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Travel Guide to Nagoya, "The Land of Surprises"

Nagoya Travel Guide Budget Itinerary 2017

Planning a trip to Nagoya, Japan? This Nagoya Travel Guide will help you plan your trip to Japan by giving you useful information on Nagoya's tourist spots and attractions, where to stay, where to eat, when is the best time to visit, how to get there, where to shop, contact persons for tours, itinerary, and a lot more.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide 2017

Text and photos by Gretchen Filart Dublin

As someone who writes and travels for work, it is sometimes easy for awe to wane. Soon, a beach is just a beach. A temple is just a temple.

When I traveled to Japan at the tail end of the sakura season, I wasn't expecting to be swept off my feet. After all, we weren't headed for futuristic Tokyo or tourist-heavy Kyoto. We were to explore a city that's perceived as sleepy; whose name comes from the word “peaceful”: Nagoya.

But pleasant surprises happen. Nagoya is full of them.

An economic hub, Nagoya is among Japan's primary ports and is the capital of Aichi prefecture, which is best known for its natural parks. The attractions are extremely diverse, and the people and the weather, lovely.

Check out some of the reasons why Nagoya surprised me – the stays, the eats, and other fun facts. You might be surprised too.


Places to See (Nagoya Tourist Spots)


Travel note: Except for the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, you can do two or more attractions in one day using a chartered bus. Contact person for tour assistance is written at the bottom.

1. Kariya Highway Oasis


Which amusement park receives the third biggest visitor arrivals in Japan? It's Kariya Highway Oasis. Famous with car-driving visitors, this integrated attraction hosts several food concessions, including a shop specializing in Ebi-Senbei, a popular snack in Japan. Food is cheap and the selection is diverse. Many repeat visits come from neighboring locals, who go here to enjoy the amusement park and hot spring.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

2. Magome-juku


Relive the Edo period with a scenic walk through Magome-juku's cobblestone streets. Magome in Nakatsugawa is one of Japan's historic post towns, with all types of traveler accommodations back in the day: Honjin (acccommodation for feudal lords), Waki-Honjin (sub accommodation for feudal lords), and Hatago (for commoners). Although the route is rather steep, it was favored by travelers because it remained unaffected by floods brought on by surrounding rivers.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

The town lies on the Nakasendo, an old highway that connects Kyoto and Tokyo (formerly known as Edo). It served as a passage for princesses traveling between the two cities.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Today, Magome is lined with residences, souvenir shops, museums, and tea houses -- all of which retain Edo's old charm.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

3. Matsumoto Castle


Matsumoto is home to one of only five castles in Japan that's considered a national treasure: Matsumoto Castle. The 400-year old castle was originally built by the Ogasawara clan, one of the most powerful Samurai clans in Japan, to help defend families during war. Each floor of the five-storey castle was designed to serve a purpose. The third floor, a window-less dark room, can be used for targeting enemies through small holes on the walls. The entire floor is not visible from the outside, making the castle look like it's only five stories high when it is actually six.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Before heading to your hotel, don't forget to take a relaxing stroll through the beautiful Matsomoto town.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

4. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route


Spend your first snow at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. This mountain destination cuts across the Hida and Tateyama Mountains and the Kurobe River, affording visitors a spectacular view of pine and snow-covered mountains during spring and winter. Along the way, you will walk through Kurobe Dam, the tallest in Japan and one of the country's major hydroelectric power plants.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

The most awaited part of the Alpine Route is Murodō, the highest point in the route. Getting to this point takes a series of on-and-off transport – all included in the Tateyama Kurobe package – including an aerial lift via the Tateyama Ropeway, which affords visitors an encompassing view of the mountain ranges.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

At 2,450 meters above sea level, Murodō offers several hiking trails of varying difficulty. The most famous, however, is the snow corridor through whick buses pass going to Bijodaira. The corridor is open for visitors to walk on and is flanked by 20-meter high snow walls on either side. The snow corridor is open till June 22. The walls melt during summer and is inaccessible during winter.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

