Nagoya has long been known as “the boring city” both in Japan and abroad. For years, its popularity has lagged behind other major cities in Japan. Tourists hesitate to add it to their itineraries, but those who have spent time here tend to leave pleasantly surprised! Read on to find out more about some of the hidden gems Nagoya and its surrounding area have to offer.
Let’s set the scene: you’re planning a trip to Nagoya to visit Ghibli Park in nearby Nagakute City, as so many have in the past year. You’ve scored tickets to the park and booked your hotel — great! But, what are you going to do with your remaining free time?
Some might suggest Nagoya Castle, or the bustling Osu Kannon area. These are wonderful tourist spots in their own right (and the shachihoko (half-fish half-tiger) decorations on top of the castle weigh over 40kg each in pure gold!!), but let’s dig a bit further.
A Walk through the Past | Pictured here is what was once the main gate of Kanazawa Prison, now a very famous sight at Meiji Mura.
Located just outside of Nagoya in lush Inuyama, Meiji Mura is a sprawling outdoor museum filled with actual buildings from the Meiji Period — over 60 of them! Most Meiji Period architecture was erased from Japanese cities during World War II, so this museum is truly a treasure trove. Hop on one of the historical trains or buses within the park to feel the breeze and take in the scenery. You’d need about half a day to see everything the park has to offer, but you can always stop to rest at one of the museum’s cafes or restaurants, or play a game of archery! You can even rent Meiji-style kimono to walk around the park in.
How to get there: You can take the Meitetsu Line to Inuyama Station, then transfer to a bus that goes directly to Meiji Mura from the station. It’s about a 50-minute trip from Nagoya Station!
The Island of Art | One thing Sakushima is well known for aside from art installations is its purple beaches!
Looking for some peace and quiet away from bustling city life? Head to Sakushima (Saku Island) when the weather is nice! Located off the south coast of Aichi, this crab-shaped island is full of beaches, forestry, art, and cats! Only around 250 people live on the island, and most of it is covered in greenery. Take a stroll around the island, and you’ll encounter everything from traditional black-walled village homes and shrines to modern art installations. You can swim or fish at the beaches, and enjoy incredibly fresh seafood dishes made with the locals’ catches. Given the huge population of cats on the island, you’ll surely find some cute, furry tour guides along your way🐈 If all of this sounds like too much for one day, tons of western- and Japanese-style hotels are available along the beaches too!
How to get there: Take the Meitetsu Line from Nagoya Station to Nishio Station. From there, take the Meitetsu Tobukotsu Bus (Nishio-Isshiki Line) to Isshiki Sakana Hiroba. Then, you can take a ferry right to Sakushima!
Fall Foliage Abound | Don’t miss your chance to see this beautiful illumination at Korankei this month!
Everyone knows Japan is famous for cherry blossoms in spring. But if you visit Japan later in the year, Aichi offers great spots to see the fall foliage! The most famous of them all is a stunning gorge called Korankei. Truly a hidden gem within Japan, the area has over 4,000 trees that boast beautiful reds and yellows each year. Visit during any evening in November to see the trees lit by soft illumination, reflecting off of the Tomoe River below and creating views that are genuinely out of this world.
How to get there: From Nagoya Station, take the Higashiyama Subway Line to Fushimi Station. Transfer there to the Tsurumai Subway Line, and take it to Toyohashi Station. From Toyohashi Station, take the Meitetsu Bus bound for “Asuke Kuragaike-koen-mae, Korankei Keiyu.” Ride for about 45 minutes, and you’ll be there!
Kiso River Boat Tour
A Unique Sailing Experience | We can’t think of a better way to see Inuyama Castle!
Another top spot in Inuyama is the Kiso River, long famous as a cormorant fishing spot. Even if you’re not a fisher, you’re welcome to hop on a boat and sail down the Kiso River for a boat tour of the area, which includes lush forests and amazing views of Inuyama Castle. It’s especially stunning in fall when the leaves have changed, but the sunshine and fresh, salty air are great any time of year. When you alight at the end, you’ll be directly in front of the Momotaro Shrine area! Visit the famous peach-themed shrine, and grab a bite to eat at any of the local restaurants and markets dotted along your walk back afterward.
How to get there: Take the Meitetsu Inuyama Line from Nagoya Station to Inuyamayuen Station. Once you get off, you’ll need to walk about 10 minutes toward the Kiso River, and just over the footbridge, you’ll see a tourism office to the right where you can buy tickets for the boat. See the Google Maps link directly to that office here!
You’re on Top of the World! | Or on top of Nagoya, at least!
Unbeknownst to many in Nagoya, the best view of the city is less than 5 minutes from Nagoya Station. The Sky Promenade is an open-air 360-degree observation platform that sits atop the Midland Square building. It’s the tallest in the whole region! Day or night, Sky Promenade offers incredible views of the city — you can see Nagoya Castle’s shining shachihoko, the prominent TV tower, and much more! Restaurants and bars have also opened within the platform area, so you can take in the views along with a lovely meal or drink. If you’re only in Nagoya for a short time and want to take it all in at once, this is the place to be!
How to get there: Leave Nagoya Station from the Sakura-dori side and take a slight right out the doors, then head straight ahead and you will see Midland Square across the street. Cross and head inside to find dedicated elevators that will take you right up to the Sky Promenade entrance!
Bonus: Battle of the Chicken Wings
Take Your Pick | Which do you like, Yamachan or Furaibou?
Nagoya has a unique food culture that we sum up under the name “Nagoyameshi” (Nagoyan cuisine). Mostly brown and filled with deep flavors, Nagoya has quite a few of its own famous foods but the most popular is inarguably tebasaki, or chicken wings! There are two major chicken wing restaurants in Nagoya: Sekai no Yamachan and Furaibou. Yamachan offers their wings on the spicy side, while Furaibou’s are sweeter, but both are worth a try and pair great with drinks. If you’re looking for a spot for an evening out, either of these are great choices!
We hope this has inspired you to take a second look at Aichi Prefecture and all it has to offer! Despite its reputation it is truly an exciting area to visit, and we’d love for you to come by and find out 🙂 If you find yourself in the area, feel free to stop by GenkiJACS’ Nagoya location right near Nagoya Station and say hello! 🙂
Do you have any other favorite spots in Aichi? If so, please let us know in the comments!