25 Things To Do In & Around Nagoya
Nagoya is one of Japan’s great metropolises, one of the country’s financial and industrial hubs. A modern and youthful city, Nagoya also has a rich history and great food scene, making it an ideal stop as you move from east to west, west to east, or into the mountainous heartland of Central Japan from Nagoya Station.
Our ‘How to Get to Nagoya’ page provides directions from Nagano, Tokyo, the airports and more. Here are our suggestions for 25 things to do in and around Nagoya:
1 / Nagoya Central Area / all year round
The areas immediately around and nearby Nagoya Station are full of dining, shopping and accommodation options making it a great area to stay and play. Numerous large hotels are located in this area, with accommodation ranging from high-end to budget. For further information about accommodation in Nagoya, please refer to our ‘Nagoya Hotel page’.
To the east of the station, Sakae is known for its large department stores and shopping centres – including Matsuzakaya, Sunshine Sakae, Nadya Park and Mitsukoshi – and many restaurants.
From the station, Sakae is around 20 to 30 minutes on-foot or only a 5-minute subway ride to Sakae Station or Hisayaodori Station.
2 / Nagoya Station & JR Central Tower / all year round
The area immediately around and above Nagoya Station is heavily built-up and includes JR Central Towers. Completed in 1999, the Office Tower rises to 245 metres while the somewhat smaller Hotel Tower sits nearby.
The lower floors of the towers house a range of facilities including the station itself (1F), a vast Takashimaya department store (2F to 11F), and Tower Plaza shopping centre including around 40 restaurants (12F to 13F).
Above those floors, the Hotel Tower is home to a Marriott Hotel while the Office Tower is occupied by many companies. While this may not be of interest to international visitors, the ‘Panorama Salon’ at the top of the Office Tower includes a wine bar, café and day spa offering great views of the city.
Opened 2017, JR Gate Tower connects to JR Central Tower and contains further large departments stores, shopping, Nagoya JR Gate Tower Hotel and more. As such, basing yourself in this area is a great option to get the most out of your time in Nagoya.
3 / Atsuta Jingu / all year round
One of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan, Atsuta Jingu enshrines the sun goddess Amaterasu and is the repository of the ‘Sword of Kusanagi’ – one of the three sacred treasures that symbolize the imperial throne.
The site has been consecrated for at least 1900 years, with the current structures remodeled in a style similar to those of the Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred in the country – discussed below at No.11. The grounds are always open to the public and admission is free.
Around 10 minutes from Nagoya Station. Jingumae Station or Jingunishi Station are the nearest.
4 / Nagoya Castle / all year round
Located in central Nagoya, Nagoya Castle was once the heart of the city and region. As one of the most important castle towns in Edo Period Japan (1603-1868), the story of the castle is inextricable from that of the city and its people.
Sadly, the castle was largely destroyed in air raids during the Second World War and today’s structure is mostly a post-war reconstruction.
Nevertheless, what stands today is one of the city’s biggest attractions. The adjacent Honmaru Goten (castle palace) is a recent reconstruction but given the attention to detail and traditional methods used is well-worth visiting – considered one of the finest examples of ‘Shion’ architecture existing today.
The castle is open daily (other than Dec.29 – Jan.1) from 09:00 to 16:30. Admission is JPY500 per adult and free for junior high school students and younger children.
Approximately 15 minutes from Nagoya Station. Nearest station: Shiyakusho Station.
5 / Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology / all year round
Housed in the original redbrick building of the Toyoda Company, the forerunner to the now global Toyota, this well-planned museum tells the story of one of Japan’s great companies. In doing so, it reflects Nagoya’s position as one of Japan’s industrial centres and traces the country’s rise to become a technological powerhouse.
Originally a textile company, Toyoda Kiichiro – son of company founder Toyoda Sakichi – adapted the machinery and technology to the production of motor vehicles and transformation into the Toyota Motor Corporation. The rest, as they say, is history.
Exhibitions are separated into the Textile Machinery Pavilion and Automobile Pavilion, with the museum open daily (other than Mondays) from 09:00 to 17:00. Admission is JPY1200 for adults, JPY600 for middle and high schools students, and JPY400 for primary school students.
Approximately 10 to 15 minutes from Nagoya Station, the nearest station is Sako Station. Alternatively, the museum can be reached on-foot with 25 minutes from Nagoya Station.