5. Shirakawa-go historic village


Along with Gokayama, Shirakawa-go is among Japan's most famous UNESCO Heritage sites. The historic village features Gassho-style farmhouses spanning Gifu to Toyama, and whose slanted thatched roofs resemble hands in prayer. The houses look fascinating in winter when they are covered in snow. They are spread across 68 hectares of an isolated valley fringed by the Sho River and forested mountains, most notably Mt. Hakusan, a site for religious worship.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Some serve as ryokan, while some like the Wada House, are museums. Also called Wada-ke House, this 300—year old house is the largest Gassho house in Shirakawa-go. It served as an official guard station in 1790.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

6. Takayama City


The mountainous city of Takayama once served as the seat of Edo administration in 1692 to 1868. The old government building still stands today, replete with pottery and other wares used by officials and their families. A walk through the one-storey building reveals the simple architecture of old Japan and the many rooms from where revolutionary ideas sprung forth. The most chilling part of the structure, however, is a room where criminals were tortured. The implements used for such activity are on display.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

7. Gujo City/Gujo Hachiman


If you require an authentic Japanese cultural experience, head to Gujo Hachiman in Gifu. This riverside town is known for its clean waterways and dance festivals, Gujo Odori, which you can learn at the Gujo Odori Preservation Society.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Take a walk through the old town to see just how pristine Gujo's canals are. The canal lies along the road, next to residential properties, and it is a surprise how the communities has kept the water clean enough that they can use it for washing dishes and their laundry – a practice since the 1600s. Strolling across town, you will come across locally run wine and tea shops.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Want something more out-of-the-ordinary? Head to one of many food replica facilities in Gujo. The city remains as Japan's top producer of fake food models (Asahi), which are used for restaurant displays. In these facilities, you will be allowed to create fake food yourself (with demo, of course) using plastic, resin, and artificial colors.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

8. Winter illumination at Nabana no Sato


Spanning over one acre, Nabana no Sato is the one of the largest botanical gardens in Japan. It contains a temperature-controlled greenhouse for roses and life-size begonias. Cosmoses, tulips, and dahlias fill the complex. During winter, these flowers are decorated with colorful LED lights for the winter illumination. The illumination is held annually and is the longest running of its kind in the country (since 2009).

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Millions of flower-shaped LED lights are lit up during this time, forming a running river over the pond and a manmade tunnel that looks like a thousand stars abovehead.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

There's also Island Fuji, an enclosed ride that goes up 45 meters and spins around for a 360-degree vista of Nagoya, Ise Bay, and the park itself.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

9. TOYOTA Commemorative Museum of Industry


Discover how automobile giant Toyota started from just a spool of thread to the world's biggest car manufacturer. At the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry, visitors get to see the evolution of Toyota from a textile firm in the early 1900s to an international car producer through guided demonstrations on textile looms and automobile creation, plus a look at Toyota's partner robot, which plays violin. A collection of Toyota and Lexus models are on display too.

See also:
THINGS TO DO IN JAPAN: Toyota Museum and Plant Tour in Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

10. Legoland


Legoland is Japan's first outdoor Legoland park. Opened in April 2017, it features 17 million LEGO® blocks, arranged in seven areas and more than 40 attractions, including Japanese cityscapes and a castle.

11. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park


The SCMAGLEV and Railway Park tells the history of the world's fastest bullet train: Shinkansen. Thirty nine real railway models are on display in this JR Central-operated railway museum, including the first Shinkansen up to the latest model. Guests will learnthe technology behind Japan's bullet train with railway dioramas, train cab simulators, and other manually operable games.

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

Nagoya Japan Tourist Spots and Attractions

ALSO READ: 10 Best Things to Do in Nagoya, Japan

Where to Stay?


Travel notes:
  • Hotels in Japan are compact but well-furnished.
  • You can expect that your room will have a bath tub, yukata (Japanese-style robe), towels, and Japanese toiletries.
  • If you are smoker, you can request smoking rooms. For non-smokers, be sure to request a non-smoking one (sometimes they tend to overlook that part).
  • You will always find a kettle in your room and green tea sachets.

1. Hotel Buena Vista Matsumoto


If you're going around Matsumoto City, Hotel Buena Vista in Nagano offers a restful stay. Rooms are equipped with a work desk facing snow-capped mountains and the city. Sunsets are specially dramatic here, either from your room or from the park in front.

Hotels in Matsumoto City Japan

There are four international restaurants on site, including Japanese and Chinese restaurants, and Sorpresa, a French dining facility on the 14th floor where buffet breakfast is served. The buffet breakfast and dinner are among the best I've had in Nagoya.

