From Mie Guidebook
Nagoya (名古屋) is a biiig town with thousands of restaurants, bookshops, bars, clubs, karaoke joints, everything you can imagine. Here's a small sampling of what's available for those in the Ken feeling city-starved.
Getting There from Mie
Incoming trains from Mie arrive at Nagoya Station. This is a massive complex with several department stores, endless restaurants, etc. - you can play here if you just want to shop and can't be bothered travelling to other parts of Nagoya.
The other main gaijin centre of gravity, as well as nightlife and shopping central, is Sakae. To get here you take the Higashiyama subway line (yellow line) two stops east from Nagoya Station to, funnily enough, Sakae Station (only takes a few minutes, ¥200). You'll find yourself in a nest of more underground shopping malls - best to head up to street level to work out where the hell you are (unless there's a typhoon on). (You can also use Yabachō subway station for the south of the Sakae shopping area, but getting there from Nagoya station requires changing lines so it's a bit of a pain.)
Ōsu-Kan'non is another cool area with the famous-ish Ōsu-Kan'non temple, and seems to be where the funky people who can't afford Sakae hang out. Subway: Ōsu-Kan'non; see below for more details.
Nagoya International Association publishes a monthly English guide to what's on in Nagoya, including movies, events, classes, etc. - you can pick it up in Maruzen bookstore and various cafes/bars.
Getting Around Town
- All lines converge at Nagoya station. JR also runs some trains across town, useful if you're going to Kanayama or some other places. Day trips from Nagoya will also all start here.
- Definitely the best way to get around Nagoya - there's a subway map in the back of the JET diary.
- Don't try getting around Nagoya on local buses unless you have to. The long-distance bus centre is at Nagoya station, with buses to everywhere you can imagine.
Things to See
There's not that much of interest in Nagoya itself, but here's a selection of the best.
- The view from the 52nd floor of the JR Towers at the station is great - you can see all the way to Mt. Asama in Ise on a good day, and probably as far as Kuwana and Yokkaichi on a not-so-clear day if you feel like parting with roughly ¥2000. The new Midland Towers, near Nagoya Station, also has a good view for free albeit from a slightly lower height.
- Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮 atsuta jingū) - Subway: Jingū-nishi
- A spiritually important Shinto shrine, but was rebuilt after the war so is a less exciting than older ones. It's in a nice park though. Said to house a sword that is one of Japan's three ancient imperial treasures (the other two are in Ise and the Imperial Palace, respectively).
- Nagoya Castle (名古屋城 nagoya-jō) - Subway: Shiyakusho or Meijō-kōen
- Rebuilt after the war, it's also in a nice park. Good at cherry-blossom time.
- Ōsu-Kannon (大須観音) - Subway: Ōsu-Kannon
- A famous temple worth a look if you're going there to shop or hang around with the funky people. The shopping area has it's own flavour, it is a bit like the Akihabara of Nagoya, with its Lolita-clothes girls, host-hair boys, street food stalls, and vintage clothing shops. It's great for people-watching, but also amazing for cheap nice vintage clothes, interesting fashions (including those jackets with sakura and "Japan" embroidery that make you think of "yankees" zipping around on their bikes around town). There is a big arcade, 2 ABC shoe stores, a great shop for langerie with very friendly oneesans who help you find the right size, a hostess clothing shop (but only if you are a small size, those dresses are tight), a store with leather and silver goods like wallets, a funky eyeglasses shop, and of course Komehyo. Komehyo is a chain of stores, there are three in Osu. One carries musical instruments and cameras (new and used, at decent prices, and they ship too). The other, next to it, carries new yukatas, used kimonos and obi (for a very affordable price for some of them), as well as accessories such as sandals (zori?), handbags to be worn with kimonos, hair accessories, etc. The obis can be used for home-decorating projects given their low price. There are also some dresses, including wedding dresses, so if you wear a small size you may find a gorgeous used dress for 1 man. The third shop, a 6-floor building, has the following used (and new) items: jewelry (floor 1), watches (floor 2 or 3), designer items (bags, accessories, clothes), ladies fashions (used and new, including new lingerie, floor 4) men's fashions (floor 5), and a yen = gram store with ladies and men's fashions. The latter shop has 4 sections, with 1 yen = 1 gram (or 0.5 for special campaigns), 2 yen = 1 gram, 3 yen = 1 g, 4 yen = 1 g. Many of the items are designer labels such as the "Private Label", "Cecil McBee", and other mid-range designer clothes found in department stores. They carry jackets, sweaters, scarves, handbags, and shoes in addition to clothes.
- Nagoya Aquarium (名古屋水族館 nagoya suizokukan) - Subway: Nagoyakō
- At Nagoya Port, is not as good as Osaka's but is newish and worth a look if you're into your dolphins, whales, etc.
