Travel Destinations: Nagoya, Japan
Nagoya is the fourth largest city in Japan and a major industrial centre of the country; although it may be the birthplace of pachinko (Japanese pinball), tourists often overlook this city. Even though it may not have the glittering lights of Tokyo, Nagoya has several very good reasons for coming here.
During World War II, Nagoya was nearly utterly destroyed by the Allied bombings; since then, however, it has managed to rise up out of the ashes like a golden phoenix to become a thoroughly modern city with tall skyscrapers, wide streets and the hustle and bustle of any other city.
So where can you go and what should you do in this city? Start with a trip to Nagoya-jo which was built by one of Japan’s greatest heroes, Tokugawa Ieyasu. He built it on the site of an older castle for his ninth son between 1610 and 1614. It was destroyed during World War II and was replaced with a ferroconcrete copy; although it is a replica, it is still a wonderful place to visit.
Inside, there is a wonderful museum which showcases some interesting artefacts – from armour to treasure to the histories of the Tokugawa, Toyotomi and Oda families. If you don’t want to climb the stairs, then there is a lift.
In the castle grounds, you can relax and wander in the beautiful gardens, Ninomaru-en, which is simply stunning when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Nearby is the stylish Nagoya No Theatre which contains a small museum.
Atsuta-jingu is nestled away among cypress trees that are a thousand years old; built in the third century, this is one of the most sacred Shinto shrines. According to local legend, the shrine is home to the kusanagi-no-tsurugi (a sacred sword which means ‘grass-cutting sword’), one of the three regalia that were handed to the imperial family by the goddess Amatersau. You won’t get the chance to see this sword – only the emperor and a few priests are allowed to see them.
There is a wonderful little museum where you can admire some swords from the Tokugawa period as well as some masks and paintings.
The Ran no Yakata Orchid Gardens are another great place to visit. These gardens are home to around 250 species of orchid; wander the winding paths and admire the flowers when they are in bloom.
If you head down to the Nagoya Port Area, there are several attractions just waiting for you. The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium is a great place to take the kids; the Port Tower offers spectacular views of the surrounding area as well as housing the Maritime Museum and the Fuji Antarctic Exploration Ship.
Nagoya is a great destination, with many more cultural attractions to visit. You can sample the delicious local cuisine and wander the streets to take in the culture and the energy of this wonderful city.