Hotels in Matsumoto City Japan

Location: Matsumoto City
Wifi: Free
Website: http://www.buena-vista.co.jp/en/


2. APA Hotel Toyama Ekimae


After a hectic day at the Tateyama Alpine Route, sink down to a comfortable bed at APA Hotel Toyama Ekimae. Rooms are furnished with essential amenities for business travelers, including work desk, pay- per-view movies, and a fridge. Some also have a view of Mt. Tateyama. Buffet breakfast is available downstairs.

Hotels in Toyama Ekimae Japan

Location: Toyama City
Wifi: Free
Website: https://www.apahotel.com/hotel/hokuriku/02_toyama-ekimae/english/

Hotels in Toyama Ekimae Japan

3. Business Hotel Gujo Hachiman


Situated in a quiet suburban town, Business Hotel Gujo Hachiman is best for budget travelers who prefer accommodations near the Gujo Hachiman train station (only 5 minutes away). Rooms, though compact, are homey and provide a good view of the mountains in Gujo. Nearby, you will find various retail shops including a video game shop and Family Mart, all within a short walk. Be sure to bring a Japanese dictionary though, since the owners (who also man front desk) can't speak English.

Hotels in Gujo Hachiman city Japan

Location: Gujo Hachiman city
WiFi: Free, but spotty

Hotels in Gujo Hachiman city Japan

4. Tokyo Daiichi Hotel Nishiki


Best for travelers who prefer a hotel within the Sakae area. A stay here puts you in close proximity to Nagoya City's best shopping centers, the Nagoya TV Tower, and buses that can take you to Osaka. Keep an eye for a 7-11 next-door since the hotel signage isn't that visible. Rooms are, by far, the biggest I've had in my stay in Nagoya, and offers complete amenities including cable TV, a fridge, a work desk, and electric kettle.

Hotels in Nagoya Japan

Location: Nagoya City
Wifi: With charge
Website: http://www-a.global.hankyu-hotel.com/nishiki/

Hotels in Nagoya Japan

Where to Eat?


Travel notes:
  • The Japanese curate food from anything they deem edible. So expect to taste a lot of bizarre dishes with seafood and vegetables, ranging from a little weird to disgusting. For example, we were served tiny, raw octopus, and raw squid with mustard and gelatin in one plate.
  • If you’re out in a formal Japanese dining facility, rice is served last. The set meals can be expensive, around 20,000 yen and up, and includes mostly vegetables and broth. You will rarely see fried food and the usual Japanese dishes we've grown up with like tempura and tonkatsu. Fortunately, there is always sashimi.
  • What dessert? Dessert is not that popular here.
  • Unlike the Philippines, it's rare to see a restaurant in Japan that has juices and soft drinks in the menu. They don't have it on display either. You will aways be served hot tea, as it is the norm in Japan.

1. Kariya Highway Oasis


A hawker-style integrated attraction at the side of the highway, Kariya Highway Oasis features authentic Japanese meals that are also among the cheapest you will find in Nagoya. For example, you can buy a full breakfast and get unlimited hot tea as well for only 600 yen (around P270).

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

2. Magomeya


Located in Magome old town, Magomeya is an excellent stop after a stroll through Magome. The massive hall hosts both traditional washitsu (dining areas with just sunken tables and tatami mats to sit on) and seated dining. The set meal is filling, with lots of carbs and soups.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

3. Gomangoku


If you're looking for a little privacy with friends or family, head to Gomangoku in Toyama, a five-minute walk from APA Hotel. Hidden in a quiet street, Gomangoku offers private rooms that are good for about 12 to 16 people. Be sure to order the clean-tasting beef and tofu broth, which you will make yourself using a lamp.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

4. Irori


This small, unassuming dining place in Shirakawa-go fits those who prefer a casual dining experience. The room is rather small, with a maximum capacity of 40 seats. Set meals are simple, showcasing Japanese staples like rice, fish, and vegetables. Order Kobi beef. You won't regret it.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

5. Bizenya


If eating is a movie, Bizenya's set meal is a blockbuster. In this family-owned business in Gujo Hachiman, the food keeps coming until you can no longer stand up. Among its hits are its plated sashimi, snail, and beef broth. This is also where we ate raw squid with mustard and gelatin.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

6. Yoshidaya


Located in Gujo Hachiman's old town, a visit to Yoshidaya is best done at lunch, after visiting temples and the neighborhood. You can expect a lot of healthy food, with two pieces of oysters as the only meat.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

7. Kawasemi Japanese Restaurant


After a stroll, drop by Kawasemi Japanese Restaurant inside Nabana no Sato. This restaurant serves traditional Japanese set meals and good tempura.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

8. Hitsumabushi Nagoya Bincho


Best. Grilled. Eel. Ever.