- Noritake Park
- Good if you're interested in porcelain/ceramics, 10 mins walk north of Nagoya station. There's some old rebuilt portions of the Noritake factory and lots of displays of their work, both old and new. You can even make and fire something yourself - they'll post it to you when it's done.
Day Trips from Nagoya
Inuyama is around 30 mins from Nagoya station on the Meitetsu line. It's a small town with a perfect castle commanding a great view. There's also a national treasure garden, Uraku-en, with a famous old teahouse (Jo-an), all listed in the Lonely Planet. The castle is well worth the visit - get off the train at Inuyama or Inuyama-yuen, you can't miss it.
Elsewhere, Meiji-mura is a town-sized recreation of Meiji-era buildings which can make an amusing day-trip. You can get a bus from the Meitetsu bus centre at Nagoya station. Entry is around 1600 yen.
You can get to Takayama in the Hida district for a weekend. Takayama is a beautifully preserved town which escaped WWII - old streets, rivers, temples, old samurai and merchant houses, etc. It's 2 hours 15 minutes from Nagoya by JR limited express, 5670yen, or roughly 5 hours by normal express for 3260yen. You can easily see the sights in a weekend stay. There are several hostels and cheap ryokans.
There's far too much of it to list in full. In Sakae, the main road running south of the station (Otsu-dori) has Mitsukoshi, Melsa, Skyle, Parco, La Chic, Matsuzakaya, and endless other big buildings full of endless shops. It also has big-name foreign clothes stores like Benetton, Gap, Zara, etc. and cafes to boot. See map link above.
Just west of the station, on Hirokoji-dori just past Maruei dept store, is the unbeatable Maruzen bookstore, as well as Meidi-ya foreign foods store - yum.
This area also has Loft (look for the big yellow sign), a fun department store with stylish goodies, and endless Starbucks outlets. Muji is in the basement of Melsa, and UniQlo is on the 6th or 7th floor of same. There's a big HMV store spread over the 3rd and 4th floors of Skyle.
Also in Sakae check out Sakura Apartments, a small complex of shops run by young designers etc. with a funky atmosphere. Turn right (west) off Otsu-dori at the 3-floor shoe store (almost opposite Parco) and it's a few doors down on the left.
At Nagoya station, all the department stores and malls are full of the usual stuff. At the top of Takashimaya dept store, the most expensive of them all, is quite a good English-language book section if you can't be bothered going to Maruzen in Sakae. Takashimaya also incorporates an 8-floor Tokyu Hands for all your sporting, outdoor, lifestyle-ish needs. There's also a foreign food store outside, between the Meitetsu and Kintetsu areas.
Osu-Kannon has endless cheaper shops for locals, including lots of second-hand clothes stores, spreading through covered malls immediately east of the temple. You can find these malls by heading into the temple grounds - they adjoin the east side. There are also lots of cool cafes - watch out for ERIC, 100 metres north of the north exit from the temple grounds. A few blocks east, in the eastward expanse between Osu-Kannon and Sakae/Yabacho, is an electronic goods area akin to a (much) smaller version of Akihabara in Tokyo - good for cameras, phones, computers & peripherals. There's also an all-things-Okinawa shop, near the game centre & Mr Donut.
For books, see above. For magazines, JETs recommend going to Tower Records (Parco in Sakae, or Kintetsu Pass'e at Nagoya station) or HMV in Sakae - cheaper than the bookstores.
Also recommended by JETs is Don Quixote, "a massive place that is like a maze inside, and they carry everything. From sneakers to watches, from bath towels to car stereos, from vitamins to Hello Kitty 'massaging devices', they have it! Prices were quite reasonable." Directions: "Very near the JR Otoubashi station, which is aparently very near the old baseball staduim (not Nagoya Dome)." Kanji: 尾頭橋. Just before Kanayama on the JR line.
Another food store: "Hallo 2. This is like an exploded Meidi-ya. Difficult to get to. Take the Higashiyama line to Issha station. Go out. You are standing at a crossroads. Take the two lane street in an uphill direction. Walk past three street lights. Turn right. It's right there on the left. Cool place. About a 15 minute walk (and maybe 25 minute subway ride from Nagoya station)."
Food and Drink
Nagoya has lots of good food plus a quite a few local specialties. The easiest thing to do is turn up in Sakae and follow your nose.
- The izakaya down the stairs next to Maruzen bookstore. Cheap, good.
- Next to the Starbucks which is next to Loft, is an excellent upscale izakaya at good prices; it does amazing things with tofu (and everything else).
