The Toyota and Honda factories are the not the only reason millions of travelers flock to Nagoya each year. Nagoya is Japan's fourth-largest city and is teeming with rich history, futuristic modern architecture, varieties of global and local cuisine, and a fast-paced nightlife.
Nagoya's city center Sakae is full of bright lights, great shopping centers, and pubs, bars, and restaurants without the crowds of Tokyo and Osaka.
Don't miss the oldest castle in Japan, Inuyama, which stands tall and is open for visitors to tour, as well as the nearby Meiji village.
From deep-fried, peppered chicken wings to battered pork cutlet served with red miso and round after round of delicious sake, you can literally eat your way through this city and skip the fine dining.
Nagashima Spa Land is actually a thronging amusement park with the world's longest roller coaster, the Steel Dragon 2000.
Home to vintage clothing boutiques, manga and second-hand record stores, and flea markets, the Osu District will keep you occupied for days.
The famous and revered Atsuta Shrine houses the Sun Goddess Amaterasu in addition to the holy sword Kusanigi. This sword is one of three historic imperial regalia that celebrate and legitimize the Japanese Emperor. In other words, this shrine is one of the most sacred spaces in all of Shinto. Whether or not this ancient religion peaks your interest, the shrine is a pleasant place to be, as it stands in a peaceful wooded park and boasts Shinmei-zukuri architectural features.
When this castle was built by the Tokugawa shoguns, it was one of the biggest in the country. Today, it still is, and the town that grew up around it has developed into Nagoya. While some castles give the impression of being pleasure retreats rather than forts, this imposing structure towers over the landscape with one end in mind: defense. A series of two moats and giant walls continue to strike fear and wonder into the hearts of visitors, even those who have no interest in conquering Nagoya. Yet if you visit in April, you may be more taken by the blossoming cherry trees at the castle's base than with the building itself.
The grounds of this botanical garden, zoo, and amusement park have housed eager visitors since 1937. Now one of Asia's biggest attractions, the sprawling complex houses creatures like bears, elephants, tigers, and tropical fish, in addition to rare and beautiful Japanese trees, bushes, and flowers. The botanical gardens also have a greenhouse with tropical plants and an insect hall with all sorts of 6-legged crawlers. The iconic Higashiyama Sky Tower, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city, has massive observation decks and a restaurant that towers over 300 feet above the ground.
In addition to having the world's largest planetarium, the Nagoya City Science Museum has a huge range of attractions and exhibits that teach visitors of all ages about the wonders of water, tornadoes, electricity, and more. There's no better way to learn about the many different environments and conditions present on and below earth's surface than the hands-on opportunities offered at the Nagoya Science Center.
Faithful Buddhists have flocked to Ōsu Kannon for over 800 years to pay their respects to deities such as Kannon, the goddess of mercy, whose wooden statue is the centerpiece of the interior. Inside the temple, you'll find the Shinpukuji Library, with its collection of more than 15,000 classic Japanese and Chinese Buddhist texts. The temple is also important for housing the oldest extant copy of the Kojiki, a historic tome detailing Japan's early history starting from its mythological origins. On the 18th and 28th of each month, the temple hosts a flea market with a wide assortment of goods for locals and visitors alike.
Nagoya enjoys steaming hot summers and mild falls and winters. It gets as low as 39.2 degrees in January and gets as high as 95 degrees in August.
Nagoya is serviced by Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) which is 30 minutes away from the city's center. Take the μSKY train service, which costs ¥1200.
Getting in by train, travelers use the high-speed shinkansen service. Depending on where you're coming from (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto), tickets cost between ¥6,180 and ¥10,780.
Driving from Tokyo to Nagoya, you can take the Chuo Expressway or the Tomei. Chou Expressway is the more scenic route. The Tomei is a straighter route and though it has more traffic, you can catch views of Mount Fuji on a clear day.
Overnight buses to Nagoya, run by Willer Express, come from many neighboring cities. Tickets cost between ¥3,000-5,300 and can be booked online.
For no-frills, budget accommodation, check out Kyoya Ryokan hostel. Or check in to the Mielparque Nagoya, for continental service. Luxury lovers can find the perfect suite at Nagoya Kanko Hotel.
Osu - the Osu District is the home to many festivals, Brazilian and Filipino eateries and communities, as well as the self-proclaimed nerds and geeks of manga culture.
Sakae - at the heart of Nagoya is its commercial district, Sakae. It attracts many tourists as the first stop for shopping, pubs, and nightlife spots.
Chikusa-ku - this neighborhood draws those who are spiritually inclined, home to the Tōgan-ji temple and its "Great Buddha of Nagoya" statue.
Between the bus, rail, and subway, Nagoya is well connected. Tickets cost between ¥200 to ¥320, and a one-day pass is ¥850 for both bus and subway.
Fares for taxis start at a basic fee of ¥480 and ¥725 per mile after that.
Use services like JR Eki Rent-A-Car or Nippon Rent-A-Car to get around Nagoya for ¥7,668 a day.
The Osu Shopping Arcade is a great place to begin as it has dozens of vintage, independent, mom-and-pop shops, traditional craft markets, and second-hand electronic stores, and bookstores. Or check out the Oasis 21 mall in Sakae.
A quart of milk costs ¥207 and a dozen eggs is ¥354.
You're definitely not pressed for choice: Nagoya's best eats are everywhere. Try handmade udon noodles in thick broth at Yamamotoya Sōhonke for ¥1200 or some Tex-Mex fun at Desperados Mexican Restaurant and Bar for around ¥1,100.