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Strategically placed on what was centuries ago the vital Tokaido Road, Nagoya became an important resting stop on the long and arduous journey between Kyoto and Tokyo. As this village way-station grew, so did the significance of its great landmarks, Atsuta Shrine, and Nagoya Castle. With the completion of the magnificent castle in the early 1600’s, development began to sprout up around the imposing fortress and soon, Nagoya found itself stepping out of the shadows of its two bigger sister cities. And as Nagoya prospered, it became a destination in itself with business, industry and transport becoming the driving force for growth and development.
While Nagoya may be Japan’s fourth most populous city, its landmark castle and placid shrines and temples serve as a reminder of the city’s great past, where ancient traditions and imperial customs can still be felt. Don’t be fooled by Nagoya’s industrial background either. This may be a city with a huge manufacturing base, but Nagoya offers up a thriving shopping, arts and culture scene too. Some of Japan’s most acclaimed museums can be found here and there are immense galleries devoted to everything from art, history and ancient Japanese armour to science, nature, technology, cars and trains. There is even an extensive aquarium found near the bustling Port of Nagoya.
Today, Nagoya is one of Japan’s most important economic centres. Located on Japan’s Pacific Coast and benefiting from a large natural harbour, Nagoya has become one of the world’s leading auto manufacturing centres, supplying cars to much of the world market. With its central location, Nagoya has also become a leading air and rail hub. Situated on the Tokaido Shinkansen route, Nagoya is less than a two hour train ride to Tokyo. Travelling west, Kyoto can be reached in as little as 40 minutes while Osaka is just one hour away.
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Nagoya is a large metropolitan area covering over three hundred square miles. Made up of 16 individual wards, the city’s main shopping, cultural and tourist areas can be found in Sakae, close to and just to the east of Nagoya Station.
Nagoya Station is one of the world’s largest train stations and is easily recognised from a distance by its two distinct glass towers, both of which rise over 50 floors in the air. A central city stop and transfer location, Nagoya Station is just minutes from the Sakae District where many of the city’s major hotels and shopping areas can be found. From souvenir shops to the city’s largest department stores, Sakae features an endless array of retail outlets and restaurants, along with some of Nagoya’s hippest and most popular nightclubs.
Arguably Nagoya’s most significant historic site, Nagoya Castle became the city’s defining landmark after it was built in the early 1600’s. Having suffered great damage during the Second World War, the castle was completely restored in 1959. The castle itself sits imperiously on a large stone base and is bordered by a peaceful moat on two sides. Lovely turrets are placed along several corners of the fortress creating a picturesque view from any area of the park like grounds. In the spring and summer visitors will find lovely gardens filled with everything from cherry blossoms to roses, irises and many other colourful floral species.
Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
You don’t have to be interested in cars to enjoy this fascinating museum. Toyota got its start in the mid 1920’s and grew from a loom and textile machinery maker to the world’s largest auto manufacturer. The museum prides itself on offering a fascinating interactive experience as it takes visitors on an enjoyable and easy to understand journey which covers the history of “making things.” Jump in the wind tunnel as you learn about airflow and resistance before taking a few laps on the techno circuit with its miniature cars.
Osu Shopping Street
Located in Nagoya’s Old Town near Sakae, Osu Shopping Street features everything from quality second-hand goods to quirky souvenirs and traditional Japanese crafts. A popular venue for funky clothing and electronics, Osu also offers a great mix of restaurant and food outlets.
SCmaglev and Railway Park
This all-encompassing train and railway museum is unlike any exhibition facility in the world. This enormous building and gallery space features close to 40 full size railway cars, locomotives and passenger carriages ranging from the latest high-speed Shinkansen to vintage cars and rail vehicles. Opened in 2011, the ultra-modern museum is one of Nagoya’s most popular attractions, having reached one million visitors in its first 9 months of operation. The museum also looks at how the railway has impacted the world’s economy and lifestyle through fascinating exhibits and video.
As a major business and holiday destination, Nagoya offers a wide range of accommodation choices. From international luxury hotel brands to student hostels, capsule hotels and every price range and style in between, your stay in Nagoya can be as value oriented or as up market as you choose to go.
Budget and mid-range hotels can be found throughout the city while the internationally branded luxury hotels are located mostly in the city centre near Sakae. Most hotels are located within a short distance of major train stations. While the international airport is located approximately 32 kilometres southwest of the city, there is convenient rail, taxi and bus service to the city.