6 / SCMAGLEV and Railway Park / all year round
For the trainspotters among you, the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park showcases the history and technological ingenuity of the Central Japan Railways Company.
A collection of 39 train cars and locomotives – ranging from older, retired to models to the ‘maglev’ prototypes currently being trialed – sits on the first floor, while the second floor is dedicated to interactive learning experiences for children and train simulators – fun for children and adults alike.
The museum also houses some of Japan’s largest model train sets including highly detailed recreations of Tokyo, Osaka and of course, Nagoya. While trainspotters will love the whole experience, you don’t have to be a train nerd to enjoy this excellent museum.
Open daily (other than Dec.28-Jan.1) from 10:00 to 17:30. Admission is JPY1000 (with additional fees of JPY100/500 for use of the simulators – booking required).
Around 30 minutes from Nagoya Station. The nearest station is Kinjofuto Station.
7 / Tokugawa Art Museum & Tokugawa Garden / all year round
This private museum exhibits over 12,000 items including ceramics, paintings, furniture, Noh costumes and masks, along with armour and swords once owned by the Owari clan – one of three branches of the ruling Togkukawa family during the Edo Period.
At that time, Nagoya and its ruling Owari were among the wealthiest areas and clans in Japan; amassing great wealth as reflected by the collection now on display. Located on the what was the site of their residence, the museum adjoins the Tokugawa-en or Tokugawa Garden. The beautiful grounds are home to a tea house and several bridges, best experience in spring or autumn.
Open daily (other Mondays and mid-Dec. until Jan.3) from 10:00 to 17:00. Admission to the museum is JPY1200 per adult, JPY700 for students and JPY500 for children. Admission to the garden is JPY300 or a joint ticket for both is JPY1550.
The nearest station is Ozone Station – a 15 minute walk the museum and total journey of around 30 minutes from Nagoya Station.
8 / Try the famous food of Nagoya / all year round
One of the great pleasures of any travel is food and Nagoya definitely won’t disappoint. We recommend trying:
Hitsumabushi – as Japan’s largest producer of ‘unagi’ (freshwater eel), this is a bit of must while in Nagoya. Typically grilled and then coated in dark sauce, served on rice with accompanying condiments and broth, hitsumabushi is a signature dish of Nagoya.
Misonikomi Udon – using ‘hoto’ noodles – thicker noodles from Yamanishi Prefecture – and a miso broth, misonikomi udon is served in an earthen pot and garnished with spring onions, chicken, mushroom, raw egg and ‘mochi’ (rice cakes).
As you can imagine, it fills you up.
Misokatsu – another miso-based Nagoya favourite, misokatsu is your typically tonkatsu (deep fried crumbed pork cutlet), with a special miso sauce coating. Known of its indulgent and earthy flavour, misokatsu makes a great ‘bento’ (lunch box) to take on the train when heading-out of Nagoya Station.
Tebasaki – season, deep fried chicken wings. Salty, spicy and crispy – need we say more?
9 / Legoland / all year round
Also accessible via Kinjofuto Station – the nearest station to the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park – Legoland Japan opened in 2017 and has quickly established itself as one of Nagoya’s most popular attractions. Primarily aimed at children, there’s enough in the park to keep adults entertained including large-scale Lego models and rides divided into seven themed areas – reflecting different worlds in the Lego universe.
Like any good theme park, there are plenty of dining areas, merchandise and a hotel on-site to fully immerse you in the world of Lego. A great option for families, particularly those with younger children.
Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00, extended to 18:00 on weekends and national holidays. Admission is (peak/off-peak days): Adult (aged 13+) JPY5700/4600; children (3-12) JPY3700/3400.
Legoland Japan is a 35-minute journey from Nagoya Station via Kinjofuto Station.
10 / Korankei / best: autumn
Korankei or the ‘Koran Valley’ is regarded as one of the region’s best locations to enjoy the stunning colours of Japan’s autumn leaves. Following the Tomoe River around the base of Mount Iimori, the leaves are typically at their best along the river through November.
Legend has it that in the 17th century, the head abbot of the local Kojakuji Temple planted many of the maple trees that today, attract visitors from all over the region each autumn. During that time, trees around the Taigetsu-kyo Bridge are illuminated in the evening – from sunset until 21:00 – creating a beautiful environment through which to wander.
If heading to Nagano during autumn, we recommend taking the time to seek out of the region’s beautiful autumn leaves. Our ‘Autumn Leaves in Nagano’ page is a great place to start when looking for tips and suggestions of where to go.