Histumabushi is best known for its smoked eel, which you can eat four ways: Eat as is, eat with nori, eat with sprinkled onion, and then eat with broth.This famous restaurant is located in LaChic, so it's easy to go to after shopping at the mall or within the Sakae area.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

9. Kurobedaira


This is the only diner available after Kurobe Dam and all guests take their lunch here. Standard set meal (bento box) is served.

Nagoya Japan Travel Guide for Filipinos

Where to Shop?


1. Sakae Area


Sakae, Nagoya's downtown district, is home to various dining outfits and shopping malls such as LaChic and Matsuzakaya. There's also Sunshine Sakae – which features a ferris wheel - for coffee and theatrical performances. If you're buying souvenirs or take-home items for friends or family, be sure to visit Don Quijote from the street across Sunshine Sakae. Don Quijote offers all kinds of Japanese items, from food and grocery items to ref magnets and adult toys, spread across four floors.

Where to Shop Sakae Area JapanWhere to Shop Sakae Area Japan

2. Jazz Dream Nagashima


If you're on a hunt for branded bargain items, Jazz Dream Nagashima is the best place to go. This outlet mall houses a wide range of local and international shops, including those selling toys, F&B, shoes, and clothes. Well-known brands offer items for lower than you could purchase them at duty-free shops. For example, I saw a waterproof The North Face trekking shoes here for only 5,000 yen, or about P2,200+. If you are foreigner, you can also get a 10 percent discount on purchasesby simply presenting your passport upon payment (Foreign guests are tax-free. Does not apply to toys).

Nagashima Resort sits adjacent to the complex, making it convenient for you to experiene any of three rollercoasters before or after shopping.

Where to shop in Nagoya Japan

Where to shop in Nagoya Japan

Where to shop in Nagoya Japan

Best Time to Go?


Every season is a great time to go to Nagoya. Summer is great if you're afraid of the cold, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 28°C. You also get to enjoy different and vibrant foliage colors. In autumn, parks turn a beautiful gold. Winter, on the other hand, is suitable if you like skiing.

However, spring, especially on its last two weeks, is an unparalleled experience. Sakura or cherry blossoms are aplenty, and you can do hanami, or picnic under a blossoming sakura tree, practically anywhere – yes, even on the streets! It's also a good time to see the Winter Illumination at Nabana no sato, which happens till around the first week of May.

The weather is also nice during spring – neither too hot nor too cold. When we visited, it was verging on winter, but the average temp across Nagoya was around 5°C to 15°C, which is just like Tagaytay in December.

Layering of clothes is important if you are going somewhere . If you plan to go to the Alpine Route, be sure to wear two layers of leggings and bring a shell jacket since temperatures can plummer to 2°C in late afternoon.

Jetstar flies from Manila to Nagoya Japan

Getting In?


Jetstar offers daily multiple flights from Manila to Chubu Centrair Airport. Seated on an artificial island, it is the only airport that services international flights to and from Nagoya. It has domestic flights as well. This Skytrax Best Airport Award boasts a sweat-free, no-stairs-required design, and plenty of concessionaires, including Hello Kitty and Pokemon shops. There are trains and airport buses that can bring you downtown.

Flights to Nagoya Japam from Manila PhilippinesFlights to Nagoya Japam from Manila Philippines

For a 5-day tour, take a red eye flight at midnight out of Manila so you will arrive at past 5 am and be able to start your tour early. Check out the rates at www.jetstar.com.

Flights to Nagoya Japam from Manila Philippines

What time is it?


Japan Standard Time (JST) is UTC+9h, which means that it is one hour ahead of the Philippines. If you take the 8:00 pm flight from Japan to Manila, the flight takes 4 hours. But you will arrive in Manila at 11:00 pm.

