Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Leading science and art museums, a lively food scene and pops of nature make this city well worth a visit.
Japan’s fourth largest city and capital of Aichi Prefecture is an industrial powerhouse and hub for manufacturing—most notably cars but also shipping, aviation and ceramics. This image has led to Nagoya being somewhat overlooked by tourists, but things have been changing.
Nagoya has been reinventing itself as a centre for science and technology as well as arts and craftsmanship. Visit2Japan checked out what the city has to offer as a weekend break. Here’s what we found.
Nagoya City Science Museum
This facility is a well-known landmark thanks to its spherical shaped planetarium, the world’s biggest at 35 metres in diameter. It features exhibitions, displays and hands-on activities, including a -30-degree room where you can see images of auroras while experiencing how the body reacts to frigid temperatures.
The museum has a fairly good English language website displaying the opening times, costs for admission and current temporary exhibitions. However, you may find a lack of English on some exhibits. Still, we found the staff were more than happy to try and explain things in English when asked.
Exhibits about the building are part of the attraction. Find out about the photovoltaic power generation equipment that powers the museum, the environmentally friendly green wall of moss and the earthquake-proof structure.
Beside the museum is the lovely Shirakawa Park. Its pops of green, magnificent water fountains and various sculptures create a tranquil space in the heart of the city. It’s a nice place simply to sit or take a break.
Nagoya City Art Museum
In the south-eastern corner of the park lies Nagoya City Art Museum, which opened in 1988 to boost cultural offerings in the city. It’s hard to miss because of the architectural structure consisting of posts, beams and walls that sits in front of it as a symbolic gate.
The museum has permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, each showcasing national and international art works in both modern and contemporary styles. There is also an auditorium, a library, a shop and a café.
Located in Nagoya’s popular entertainment district, Sakae, this hotel has all the amenities you would expect of a Hilton with the added benefit of being in the heart of the city.
We recommend booking an executive room, which gives you access to the executive lounge offering a great selection of complimentary snacks and drinks as well as spectacular views.
Nagoya offers all the culinary variety you would expect from a cosmopolitan city. If you’re not sure what you want to eat, head to Sakae where you will find every cuisine you can imagine and prices to suit all budgets. Whether you are looking for an intimate wine bar or a buzzing eatery, you will find it here.
English-speaking staff or English menus may not be on offer at many of the smaller bars and restaurants, but the majority will try to help you and make you feel welcome.
If the language barrier is becoming too tiring or you simply want to relax over a drink with fellow English speakers, drop into The Rock Aussie Sports Bar & Grill where you will find friendly staff and customers happy to chat.
Osu Kannon Temple
Although officially called Kitanosan Shinpuku-ji Hosho-in, this Buddhist temple is popularly known as Osu Kannon. It was founded in the 14th century in Gifu Prefecture and relocated to its current site by Tokugawa Ieyasu, known as one of the three “great unifiers” of Japan.
Take a stroll around the grounds to experience the best of the temple’s vibrant colours and sounds. There is plenty of information about the temple in English, so you can get an understanding of the role it played in the history of Aichi Prefecture.
A flea market is held on the 18th and 28th of each month, which draws large crowds.
Osu shopping district
Often compared to Nagoya’s version of Tokyo’s Akihabara, this area is a mecca for gamers. But Osu is not only for tech-minded visitors; there are shops selling clothing, antiques, gifts and much more. It’s a paradise for those hoping to pick up bargains.
At the crossroads of Niomon Dori and Shintenchi Dori is a large white maneki-neko beckoning cat that is a popular meeting and event space.
Time for lunch
Osu has long been known for its vast array of international cuisine, from upmarket European eateries to street food you would expect to find on the beaches of Brazil or in a Middle Eastern bazaar. The area draws a diverse crowd of diners, most of whom are young and trendy, which creates a lively atmosphere.
One recommendation is to stop by the long-running Osso Brasil, a no-frills restaurant offering Brazilian cuisine based on the roast chickens cooked in the on-site rotisserie. Dishes can be shared with friends while sitting outside watching the various sights on this bustling street.
Hisaya Odori Park
This park is an oasis where loungers and sun shelters can be rented by the hour. It’s an ideal place to unwind or take a gentle walk. There are a number of cafes, bars and shops, and you can even play table tennis.
Plenty to offer
With easy access by bus, train and plane from all major areas of Japan, Nagoya is a convenient destination. The city’s main attractions can be easily navigated on foot or by subway, and they certainly don’t disappoint if you’re looking for a destination full of exhibitions, culture and fun.
Find out more
For more details, check out Nagoya Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Nagoya City Guide.