Korankei is approximately 2 hours from Nagoya Station.
11 / Ise Shima/ all year round
Approximately 100 minutes from Nagoya Station by train, Ise Shima – or Ise Peninsula – is home to the most sacred Shinto shrines in Japan. Designated the Ise Shima National Park due to its cultural importance and natural beauty, the area draws a significant amount of domestic tourism from Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo.
The Ise Grand Shrine complex consists of two main shrines – the Kotai Jingu (Inner Shrine) and Geku (Outer Shrine). Believed to have first been established over 2000 and 1500 years (respectively), the inner shrine is dismantled, moved and reconstructed every 20 years.
Next occurring in 2033, this tradition embodies the Shinto belief that death and renewal are a necessary and constant aspect of existence while serving the practical task of teaching each generation the skills needed to construct and maintain the shrines.
In total there are more than 100 shrines making-up the overall complex with the two main shrines – Kotai Jingu and Geku – located severl kilometres apart. Leading-up to the Kotai Jingu, the Oharaimachi is a picturesque and historic shopping street lined with restaruants, cafes and traditional buildings.
The scenic region is also home to ‘onsen’ (hot springs), numerous hotels and guesthouses, theme parks and a thriving pearl industry.
While Ise Shima can be visited as a day-trip from Nagoya Station, we recommended spending at least one night there. For further information, please refer to our ‘Ise Shima Area’ hotel page.
12 / Walk the Kumano Kodo / spring to autumn
For more than 1000 years, the pilgrimage trails of the Kumano Kodo have been walked by monks, pilgrims, aristocracy and lay-people between sacred sites and temples on the Kii Peninsula.
As one of only two pilgrimage routes in the world to have World Heritage-listing – along with the Camino de Santiago in Spain – walking the Kumano Kodo is one of Japan’s most rewarding experiences.
There are many routes that can be walked, varying in difficulty and length. The Nakahechi is one of the most popular. Stretching 30km from Tanabe on the west coast, this is a comfortable two-day walk – requiring an overnight stay in Chikatsuya Oji – which ends at the Kumano Hongu Taisha, one of the Kumano Grand Shrines.
Located at the centre of the Kumano Kodo network of pilgrimage trails, the Kumano Hongu Taisha serves as the head shrine for more than 3000 Kumano shrines spread throughout Japan. Along with the nearby Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha, the shrine is one of the grand shrines of Kumano, enshrining deities including the sun goddess Amaterasu.
Visitors to the region have several options in terms of of where to stay with the Kumano Hongu Area, Katsuura Onsen Area and Tanabe City Area providing a large choice of accommodation from where you can walk the trails or use local buses to visit the sites on day-trips.
From Nagoya Station, it typically takes between 2.5 to 3.5 hours to reach the sites and trails of Kumano Kodo – depending on which area you choose to visit/start from.
13 / Mount Koya / all year round
As the centre of the Shingon school of Buddhism, Mount Koya or ‘Koyasan’ is another of Japan’s most important religious sites. Founded in the 9th century by the monk Kukai – one of the most significant historic and religious figures in Japan’s history – ‘Koya-san’ is an immense temple settlement spread through the forests of Mount Koya.
Also known as Kobo Daishi, Kukai’s mausoleum – Okunoin Temple – is in Koya-san and acts as the start and end point for the ‘Henro’ – the famous ‘Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage’.
While the precinct is home to numerous temples, the Okunoin is the most revered – the place where Kukai is said to wait in eternal meditation for the arrival of the future Buddha.
For international visitors to Japan, Koya-san may not be as well-known as the temples of Kyoto, but it should not be over-looked and is truly one of Japan’s most rewarding destinations. Within Koya-san, 52 temples offer lodging – called ‘shukubo’ – allowing visitors to glimpse the monastic life. Accommodation is open to visitors of any faith and background, and again, is one of the most engaging experiences awaiting you in Japan.
Koysan-san is a 3.5 to 4 hour journey from Nagoya Station. For further information regarding accommodation in and around Koyasan, please refer to our ‘Mount Koya Area’ hotel page.
14 / The historic old town of Takayama / all year round
Directly accessible from Nagoya using the Limited Express Wide View Hida Service, the historic old town of Takayama is a popular destination. Famous for the excellent preservation of its Edo Period (1603-1868) historic centre, Takayama draws large crowds.
