Planning a solo trip to Nagoya, Japan? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The largest city in the Chūbu region of Japan, with a population of around 2.3 million.
- The capital of Aichi prefecture developed during the Edo period under the ruling Tokugawa family, the city is now a major economic centre.
- The powerhouse is home to the headquarters of manufacturing giants Toyota, Daido Steel, Suzuki Motor, Honda Motor, Yamaha and many others.
- Nickname: Design City.
- Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY).
- Spoken languages: Japanese.
- Best time to visit: from March to September to make the most of the spring and summer weather. Witness hanami, the bloom of cherry blossoms, in March-April.
- Arriving via airport: Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) connects to the city centre through Meitetsu Nagoya Railroad with services including the Shinkansen bullet train, JR, Kintetsu and Nagoya subway lines with tickets dependent on distance. The airport shuttle bus delivers passengers to downtown for ¥1000 while taxis charge ¥12,000-16,000.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Nagoya hostel for solo travelers: Trip & Sleep. Exceptionally clean, with welcoming staff, and a great central location in the city – perfect for exploring. Close to Osu Market and the subway (metro). Make sure to book ahead, as there aren’t many hostel options in Nagoya.
- Downtown (or Sakae, as it is locally known) is where everything happens: lodging, dining, shopping, sight-seeing, etc.
- Visitors wanting a more idyllic backdrop to their vacation might want to base themselves in Nagoya Castle district (just to the north), where parks and gardens abound and the pace is slower.
- The eastern neighborhood of Chikusa is favored for its spiritual attractions, leisurely boulevards and shopping streets.
- Subway lines connect the 16 districts of Nagoya, while an efficient bus system provides above-ground connections to major destinations. Tickets combining the two methods of transportation cost ¥850 and include unlimited travel for the day.
- Taxis indicate red when available and green when taken; they run on meter with starting fee at ¥65. A typical ride from Nagoya Station to Nagoya Castle costs ¥1000. Dial 871-0601 or 231-3027 to book.
- Drinking age is 20, and last call is 4 AM.
- Nishiki and Sakae have a selection of bars and nightclubs that attract partygoers from all over the city, especially over the weekend.
- Fushimi blends the café and restaurant scene for the hip crowd with a few choice nightclubs that feature DJ sets that last till morning.
- Nagoya Station offers laid-back pubs and bars that are popular among the after-work crowds.
- Great bars for travelers: Shelter Rock Bar, Bourbon Street, and Bar Barns.
- Looking for clubbing? Head straight to T2 Nagoya.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Built in the Edo period, the Nagoya Castle is the star attraction of the city. It is unmistakable in its central perch and a prime location for the viewing of the cherry blossoms.
- Tokugawa Art Museum rises on the former feudal residence of the Tokugawa shogunate, its exhibits including a collection of samurai swords, Noh costumes and artwork from 960 AD.
- Toyota Automobile Museum showcases the motor corporation’s history with exhibits on past models and artwork.
- Atsuta Shrine is one of Shinto’s most important shrines, storing the sacred sword kusanagi of the imperial regalia, only accessible by the emperor and high priests.
- Nagoya TV Tower is the oldest in the country dating back to 1954. Two observation decks offer spectacular views of the city, with the Yoro Mountains visible on a clear day.
- Discover Meijo Park and its breath-taking views of Nagoya Castle.
- Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens are one of Asia’s largest attractions, combining a botanical garden with an amusement park and zoo. Its Higashiyama Sky Tower warrants a visit for its observation deck and restaurant.
- Find the Garden Pier at the Port of Nagoya and take in its public aquarium, one of Japan’s biggest and most diverse; the floating Antarctic Museum aboard Fuji, the ship used in expeditions from the 1960s to the 1980s.
- Nagoya is the birthplace of Pachinko, the pinball game played on a vertical board.
- Want to meet people in Nagoya? See what social events are on (organized by Small World Japan).
- Local culinary delights include misokatsu (fried pork cutlet with a rich miso sauce), ebi-furai (deep fried prawns) and uirō (Japanese steamed cake made of rice flour).
- Great restaurants to try: Shougen (authentic local cuisine), Yamamotoya Okute (for udon), Mughal Palace (Indian), hotspice mucho chicken tacos (Mexican), Salad Bowl Sakae (vegetarian/vegan), en-kitchen Cafe (Vegan).
- Hungry and not sure where to go? Just find the nearest Misokatsu Yabaton (always a reliable choice in town).
- Where to find good cheap eats: Naka-ku offers plenty of food stalls specializing in local delicacies to satisfy any budget and palate. Head to Yanagibashi Central Market for delicious and affordable seafood. Craving kebabs? Head to ANADOLU. Local favorite: Inaya (big bowls of delicious noodles).
- Dangerous areas: none – Nagoya is generally very safe.
Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days