When I arrived at Nagoya, everything and everyone around me was as busy as a bee. As soon as I stepped my foot in Nagoya Station, I couldn’t move because there were so many sarariiman (salary man / businessmen) walking around. I had thought that since Nagoya is in a different prefecture from Tokyo it would feel different, but it is still very modern. I mean, above Nagoya Station is a high rise building! One of my Japanese friends told me that Nagoya Station is just like the super busy Tokyo Station and I think it is so true.
Nagoya is famous for…
Nagoya is known for a few things: Nagoya Castle, miso-based food, hitsumabushi (eel) and the Chuunichi Dragons, a baseball team whose home base in at the Nagoya Dome. These are the most common things that people know about Nagoya. However after I being there, I realized that Nagoya is so much more than just those things.
Behind the skyscrapers are so many beautiful traditions of which are kept beautifully. I think that is the beauty of Japan. There is this balance between modern and the past.
How did I get to Nagoya:
I got to Nagoya via the shinkansen, Nozomi to be exact. It is the fastest train to reach Nagoya from Tokyo Station. It took me 1 hour and 42 minutes and I must say it was a great ride. The train was running smoothly, even the scenery along the way was beautiful. My seat was on 12E and I think it was the best seat. The D and E seats had the best view of Mt. Fuji when heading to Nagoya. There was even a konsento (a wall socket) on the train. So, no worries if your phone or camera’s battery is running out, just make sure you get the E seat and you can charge it for free!
The easiest way to book a Shinkansen ticket is through Midori Mado Guchi, in a train station if you are in Japan. It is the easiest for me because I hate paying with credit cards and I can make a request for my seat. Midori Mado Guchi is a place to book train tickets and even for tourist information space. If you are from abroad, I’m afraid to say that I have never tried buying train tickets online. However, I do know that JR Company provides an online ticket service. You will get tickets for a cheaper price if you book faster.
Getting information about Nagoya
These days, surfing the Internet can be considered as the best way to find information for travelling advice. But although I know how convenient the Internet is, but I am a true book lover. I feel more complete if I can actually hold a book rather than reading a novel in a digital way. So, I bought a Japanese travel magazine called まっぷる(Mappuru). There are some other magazines as well but that I thought まっぷる was the best one. I actually found so many good pieces of information about restaurants, sightseeing places and even hotel lists. The best part is, the magazine provides a very comprehensive map of Nagoya. Every area is very detailed.
Every time I go travelling, I really love staying in a place not too far from a station. Why? Because I have better access if I want to go to other places and the station area is usually full with good shops and restaurants. Take Shinjuku Station for example, you can find almost anything just by walking a bit from the station’s exit. It goes the same way with Nagoya Station. >_<
There are 2 main exits in the station and my favorite is the Sakura-doori exit. This exit is just like Doraemon’s magic door, hahaha! You can find many beautiful skyscrapers and many department stores. I like this exit not just because of the shopping part, but also the environment. It is brighter and there are more people passing by. My hotel was actually around 5 minutes walk from the Sakura-doori exit.
The hotel I was staying was called Mont Blanc Eki Mae Hotel. I think this hotel is a very clean business hotel and located in a very convenient place. Next to the hotel is Doutor Café and Sun Kus. At night I wasn’t afraid to walk back to my hotel because the hotel’s entrance was very bright. I saw many young women travelling alone and stayed in this hotel. Some tour groups also stayed there so it wasn’t a haunted hotel or something like that.
If you’re interested in staying in the same hotel, here are some of the pros and cons about it that you may like to consider:
- Clean room, clean bed sheets, clean bathroom.
- Free tea bag and boiling water machine is also provided.
- Hair Dryer is provided, basic bathing kit and towels too.
- The payment can be done on the day you check in.
- Special package available for fast booking (meaning : cheaper price)
- Compared to other hotels near the station from Sakura Doori exit, this hotel has the most reasonable price with all the facilities I got. (my opinion)
- I think the wall is a bit thin because at night I could hear my neighbors chatting in a loud voice.
- The first time I stepped into my room I could smell a cigarette even though I had requested a non-smoking room.
The fact that the room was not spacious, I can’t complain about it. That’s why it is a business hotel, not a resort! hahahaha. Most Japanese business hotels have a “just-right” room space. Not too big, but still have enough space for us to move.
And being a girl, travelling alone, I made sure I would stay in a safe environment that fits my standards. I can be a bit paranoid sometimes but I think it is good because I care for my safety. You should do the same thing too if you consider yourself to be adventurous!
Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell where I booked my hotel. I used this site! It’s my first time using it and I think it is not that bad. オススメ! (^0^)
There are still so many great places in Nagoya, but these are some of the places that I visited in my 2 nights stay and my “osusume / オスス”メ (recommended) places for now. Who knows? I will be back to Nagoya again and explore more!