- Across the street from Parco, on the street with a Lawsons on the corner is a really cool (read: good for dates) place called Garuba (or maybe Garuva). It is a little hard to find, but the Lawsons on the corner is on the main drag, and the front door is an imposing big studded thing, very cool. Food is sort of pan-asian, if that really means anything. Whatever, the good food, decent prices, and really cool laid back atmosphere (all the tables are on the floor in these crazy Arabian Nights-esque tent pavilions) make it worth a visit. The only thing is, the food and the atmosphere clash a bit, because it's strange eating pasta or omuraisu in a candle-lit tent, but it's worth it for the experience.
- The experience/adventure part is this. First you have to find it (even with a GPS it might be a challenge but follow the directions above). Once you get there, you face a medieval-looking door. Inside, minus a few candles, it's pitch-black. You get to eat under a chiffon white tent, sitting on the floor, with lots of cushions, and your own candle lantern. It's very private, and can be a very intimate and exciting experience. They also have belly dance shows but you have to check their website ([] in Japanese) or call. It might be safe to make a reservation before you go.
- Cesari ([]) has a sit-down restaurant, a cafeteria-style pizza take-out (you can eat upstairs or in the bar next door), and a bar. They also accommodate parties and receptions, with comparable prices. They even have a very helpful wedding consultant if you are having your reception there.
- For the take-out you have to line up, because the place is very popular. The pizzas are delicious, and there is usually a seat in the cafeteria or the bar area.
- For the restaurant you also have to line up but it's better to make reservations in advance by calling them. The atmosphere is wonderful, romantic enough but casual enough. Waiters, all dressed up, come to pour your water or drinks, but it feels very relaxed, no pressure about which fork and which spoon to use next. The food is delicious. They have a choice of pizzas, pastas, and salads, other side items, desserts, and a number of courses to choose from. The taste is excellent, and no wonder why people line up for so long to get inside.
- The bar also has a very relaxed atmosphere.
- This is Moroccan restaurant ([]) is within walking distance from Shin-Sakae station. It is a bit on the expensive side, but the food tastes great. They have belly dance shows regularly (check their website for the schedule), and while you have to pay extra for the show (if you are there during show times, you have to pay), it's worth it because the dancers are excellent. They also host a number of other events, including English-friendly ones, and they have a mailing list that you can sign up to if you wish.
- The lights are pretty low, and the atmosphere is casual and festive. The seating is in two long rows of tables along the walls, they use the middle isle as a dancing isle during the show. It may be a good idea to come 30 minutes or more before the show, order and start your meal, so that you can enjoy your show when you are not as hungry anymore. Reservations are recommended, especially on the dance nights.
- The place to go for Miso Katsu ([]) a delicious Nagoya-born version of the classic Japanese dish. You can order a set meal for around 1,600 yen which includes big piece of said katsu, miso and rice. Green tea is served free but they also have a drinks menu with beer etc. Yabaton is a chain but there is one in the Meitetsu department store next to Nagoya Station (directly above the kintetsu line). Tends to get very busy and you may have to sit at the counter if you are alone or if you are a couple next to another couple at a table for four. The miso katsu is delicious and very filling. Good for a meal out with friends or for when you're touring Nagoya gourmet.
There are three useful cinemas in Sakae and four or five around the Nagoya Station area. For a full English guide to current movies playing in English, plus session times, plus maps to the cinemas, see www.nagoyamovies.com
The main art galleries are the [eng1.htm Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts (subway or JR: Kanayama), the Nagoya City Art Museum in Shirakawa Park (subway: Fushimi), and the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art near Sakae station. All have permanent collections and great exhibitions from overseas. Their English websites (linked above) have maps, exhibition info, times, etc.
There are lots of small galleries in Nagoya too. Look for ads on the subway and the Kintetsu, or pick up the monthly guide as mentioned above.
The Loft building in Sakae also houses the Design Museum, which is reputedly cool.
The Nagoya Players are an expat theatre group who put on regular plays in English. For listings see the International Association's monthly guide or check other mags in Nagoya.
There's a Salsa club called Macondo in Sakae, directions: "near Loft, the sign is orange and in romaji, and its on the 4th or 5th floor".
Nagoya has squillions of bars, karaoke joints, clubs, you name it. Well-known gaijin bars (Aussie, Irish, American, etc.) are advertised in all the free gaijin mags you can pick up in Nagoya, including maps, so we won't detail them here. One online directory is http://www.japan-zine.com. Check them out.
Sakae is the main nightspot, and has all the usual chain suspects plus countless others.
JoyJoy's is a well-recommended cheapish karaoke chain, with venues everywhere.
- Kikuko's Nagoya Information
- For incredible listings of events, festivals, concerts, plus detailed maps of many areas in Nagoya, check out the regularly updated handiwork of the amazing Kikuko. It also has maps of the area and more.
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