Try to avoid the middle of the day – between 11:00 and 15:00 – when large tour buses arrive and crowd the small historic area with tourists. Guesthouses and other accommodation options in Takayama can be viewed through the following page.
Takayama is equally well-known for its food culture including Hida beef – considered some of the best in Japan – and its famous beef sushi, Takayama ramen and more! For foodies, Takayama is a real treat. If you have your eye on a particular restaurant, make sure to book in advance!
From Nagoya Station, Takayama is a direct 140 to 160 minute train journey (depending on which service you choose).
15 / Visit the villages of Shirakawago and Gokayama / all year round
Also easily accessible from Nagoya via Takayama, the villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1995. Actually consisting of three villages, they are known for this distinctive ‘gassho-style’ thatch-roofed houses set in a beautiful alpine setting of rice fields and high mountains above.
World Heritage-listing has ensured that the villages are hugely popular with both domestic and international tourists but don’t let that put you off. The villages are well-worth visiting and walking away for the central area of the main village of Ogimachi, will quickly have you unencumbered by other visitors.
If you really want to avoid the crowds, consider heading to the other villages of Suganuma and Ainokura. Much smaller than Ogimachi they are also far less visited and offer a peaceful experience of these important rural hamlets.
16 / Gero Onsen / all year round
The thermal water of Gero is said to treat a variety of ailments including rheumatism, muscle aches and skin problems, neuralgia, and fatigue. The greatest majority of hotels are in the main village along the Hida River, with further guesthouses located in the forests and hills surrounding the town.
There are three public hot springs in Gero, as well as a large outdoor bath close to the Gero Bridge where you can bathe out in the open for free. As many other hot spring resorts, Gero Onsen has four free foot baths, open to anyone that wants to dip their feet in the water.
If you want to know more about the history of the town, the Gero Onsen Museum displays centuries-old artefacts tracing the history of Gero, while Onsenji Temple is a short but energetic walk uphill form the town. Using the Limited Express Hida service from Nagoya, the direct journey to Gero takes just under 2 hours. For further information regarding accommodation in and around Gero please refer to our ‘Gero Onsen Area’ hotel page.
Looking for more onsen options? Please refer to our ‘Onsen In & Around Nagano’ page.
17 / Gujo Hachiman / all year round
Located around 2 hours from Nagoya, Gujo Hachiman is a quaint castle town set in a beautiful area of Gifu Prefecture. The reconstructed castle is the obvious attraction however visitors to Gujo will quickly discover a pleasant town which is ideal for exploring on-foot.
Small waterways and canals criss-cross the town offering fantastic photo opportunities, with koi swimming in some. While Gujo Hachiman is an all year round destination, it is most popular in summer for its Obon dance festival – the ‘Gujo Odori’ runs through the month of August – and in autumn, as visitors come to the area to view the beautiful changing leaves.
For further information regarding accommodation in and around Gujo Hachiman, please refer to our ‘Gujo Hachiman Area’ hotel page.
From Nagoya, take the Limited Express Hida to Mino-Ota and transfer to the Nagaragawa Railway Line bound for Hokuno, and disembark at Gujohachiman Station.
18 / Inuyama / all year round
Another castle town to the north of Nagoya, Inuyama was another domain of the Owari clan. The small but beautiful Inuyama Castle is a registered National Treasure and the oldest original wooden castle remaining today.
The castle is open daily (other than Dec.29-Jan.1) from 09:00 until 17:00 and costs JPY550 for admission
This pleasant town is situated next to the Kiso River, which sees the continued practice of cormorant fishing, called ‘ukai’ in Japanese.
Also nearby, Uraku-en Garden is a traditional Japanese garden including the Jo-an Tea House. Built in the 17th century, the tea house is open daily (other than Dec.29-Jan.1) from 09:00 to 17:00 and costs JPY1000 to enter.
Inuyama Station is approximately 35 to 45 minutes from Nagoya.
19 / Walk the Nakasendo Trail / best: spring to autumn
Directly accessible from Nagoya Station – via either Nakatsugawa Station or Kiso-Fukushima Station – the Nakasendo Trail traces a historic highway that once connected Tokyo – then called Edo – and Kyoto during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Though much of the route is now gone, several sections can still be walked including the picturesque ‘Kisoji’, the section of road that runs through the Kiso Valley.