It was the early sakura season when I visited Nagoya Castle. The sakura tress were all over the beautiful architecture and this is a must visit spot. Unfortunately, it was being renovated when I came there so I could only walk around the parks and The Donjon part of the castle. You could go up the building until the 7th floor and there is beautiful scenery waiting up there.
You should get some souvenirs to prove that you have visited it.
I had my own customized pendants with Nagoya Castle logo on it. I even put my name and the date I visited. The price was okay (a bit expensive), but I feel like I have an original item from the historical site ^0^
FYI, some parts of this castle were destroyed by fire on WWII but, luckily, some parts were saved. It has been in reconstruction and I believe when the renovation is done this year you can see a complete look of it. Don’t forget to take pictures with the golden dolphin of the castle called Kinshachi. You can even ride on it!!!! It is some kind of decoration on the roof of the castle and I believe it is being considered like the Mona Lisa, a masterpiece.
Nagoya Station’s area
I think you will need a whole day to just enjoy this Nagoya Station area. There is so much great architecture, many shops and delicious restaurants to visit. You can almost find anything from branded stores to local souvenirs. If you forget to buy some gifts for your family or friends, you can surely just grab some from the station area.
The first thing that I did was to take pictures with my lovely camera. When the sun shines bright, take beautiful shots of theモード学園スパイラルタワーズ (Mode Gakuen Spiral Tower). This building the most stylish one compared to others like the Cocoon Tower in Shinjuku, Tokyo. When I saw each of Mode Gakuen’s buildings I am always amazed how the architects built them.
Oh yes! When you walked out of Nagoya station through Sakura Doori exit you really should look up. You will see two giant towers above the station and that’s the JR セントラルタワーズ (JR Central Towers). This landmark is very popular so don’t miss it!!
One more thing, you really should try to find this girl who is very famous in Nagoya. Her name is Nana-chan. She is very fashionable and has a lot of clothes. Do you want to know the reason why she is so popular? She is a 6m tall mannequin!! Hahahahaha. At the time I went to Nagoya, Dragon Ball’s movie had just been released so she dressed up as Son Goku !! Just meet her near Meietsu Department Store. She is very easy to find!
Other than snapping some pictures, I love getting lost in Eki Chika (meaning: the station’s basement). Yes, it sounds weird, but under Nagoya station there are 5 connected shopping areas. You will find so many things. Eat a lot and shop a lot, please! You will see so many people under there because the malls are just near the subway’s entrance and exit. To guide you guys a little bit, my favorite mall among the 5 is called エスカ(Esca). You will find Nagoya’s delicious restaurants there or even Nagoya original items. Like I said before, if you have short time to shop, just drop by to Esca and shop some goodies and eat the famous Nagoya’s food. They are all gathered here so you will have a lot of choices.
Oh my god! I seriously don’t know where to start explaining about this area. I LOVE OSU VERY MUCH!! This area is the perfect place for the young, funky and vintage-loving people. First of all I have to say you will not find huge department stores here, or luxurious branded stuff, but you will find a maze of shopping streets. In Japanese language, this kind of shopping street is called a 商店街(syoutengai)
I started my journey from the Osu Kannon Temple. Every traveling site will surely recommend tourist to go here. I think it is a great idea to snap some pictures in the temple first before the shopping starts, hahahaha. Okay, it’s a joke, but the temple really is beautiful in red. In this Buddhist temple you can also feed the pigeons. There are lots of them and once you spread the birds food they will come right away to you !!
Just next to Osu Kannon Temple, you can directly see the shopping streets.
Let the SHOPPING fun begins!
In order to get myself ready for a shopping spree, I stopped at a karaage food stand. Karaage is a Japanese fried chicken and the shop that I went to really served a delicious one! Do you know what is the best drink for a karaage in Osu? TAPIOCA DRINK!!
At first, I thought Osu was filled with the usual traditional shopping streets where you could find old toy stores, classic Japanese souvenirs and traditional snacks. I was super-duper wrong! I found this magnet of Osu that even made me went back again to the same places on my last day of the 2 nights trip. The magic words are vintage stores!
Vintage Clothing Shops in Osu
Well, fashion lovers, I know you can’t resist amazing vintage clothing shops, right? Because I was seriously blinded by those 60’s 70’s and 20’s fashion items. Those colorful patterns, eternal style from the past, I am sure you will find it very entertaining just by looking. I was really focused on these stores so I will give you the best vintage stores list, made especially by me based on my experience visiting them.
Let me remind you to be very patient and try to enjoy finding the stores, because most of them are hidden in small streets. When you look on your left or right and you see a store that sparks your interest, go for it and give it a look. There might be hidden treasures there!!
- JyuJyu& PiPin
- Saboten (just next to Buzz)
The price was much cheaper than vintage stores in Tokyo, I think. It started around 2000Yen and if you have good eyes, you can get so many amazing piece that fit your budget.
