The traveler’s guide to Nagoya

Nagoya Castle, photo by ka_tate on Flickr

Usually, when a city is described as an industrial hub, tourists will be automatically turned off – the phrase rarely conjures up images of tourist paradises. But Nagoya is the a true industrial powerhouse, and more than that, it is the city than invented pachinko, that ever popular Japanese game, and yet it manages to be one of the most attractive tourist cities in Japan at the same time. Nagoya is the fourth largest city in the country, and yet it has a more low key and laid back feel than Tokyo. The city was razed to the ground during WWII which means that there aren’t as many old historic sites as in other cities, and many travelers see it as just a stop on the bullet train, but give Nagoya a chance and you’ll discover that it has more than enough good sides. Here’s a traveler’s guide to Nagoya, for those who want to explore this interesting city.

Getting around

photo by Paul Davidson on Flickr

If you own a car or if you rented one, then you’ll be able to travel around Nagoya easier than you might think. The street network of Nagoya is well organized and it’s not difficult to find your way around the city. However, public transport is not quite as convenient as in other parts of Japan, and it’s a bit more expensive too. There are five subway lines, and the trains run until past midnight, which is great if you want to go out in the evening, and buses are good if you don’t need to travel great distances. Unlike in Tokyo, taxis in Nagoya are actually affordable, especially if you travel together with a few companions with whom you can split the bill.

Food

Nagoya has its own specialties that you absolutely must try when you’re in the city. Miso paste is a staple ingredients in several typical Nagoyan dishes, and the misokatsu (pork cutler in miso sauce) is pretty famous. If you’re on the run, grab a tenmusu, another local specialty – shrimp tempura wrapped in rice and seaweed, which you can eat like a sandwich. Other must-try delicacies in Nagoya are the kishimen, a type of noodle, the hitsumabushi, an eel and rice dish, and uiro, a sweet treat made from rice flour and sugar, similar to mochi. There are many budget restaurants and family restaurants where you can eat decent meals for affordable prices, but Nagoya is no stranger to fine dining either. Any traveler’s guide to Nagoya should mention restaurants like Garden Restaurant Tokugawa-en (which serves Japanese-French fusion cuisine) or Antica Roma, a superb Italian restaurant popular with Nagoya’s wealthier inhabitants.

Accommodation

photo by benjamin.krause on Flickr

Nagoya is very friendly towards backpackers and budget travelers when it comes to accommodation. There are many typically Japanese capsule inns and hotels in the city, and they are more comfortable than they sound despite the tiny size of the ‘capsules’. Hostel Ann Backpacker Inn and Toyoko Inn (which has six locations in Nagoya) are also a bargain, considering accommodation fees in Japan. There are several business hotels in the city center too, and although they are by no means luxurious, they have decent amenities and affordable prices. If you feel like splurging check out the Marriott, or other luxury hotels.

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