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The 20 Best Things to do in Nagoya, Japan for First Timers

Nagoya Castle

When visiting a new location, it makes sense to plan your vacation itinerary so that you can get the best experience possible during your visit. If you are visiting Nagoya, Japan, you will find that this amazing city in the Chubu region offers visitors plenty of things to see and do. There is something to suit all tastes and ages, so you will not have a dull moment during your visit. While some activities give you a taste of Japanese life and culture, others are fun attractions for everyone to enjoy. To help you choose the activities and attractions you would like to include in your vacation itinerary, here are the 20 best things to do in Nagoya, Japan.

Osu Kannon Temple

20. Visit the Osu Kannon Temple

Although there are many temples in Nagoya, one that you should try to visit while you are in this city is the Osu Kannon Temple. The original temple was built during the 12th century in the Kamakura Period. Under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 17th century, the temple was moved to its current location. Then, the temple was rebuilt during the 1970s. You can buy good luck charms from this temple or visit during one of the bi-monthly flea markets that the temple hosts.

Oasis 21

19. Take a Train Ride to Oasis 21

Tsunagu Japan recommends taking a train ride to Oasis 21, which is often referred to as 'Spaceship Aqua.' The basement level is a complex of shops, so it is an excellent place to visit if you want to enjoy a little retail therapy while you are visiting the city. The upper Galaxy Platform has a glass walkway that is illuminated at night-time. You can also walk around a suspended lake on the top of the building while enjoying stunning city views.

Sumo Tournament

18. Watch a Sumo Tournament

Sumo wrestling is the national sport of Japan, and you can watch the matches during your stay in Nagoya. The main tournaments are called Hon basho, and these take place six times annually in various locations. If you are visiting Nagoya in July, you will have the chance to watch one of the main tournaments as these take place over a 15-day period during this month.

Nittaiji Temple

17. Go to Nittaiji Temple

Built in honor of the relationship between Thailand and Japan in 1904, Nittaiji Temple is a Buddhist temple that contains elements that reflect the cultures of both Japan and Thailand. Some of the items on display were donated to Japan by Thailand's King Rama V. You should try to visit the landmark during your stay as it is one of the most unique temples in Nagoya.

Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium

16. See the Marine Life at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium

The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It contains huge tanks containing local marine life, and you have the chance to learn about the different species. There is also an icebreaker ship to explore, and this contains a museum. Throughout the day, there are educational talks, feeding times, and dolphin shows to watch. A visit to this aquarium is an activity that will suit people of all ages.

Toganji Temple

15. Visit Toganji Temple

Toganji Temple is a temple dedicated to the Hindu faith that was built in the 16th century. It honors the Goddess Saraswati, and it is known for its large Buddha sculpture. One of the unusual features of this temple is a large woodblock, and it is believed that touching the block of wood will cleanse you of your sins. The altar within the temple is ornately decorated, so it is a pretty destination to visit.

Local Food

14. Sample the Local Food

When you visit a new destination, it is always good to sample the local food as this is an important element of a location's culture. Nagoya has an excellent food scene, and there are many outstanding restaurants and food stalls where you can sample the local dishes and delicacies. Nagoya is known for miso production, so you should try some of the dishes, including this ingredient. The area is also known for hitsumabushi, a dish featuring eel that is served four different ways over four courses. If you still have room for dessert, you should also try uiro, Nagoya's regional variation of a popular Japanese sticky dessert called mochi. The sweet treat is made from sugar mixed with glutinous rice flour and various natural flavorings.

Tokugawa Art Museum

13. See the Art at Tokugawa Art Museum

For art enthusiasts, one of the top attractions in the city is the Tokugawa Art Museum. At this art museum, you will learn about the history and culture of Japanese art, and there is a gallery devoted to the artwork of the Shogun family, says The Crazy Tourist. There are approximately ten thousand items on display, including both artwork and cultural relics.


12. Explore Korankei

For those who enjoy the outdoors, an activity to include in your vacation itinerary is spending a day at Korankei. It is a valley just outside Nagoya that sits by Mount Iimori, which is where you will find Kojakuji Temple. The approach to the temple is lined with maple trees that were planted by the head priest in the 17th-century. The Tomoe River also passes through the valley. The best time of year to visit is November when the colors are spectacular. Walking around Korankei is a free activity, so it is a good option for those traveling on a budget.

Nagoya City Science Museum

11. Enjoy an Interactive Experience at the Nagoya City Science Museum

There is something for everyone at the Nagoya City Science Museum, as it is filled with fun, interactive activities that will both educate and entertain. One of the highlights of a visit is the planetarium, which is the oldest in the world. Other attractions include a freeing laboratory and a tornado laboratory. Furthermore, there are live shows that demonstrate science experiments, and these are particularly popular with children. There are also multiple other activities that children will enjoy at this museum, so it is a great day out for all the family.

