Image
nagoya-day-trip

24 Hours in Nagoya: The Perfect 1-Day Itinerary

2023-08-16

As Japan’s fourth largest city and the capital of Aichi prefecture, Nagoya is a captivating metropolis full of amazing experiences. Whether you’re a history geek, nature lover, or shopaholic, Nagoya has a little bit of everything for everyone.

That said, Nagoya is often overlooked for more popular cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. However, its central location and easy access to and from the major cities make it a perfect destination for a day trip or an overnight stay.

In this guide to the city, we bring you on a tour of the most iconic sights to give you an unforgettable 24-hour journey in Nagoya!

 

How to get there

Image
nagoya-day-trip

Nagoya is easily accessible from either Tokyo or Osaka through the JR Tokaido Shinkansen. From Tokyo, the Nozomi trains take about 100 minutes, the Hikari train takes about 110 minutes, and the Kodama trains take three hours.

From Osaka, the Nozomi trains only take 50 minutes to reach Nagoya, while the Hikari and Kodama trains take between 55 and 70 minutes. If you are traveling with the Japan Rail Pass, do note that the travel pass is only valid for Hikari and Kodama trains.

 

Where to stay

Image
nagoya-day-trip

If you’re looking to spend the night in Nagoya, plenty of options are available near Nagoya Station. Travelers on a budget should check out Via Inn Nagoya Ekimae Tsubakicho (JR West Group), just four minutes on foot from the Taiko exit of Nagoya Station. Featuring semi-double rooms for just 53 USD a night, this clean and fuss-free hotel is one of the biggest value-for-money options.

Don’t mind forking out a little extra for something more luxurious? The Nagoya JR Gate Tower Hotel is directly connected to the station and has an incredible cityscape view. For a more stylish option, check out Lamp Light Books Hotel Nagoya, just three minutes from Fushimi station on foot. The hotel is connected to a 24-hour book cafe on the ground floor, allowing you to travel the world of books in the comfort of your own room.

 

Morning: History awaits at Nagoya Castle

Image
nagoya-day-trip

Start your day off with a visit to one of Nagoya’s most iconic sites, the Nagoya Castle. The castle was originally built in 1615 by the Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu himself. Even though much of the castle was destroyed due to air raids in 1945, it was designated a National Historic Site and has been reconstructed to its former glory.

Nagoya Castle comprises four main areas with different highlights, such as the Hommaru Goten, the castle’s main palace, and the beautiful Ni-no-maru Garden. Hommaru Goten was recently rebuilt using traditional construction materials and techniques and is regarded as one of the pinnacles of Shoin architecture.

Meanwhile, the Ni-no-maru Garden and tea ceremony are a must-visit for any nature-loving traveler. Nagoya Castle is one of the most popular destinations to experience Japan’s famous four-season foliage in action. During the Nagoya Castle Spring Festival, around 1000 cherry trees of 10 different species start to bloom, creating a magical environment adorned by gorgeous sakura (cherry blossoms). Summer ushers in a bloom of hydrangeas and irises, while autumn brings an incredible view filled with bright red and yellow leaves.

You can easily spend all morning walking around the castle grounds and admiring the architecture and serenity. Once you’re hungry, head to Kinshachi Yokocho right outside the main gate, where a traditional Edo-style street full of katsu, tempura, and souvenirs awaits you. Alternatively, you can check out Misokatsu Yabaton, a restaurant that serves the Nagoya specialty misokatsu (fried Tonkatsu with a miso-based sauce).

 

Afternoon: Back to the future

Image
nagoya-day-trip

Nagoya is a treasure trove of interesting museums, but the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology stands out. Toyota, the Japanese car-making juggernaut, originated from Toyota City, right beside Nagoya. Curiously, the company started as a textile manufacturing company in the early 20th century. That would all change in 1933 when the company established its automobile department— and it has been a leader in technological innovations.

Visitors to the museum experience the industrial changes firsthand, from three-dimensional cloth weaving to imaginative future automobiles. The hands-on nature of the museum is an embodiment of one of Toyota’s key ethos— monozukuri or “making things”.

If automobiles are not up your alley, fret not! You can check out the Nagoya City Science Museum, famous for having the world’s biggest planetarium. The planetarium is in the Guinness Book of Records for its staggering diameter of 35 meters. Enjoy a screening of the hyper-realistic starry sky, or head to the Deep Freezing Lab for a simulation of sub-zero temperatures where you can catch the aurora overhead.

 

Evening: A shopping oasis

Image
nagoya-day-trip

Stroll along Sakae, Nagoya’s main downtown shopping district. With high-end retail stores, entertainment establishments, and restaurants, Sakae is the perfect way to soak in Nagoya’s nightlife. There are plenty of department stores/malls for you to explore in the area, such as Matsuzakaya, Mitsukoshi, LACHIC, and Skyle.

Once you’ve had your share of retail therapy, head over to the Chubu Electric Power MIRAI TOWER, located in the center of Hisaya Odori Park. The picturesque tower offers a 360-degree panoramic view at Sky Deck MIRAI 360, letting you gaze far across the mountain ranges of Mt. Ontake and Mt. Hakusan. Besides the observation deck, the tower also has virtual reality experience facilities, cafes, and a lounge area.

Another iconic landmark you should check out is Oasis 21, a giant spaceship-like structure that is lit up in an ever-changing colorful light show at night. The futuristic site is home to over 30 specialty shops and restaurants, and you can even take a stroll around the Spaceship Aqua dish at the top of the structure. Ending your day admiring the photogenic spot is a perfect way to cap off your 24-hour adventure in Nagoya.