The centrally located city of Nagoya has a long history and a deep culture that is often overlooked by the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world. There’s a joke that goes “All travelers within Japan go to Nagoya! The bullet train stops there for a whole two minutes on its run between Tokyo and Osaka!” Despite the put down, the capital of Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, is indeed seen by many as a conservative, nondescript city, however locals will tell you of its many benefits. One hour forty minutes from Tokyo by bullet train, less than an hour from Kyoto and Osaka, a major commercial hub that remains close to nature. Nagoya is one of Japan’s most important economic centers.
Nagoya has many claims to fame. Many civil war-period daimyo and other famous samurai were born in and around Nagoya. Nagoya Castle’s keep is the biggest of all Japanese castles, and has the most “haafu”, or triangular eves of any castle. Nagoya is home to the second most venerated Shinto Shrine in Japan, Atsuta Jingu, second only to the Great Shrine of Ise. Nagoya was the birthplace of the Japanese national past time of passive gambling, Pachinko. Nagoya’s 158m tall TV broadcast tower was the first of such towers across all major cities, and Nagoya’s CBC Radio was the nation's first commercial radio broadcaster. Nagoya Station is listed as the world’s largest railway station space-wise.
Nagoya Port handles the most international cargo of any port in Japan, and its international airport, Centerair, located 40 minutes drive south of the city was once voted among the world’s top three best designed, easily accessed and convenient airports.
Nagoya’s Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of Asia’s biggest zoos too! Two of the greatest samurai battles, Okehazama and Nagakute, were both fought within the current city confines, and the city, with its surrounding Aichi Prefecture was host to the 2005 World EXPO.
Japan’s third largest city by size and fourth by population, Nagoya is an industrial city, and home to many world-renowned companies including Toyota Motor Corporation, Brother Industries and Noritake Fine China. Having long been a commercial and industrial center meant that Nagoya was heavily targeted and the city was destroyed by allied bombing in World War Two. For that reason, few historical buildings remain, however the city was able to rebuild itself in an easy to navigate and understand grid like pattern with long straight, wide streets and plentiful parklands. Public transport is plentiful and most efficient, and the attractions Nagoya has to offer, such as the Maglev and Train Museum, Toyota Automobile Museum, and the magnificent Tokugawa Art Museum housing the treasures of the prominent Tokugawa family who ruled Nagoya, and the nation with an iron—or in the case of many of the treasures—a golden fist!
Don’t believe any underhyped accounts you may find – Nagoya is an exciting, vibrant city with a long history and a deep culture. Its been kept a secret for some time, but now the cat is out of the bag, we expect to see you here soon!