Home proud Nagoya, birthplace of Toyota and pachinko, is a manufacturing powerhouse. Although Nagoya's GDP tops that of many small countries, this middle child has grown accustomed to life in the shadow of its bigger brothers, Tokyo and Kansai. Despite the shackles of industry, Nagoya has cosmopolitan aspects, including some fantastic museums, significant temples and great shopping. Parks and green spaces in the inner wards are prevalent and well maintained. In general, locals take pride in the homely character of this friendly city.
Nagoya is located in the centre of the largest fertile plain in the region, between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka, on the Tōkaidō shinkansen line. It's the gateway for journeys north into Chūbu's big mountain heart and a great base for day trips: factory visits, ceramic villages and cormorant fishing are on the radar.
All lines lead to 'Meieki', a hybrid terminus of the JR and private Meitetsu and Kintetsu lines, as well as subway and bus stations. Here you'll find a labyrinthine world of passageways, restaurants and retailers, and above, the soaring JR Central Towers and Midland Square complexes. Be sure to leave enough time if making a transfer.
East of the station, Sakura-dōri, Nishiki-dōri and Hirokōji-dōri (from north to south) are the three main drags, intersected first by Fushimi-dōri then Otsu-dōri. The majority of the mainstream action is found within this grid. Just east of Otsu-dōri is the long and narrow Hisaya-ōdōri-kōen (aka Central Park), Nagoya's much loved Eiffel-esque TV Tower and the wacky Oasis 21 complex. Following Otsu-dōri north will get you to the castle, while the vibrant Ōsu district, Atsuta Jingū shrine and bustling Kanayama station area, are to the south.
Nagoya's excellent English signposted subway services all the hotspots – Fushimi and Sakae stations are your mainstays for shopping, accommodation and nightlife.
Nagoya destination guides
Nagoya Castle and Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
Combine two cultural highlights of Japan on this half-day tour with a local guide. Visit Nagoya Castle and see its seven-story exhibit, including art and artifacts from the Tokugawa era of the 17th century. Then, head to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology for an in-depth look at textile machinery and automotive production.