Serviced by many ‘juku’ or post towns, the Kisoji is known for the historic preservation of Narai-juku, Magome-juku and Tsumago-juku. These picturesque little towns are cared for by local residents who strive to maintain their traditional aesthetic and ways of life. The journey on-foot between the towns is a lovely experience, particularly in spring and autumn.
From Nagoya, take the Limited Express Wide View Shinano service to either Nakatsugawa Station – 50 minutes – or Kiso-Fukushima Station – 85 minutes.
20 / Hiking on the many trails of Nagano / spring to autumn
As a place of dramatic mountains and lush forests, Nagano and Central Japan is home of some of Japan’s best hiking trails including the Nakasendo Trail, Kamikochi (as below), Shiga Kogen and more! – all of which can be easily accessed from Nagoya. For further information, please refer to our ‘Best Trails in Nagano’ page.
21 / Kamikochi / spring to autumn
Situated in the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is a pristine and beautiful alpine valley open to the public from mid-April until mid-November each year. The valley follows the Azusa River while some of Japan’s tallest mountain peaks rise to over 3000 meters above.
From the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, walking trails span-out along the valley – suitable to anyone of reasonable fitness – before more advanced hiking and mountaineering trails lead into the mountains.
Considered the jewel of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, visiting Kamikochi is one of Nagano’s most memorable experiences – a truly special place of natural and spiritual importance.
Kamikochi can be reached via Takayama or Matsumoto. From Nagoya, we recommend doing so via Takayama. Kamikochi is a 60-minute bus drive from Takayam Station.
22 / Matsumoto Castle / all year round
Standing guard over Matsumoto City for more than 400 years, Matsumoto Castle is a registered National Treasure and for Japanese, an instantly recognizable structure. Visiting the castle is an easy and enjoyable day-trip or en-route to Nagano.
While there, enjoy the historic character of the city along with its many good cafes, restaurants, museums and shopping.
Matsumoto can be reached using the Limited Express Wide View Shinano service, a direct 120 minute journey from Nagoya Station.
23 / Jigokudani Monkey Park / all year round
Accessible via Nagano Station, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is one of Central Japan’s most well-known destinations. At its most popular through the snow of winter, the park is in fact open all year round. The monkeys – known for their hot spring-bathing antics – come to the park all year round with each season offering its own reasons to visit.
Known fondly as ‘snow monkeys’, they are in fact there all year round with spring, summer and autumn each providing their own reasons to visit to the park.
Nagano can be reached using the Limited Express Wide View Shinano service, a direct 175 minute journey from Nagoya Station. For further information, please refer to our ‘From Nagoya: How to get to the Snow Monkey Park’ page.
24 / Nagano Ski Resorts / winter
As host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Nagano is proud of its Olympic heritage. Events were spread across different resorts across the region and at several venues in Nagano City.
Nagano is home to around 80 resorts however only a few were lucky enough to host events including Hakuba Happo One. Several events took place in and around Happo One, establishing Hakuba’s global profile. To this day, the resorts of Hakuba can lay claim to being Nagano’s most international and popular. Plenty to keep you entertained on your winter adventure!
The Nagano Winter Olympics were the first to include snowboarding as a medaled sport, with all snowboarding events taking place in Shiga Kogen – Japan’s largest and highest ski resort. Boasting Nagano’s longest season and most reliable snow conditions – given its higher altitude and prevailing weather conditions – Shiga is another resort quickly coming to the attention of international visitors. Offering over 600 hectares of interconnected terrain, Shiga is likely to become much more poplar over the coming years so get there now while it’s still relatively quiet.
Less than an hours drive from Shiga, Nozawa Onsen is one of Nagano’s most popular resorts – offering skiers and boarders around 300 hectares of train between 565 and 1650 metres.
Also known for its great powder and setup for snowboarders, Nozawa is a lively resort serviced by a large village full of accommodation, restaurants and bars and ‘onsen’ (hot springs), Nozawa’s reputation is as much based on what happens off the mountain.
25 / Private Charters from Nagoya
Based in Nagano City, Snow Monkey Resorts is the region’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator. Operating all year round, we can provide charters to any destination including Nagoya, with customised itineraries to suit your travel needs and interests. We have the expertise and experience to help you get the most out of your time in the region, including transport to and from any regional destination.
We can arrange transport including a private vehicle and driver, along with an English-speaking guide to, from and between any of these destinations and more! Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations, in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan from Nagoya? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!