Getting around in Nagoya

photo by hawk684 on Flickr

Nagoya is not your regular Japanese tourist destination: it is industrialized, dense, large, and yet it is utterly charming. Despite being one of the largest cities in Japan, there are spots in Nagoya that feel just like a small town, with the same sense of peace and community. But head to the city center, to the nightlife, entertainment and shopping area, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of an amazing tangle of traffic, people, billboards and non signs. Nagoya is more relaxed than Tokyo though, and even its more crowded areas feel less stifling than the capital. However, this is still the fourth largest city in Japan, so getting around can be a bit of a challenge if you haven’t mastered the intricacies of Japanese public transport yet. Here are some tips on getting around in Nagoya that might come in handy.


photo by Benjamin Krause

On the whole Nagoya is split into sixteen districts, but this distribution is not very important from a tourist’s point of view, since many of them are simply residential. However, there are three parts of Nagoya where you will surely end up as a traveler: Sakae, the downtown district, Nagoya Castle district, and Nishiki District,the upmarket part of the city. Sakae is home to major businesses and shopping areas, as well as dozens of hotels and entertainment venues. Since there’s a subway line linking Sakae to Nagoya Station, this part of town is easy to access. the Castle District is located north of Sakae, and centered around the castle, but it is home to attractions like the Noh Theater or Meijo Garden too. Nishiki is seen as a rather posh side of Nagoya, with lots of places to dine and drink. The port area is also interesting, while not really a tourist attraction, but still an essential part of Nahgoya’s identity.

Subway lines

There are five main subway lines in Nagoya that can allow you to get around the city for affordable prices and without much hassle. The purple Meijio Line runs in the eastern part of the city, through Sakae and eventually the Port District through the Meiko line. The Sakuradori line goes southwest from Nagoya Station, and the Higashiyama line connects Sakae to Fushimi and other districts. The blue line is Tsurumai line, connecting Fushimi to Osu Kannon districts. Subway transport is slightly more expensive than in Tokyo and other major cities, but if you buy a one day pass you can save some money. Besides, one day passes on subway and bus grant you free entry to Nagoya Castle and Toyota Museum.


photo by Paul Davidson on Flickr

Although taxis should be a last resort in Tokyo, where they are insanely expensive, they are actually affordable in Nagoya. Since the last subway leaves at half past midnight, if you stay out late you might have to use taxis to get back to your hotel. And since Nagoya is a huge automotive center, the street network is very well organized, and driving or taking a taxi is not a bad idea.

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