Photo:kinpi3 on Flickr

Exploring Japan’s 4th largest city: Nagoya

When tourists plan on coming to Japan, they are most likely to spend the majority of their time in either the Tokyo or Kyoto surroundings. There is nothing wrong with that, for those are some of the greatest cities in the world. However, right in the center of Japan, and in between Tokyo and Kyoto, lies one of the biggest, yet overlooked cities in Japan: Nagoya. Nagoya isn’t always recognized as a household name when it comes to the must see places in Japan. However, based off my experience living in this great city, there’s plenty to explore, delicious food to be had, and a lot of rich history to catch up on.

Nagoya Castle

Nagoya castle, built in 1612 by the Owari leader Tokugawa Ieyasu, is known for its lovely cherry blossoms during the Spring, the beautiful green scenery that surrounds the castle itself, and for the Kinsachi (golden dolphins) that is known all throughout Japan. Although the castle was burned down in 1945 during the war, it was miraculously rebuilt in 1959 without losing any of its rich character along the way.

Photo : comet08 on Flickr

How to get there:
Subway: take the Meijo Line and get off at Shiyakusho City Hall Station.
By bus: take the city bus and get off at the Shiakusho city hall bus stop.

Best time to go:
During the Spring when the cherry blossoms are still out would be the best time to go. However, due to the natural beauty of the castle and its surroundings, it is a popular attraction year wide.


Perhaps one of the most popular spots in Nagoya are the Osu markets. Right next to a large and famous temple, Osu provides a great blend of traditional and trendy shopping. Being one of Japan’s largest markets, there’s a selection of everything from souvenirs, fashionable clothes, food stands, ancient japanese items, electronics, second hand stores, and even a stage where performers often showcase their talent. Try the famously delicious karage (Japanese fried chicken), buy some of the most unique socks you’ll ever see, try your luck at a bebe-gun game stand, or venture over to the temple for a nice peaceful moment. Regardless of what you buy, eat, or do, Osu has something to offer for everyone.

Photo : Kojach on Flickr

How to get there:
Take the Higashiyama line from Nagoya station to Osu-Kannon station. From there, it is a quick 2 minute walk.

Best time to go:
Osu is open year round and is not restricted to any seasons. Although it is more crowded on the weekends, any time during the year is a good time to go!


When it comes to food, drinks, shopping, and a good nightlife in Nagoya, Sakae is your place to be. Simply walking through it provides an adventure. While you’re here, try a Nagoya specialty: miso katsu. It is similar to regular katsu (fried pork cutlet), but with a unique miso sauce that is exclusive to Nagoya. Sakae is also home to many different types of bars that are tourist friendly, cheap, and filled with Japanese folks having a good time. Regardless of where you go in Sakae, good food and drinks will always be there to accompany you.

Photo : David Pursehouse on Flickr

How to get there:
Take the Higashiyama line from Nagoya station to Sakae station. It is a very quick train ride. You can also walk from Nagoya station to Sakae, which would take around 25 minutes.

Best time to go:
Friday and Saturday nights would be ideal, as the city is lively and there is a great atmosphere everywhere you go. However, due to the vast amount of good places to eat, simply going for lunch or dinner would more than satisfy a hungry appetite.

Nabana no sato at Andes Flower Garden

During the winter in Japan, you’ll often hear the word “illumination” thrown around. It’s essentially a fancy term the Japanese people give for Christmas lights. Nabana no sato at Andes Flower Garden, just outside of Nagoya, might be the best display of illumination in all of Japan. Whether you go there on a date, to take pictures, or even just to enjoy the beautiful lights, Nabana no sato is an impressive sight to see.

Photo : Emran Kassim on Flickr

How to get there:
From Nagoya station, take the Kansai main line train to Nagashima station. From there, you can either walk, or take a taxi that won’t take more than 10 minutes at most.

Best time to go:
The illumination period lasts from December to March, and it is best to go after it gets dark. The weekends can get quite crowded, so weekday nights may be your best bet.

A Brief Stop on the Way to Kyoto

Nagoya might be the 4th largest city in Japan, but it’s not mentioned nearly as much in the tourist circle quite like Tokyo and Kyoto are. However, being right between the two, it makes for a great pit stop when traveling. It’s a unique and exciting city with a gorgeous castle, good shopping, A+ food, and a rich, proud history. If you venture into this wonderful city, I assure you will not be disappointed.

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