Sakae Night trip
Now, let’s take a break from the spending money activity! Sakae is considered as one of the main shopping districts in Nagoya, but I feel it will be boring if we just go shopping, shopping and shopping. How about trying something more relaxing and romantic, perhaps? I present to you, the Nagoya TV Tower and Oasis 21 at night.
Visiting these two spots at night offers you a totally different experience. Imagine the dark night sky with mesmerizing lights all over the city. I have to say these two places are super great for a date (even place to propose your loved one)! UWAAAA~!
Nagoya TV Tower is not as tall as Tokyo Sky Tree, but you can see the best Nagoya night view at a good price from here. The ticket will cost you 600 Yen and it is open until around 21:40. There are two parts, the Sky Deck and Sky Balcony.
You should go to both areas. In the Sky Deck, there are some sofas and simple bar chair with tall tables for two. Vending machines are also available so you can sit back and relax. If you go up to the Sky Balcony, you will have a clearer view, complete with the night sky and the stars. This is definitely a spot that shouldn’t be missed! However, for people who are afraid of heights, you can just sit under the tower. There are plenty of outdoor tables with chairs and you can bring your own food. I never knew how it feels to sit under the Eiffel Tower, but I think enjoying the night under Nagoya TV Tower is good enough for me.
Just across the tower you can see an oval shaped landscape made of glass that changes color every few minutes. This is the Oasis 21. It is actually a terrace build above ground level and there is even water in it. Under the glass is shopping and restaurant area. It feels like a roof, but the best part is you can walk on it. There are elevators and stairs to go up there. You can feel the night wind while sitting on a little bench. The Nagoya TV Tower even looks more beautiful.
Baseball fans!!! Don’t forget to spare your time visiting the home of the Dragons! The day I went to Nagoya Dome, there was a match between Chuunichi Dragons and Chiba Rakuten. Even though I’m a Giants fan, I still love seeing the atmosphere of a Japanese baseball match no matter which teams are playing. Try spending few minutes just watching the people who are heading to the dome. Little boy with his father, a group of young guys and girls, they all dress up according to their favorite teams. You can feel their excitement and I always love the way it feels. The goodies of each team are very unique too. Stop by to the stores and I am sure you can find fun paraphernalia that you can use to cheer on your favorite team. There is even an original snack with the team mascot’s face on it. The Dragons mascot is called Doara ( I think it is a mix of Dragon and Koala, hahahaha) and I bought a Doara Castella. It was sweet and delicious!! ^0^
Nagoya is commonly popular with Miso based food. Miso is a red bean paste and surely it will give a sweet taste sensation. However, there was a lot, I didn’t have enough space in my stomach. Here are the 3 original food items that I had tried and I will write some more for you to try when you have a chance visiting Nagoya ^0^
What I had:
This meal is probably the most expensive meal I have ever eaten in Japan as a university student. Yet, it was also the best Eel I have ever tasted!! This meal is basically a combination of Eel and rice, but there are 3 different ways to eat it. First, you will have to divide the rice in the bowl into 4 sections. Get the first part and eat it the way it is. Second, try eating it with negi (green onion) or wasabi. Third, you can try adding ocha (tea) into the bowl and it tastes really good. So, pick the best way to taste this Hitsumabushi!
I know all of you guys love Katsu. Deep-fried yummy!!! Usually, there is a special katsu sauce, but it is surely not sweet! I recommend you to have the katsu with the cabbage they served together because there is a chance you can feel a bit numb if you eat only the katsu. There is this great restaurant in Nagoya and it is very easy to find. Search for a pig called Bu-Chan! (restaurant name : 矢場とん – Yabaton) You won’t regret it !!
Still a Miso based meal, this time the miso will be the soup of Udon meal, a kind of Japanese noodle. What makes this meal different from the usual udon is that there are more items inside the bowl. With eggs, a lot of vegetables and meat, you will surely feel full and warm after this meal. It’s the best food for the winter season. But since the bowl is super-hot, make sure to eat it on the lid of the bowl.
Good restaurant : 山本屋
- Tebasaki ( Nagoya’s original chicken wing)
- Kishimen (Nagoya’s flat udon)
Do you know that Nagoya has a special breakfast?
Usually in the mornings, cafés in Nagoya serve a large amount of bread. They even serve it buffet-style for breakfast. However, I got something much better. I recommend this Pressed Sandwich. Your sandwich will be very crispy and there are many types of fillings for it—everything from vegetables to peanut sauce. Have it with a cup of coffee or tea! Super delicious. Stop by at モーニング喫茶リヨン -(read : moningu kissa rayon)
Hopefully you guys enjoyed our lengthy photo stroll entry for Nagoya! Thank you DoitsuPanda (Leen) for this very comprehensive travel guide entry.