Contact person for tours?


Our tour guide was Tomoyuki Ozaki of himawari.rollcabbage.com. This guy knows the ins and outs of Nagoya and will do everything and anything to make your trip most worthwhile. I say that with conviction.

Sample 5-day itinerary


Day 1:Flight to Nagoya/ Explore Matsumoto


12 am - Jetstar flight from Manila to Nagoya Chubu Centrair Airport (GK94)
5:35 am (JPY time) - Arrive at Chubu Centrair Airprt
6:30 am - Depart from Centrair for tour
10:00 am - Eat at Kariya Highway Oasis
10:30 to 12:30 pm - Visit Magome
12:30 pm - Lunch at Magomeya
2:30 pm to 4:30 pm - Visit Matsumoto
・National Treasure Matsumoto Castle
・Walk through the town
・Visit art museum
6:00 pm - Check-in at Hotel Buena Vista
- Dinner at hotel

Day 2: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route


8:45 am – Check out of hotel for Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
10:15 am – Arrive at Ogizawa Station; take trolley bus
10:30 am – Arrive at Kurobe Dam by trolleybus
12:30 pm - Lunch at Kurobedaira restaurant
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm – Walk through Tateyama Alpine Route
5:30 pm – Arrive at Tateyama Station for bus to Toyama
6:40 pm - Check in at APA Hotel Toyama Ekimae
7:00 pm - Dinner at Gomangoku

Day 3: Shirakawa-go + Takayama


8:30 - Hotel checkout; start of tour
10:00 am - Visit Shirakawago historic village (Shiroyama Observatory Deck, walk to the Wada House) 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm - Lunch at Irori
2:00 pm - Visit Takayama City
4:30 pm - See traditional street and old government building
- Depart from Takayama for Gujo Hachiman
5:30 pm - Check in at Business hotel Gujo hachiman
7:00 pm - Dinner at Bizenya

Day 4: Gujo Hachiman


8:50 – Hotel checkout; start of tour
9:10 am to 10:10 am - Asahi food sample making
10:10 am to 12:30 pm – Visit Gujo City
 Walk through the town
 Learn traditional Japanese dance
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm - Lunch at Yoshidaya
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm - Visit Jazz Dream Nagashima/ shop
5:30 pm-Visit Nabana no Sato
- Take a ride
- Dinner at Kawasemi Japanese Restaurant (Nabana no Sato)
- Winter illumination (7:00 pm onwards)
8:00 pm - Leave Nabana no Sato
9:00 pm - Check-in at the hotel in Nagoya

Day 5: Nagoya City/Sakae


9:15 am – Check out from hotel
9:30 am to 11:00 am -Visit TOYOTA Commemorative Museum of Industry
11:15 am to 12:30 - Lunch at LaChic (Hitsumabushi Nagoya Bincho)
12:30 pm to 2:30 pm - free time to shop at Sakae area/ Visit Nagoya TV Tower
3:00 pm to 4:30 pm - SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
5:15 pm – Arrive at Chubu Centrair Airport
8:15 pm – Jetstar flight back from Nagoya to MNL (GK95)

Nice-to-know Facts about Japan and the Japanese


  • The Japanese are honest. You may forget your belongings, but you can and expect to find them in the same place after hours. If there are instances of people taking something that is not theirs, it is almost always a tourist.
  • Zero crime. You won't encounter a robber, a hawker, or anyone similar even when you walk at night or at dawn. Japan is extremely safe.
  • Locals are out-of-this-world helpful and polite. If you stepped on somebody's toe, he/she will apologize for it.
  • It is normal to see male and female escorts in the Sakae area at night. They are harmless and are not nearly as pushy as hawkers in Boracay.
  • Toilet bowls in Japan built-in bidet and are heated. You throw your used tissue into the bowl. INTO, not in the bin.

See also:
HOW TO APPLY FOR A JAPAN TOURIST VISA IN THE PHILIPPINES (with List of Requirements and Steps in Application)

This Nagoya, Japan Travel Guide 2017 was written by Gretchen Filart Dublin of Filipina Explorer, Pinoy Adventurista's official representative to the Nagoya Familiarization Tour organized by Jetstar Airlines last April 24-28, 2017.


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