Noritake Gardens

10. Learn About Ceramics at Noritake Gardens

Noritake no Moris is a garden built on the grounds of the former factory of Noritake, which is a leading company in the ceramics industry. The gardens are adorned with various ceramic pieces created by Noritake, and you will also see some traditional kilns. In addition to walking around the gardens, visitors can also visit the Crat Center, where you can watch the creation of porcelain. There is also the option to give it a go yourself.

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

9. Visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

If you had a good time at the Toyota Kaikan Museum, then you should also visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. In this museum, there are multiple interactive activities, and there is also an audio tour. The museum covers the history of Toyota and how it went from a weaving plant to a robotics factory before becoming a vehicle factory.


8. Go to Legoland

A fantastic attraction for all the family is Legoland, and it is one of the best places to visit with kids. As its name suggests, this amusement park is based on the popular toy brand Lego, and there are Lego models throughout the park. There are also rides and Lego-building areas to enjoy. It is divided into seven themed areas of the different Lego world universes. You can spend a full day at this attraction as there are eateries on-site.

Top of the City's Tallest Building

7. Ride to the Top of the City's Tallest Building

The tallest building in Nagoya is Midland Square, a 247-meter tall skyscraper constructed in 2007. On the first four floors of the building, there are cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. You can enjoy some shopping and grab a bite to eat. Climb one floor higher, and you will find a cinema. However, the top three floors, called the Sky Promenade, are the biggest attraction at this building. From the observation deck at the top of the tower, there are panoramic views over the city. Some of the sights include Nagoya Port, JR Central Towers, and Nagoya Castle.

Nagoya TV Tower

6. See the Views from the Nagoya TV Tower

If you want to enjoy more impressive views of the city, then you should visit the Nagoya TV Tower. The tower was built in 1954, and it stands at 180 meters tall. However, the observation deck is at 100 meters. From the deck, you can see across the city and Hisaya-Odori Park. If you want to capture some photographs of the views, then take along your camera.

Botanical Gardens

5. Stroll Through the Botanical Gardens

The zoo in Nagoya is not recommended for animal lovers as the enclosures are very small. However, if you head next door to the zoo, you will find the Botanical Gardens. It has a quiet and tranquil atmosphere, so it is a fantastic place to visit if you want to enjoy a peaceful stroll away from the city's buzz. The garden sights change seasonally, but it is a delightful place to visit at any time of the year. It is also an excellent place to enjoy a picnic.


4. Explore Atsuta-Jingu

Atsuta-Jingu is one of Nagoya's most famous shrines, and it sits in a garden surrounded by cypress trees. The shrine houses a grass-cutting sword that is one of the Three Sacred Imperial Treasures. According to legend, the sword was a gift from the Shinto Sun Goddess Amaterasu-Omikami to the Japanese Royal Family. It is almost two thousand years old, although it has been rebuilt many times. The shrine also has a Treasure Hall, which exhibits weaponry, masks, and paintings.

JR SCMAGLEV & Railway Park

3. See the Trains at the JR SCMAGLEV & Railway Park

The JR SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is a museum that focuses on high-speed railways. Exhibits include both modern and historic railway stock, and visitors can learn about the Japanese history of train travel. One of the highlights is the train simulator. Although this attraction will hold the most interest for train enthusiasts, it will also appeal to those interested in technology, engineering, and history.

Nagoya Castle

2. Go to Nagoya Castle

One of the most significant historical landmarks in Nagoya is Nagoya Castle, so it is an attraction not to miss while visiting the city. The castle's construction was completed by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1615, during the Edo Period. It is topped with a golden shachihoko, a mythical creature with the body of a fish and the head of a tiger. Originally, it was the seat of the Owari branch of the ruling Tokugawa family. At that time, it was one of the largest castles in Japan, although larger castles have been built since. Nagoya was built around the castle and continued to grow until it became Japan's fourth-largest city. It is a designated National Treasure and National Historic Site. Visitors can tour both the castle and the beautiful gardens.

Toyota Kaikan Museum

1. Visit the Toyota Kaikan Museum

According to Nomadasaurs, the best thing to do in Nagoya, Japan, for first-timers is to visit the Toyota Kaikan Museum. Toyota is one of the most famous Japanese brands in the world. The starting point at this attraction is the Exhibition Hall, and this has approximately 20 of the latest car models manufactured by Toyota. The Exhibition Hall is a fascinating place to visit if you are interested in engineering and robotics, as you can check out some of the innovative products on which Toyota is currently working. It is also possible to take a two-hour tour of Toyota's main factory, and you will learn about the growth of the global brand and how they make their products. However, you must book the tour at least two weeks in advance.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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