaint alleys of Kyoto as some of her best memories ever. When not at work, cooking or crafting, she likes to sit back and watch the world go by.