Nagoya, the 4th largest city of Japan, is often overlooked by travellers in favour of bigger cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. But according to Nagoya expert Lena Scheidler from Nagoya Foodie, a well-planned Nagoya itinerary should be high on your list when visiting Japan.
Why? One thing that makes Nagoya so appealing when you compare it to other places in Japan is the local food. Nagoya Meshi is a variety of dishes only found in the region around Nagoya. With delicious food and a number of unique attractions means Nagoya shouldn’t be skipped when creating a Japan itinerary.
Even if you visit the city only for one day, you will be able to gain a unique insight into the delicious regional food as well as visit fascinating sites like the Toyota Museum and the Tokugawa Art Museum.
The Ultimate Nagoya 1 Day Itinerary
Best Time to Visit Nagoya
Nagoya, like Tokyo and Osaka, is located on Japan’s biggest island Honshu with a subtropical climate.
That means hot and humid summers (July to September) with temperatures in the high 30s and temperate winters (December to February) with temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius.
While you can visit Nagoya all year round I don’t recommend a visit in summer as it is just too hot to enjoy walking around the city.
The best time to explore Nagoya is either in spring or autumn when the temperatures are comfortably warm.
How to Get to Nagoya
Nagoya is actually a great destination because of its location between Tokyo to the east and the Kansai Region, where Osaka and Kyoto are situated to the west.
It is an excellent place to stop over when travelling by train from one region to the other and can be visited as a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto or even Tokyo.
According to a famous travel quote by 17th-century Japanese poet Bashō Matsuo, “The journey itself is my home”.
Shinkansen bullet trains are the fastest option to get to Nagoya. From Tokyo it is a 120- minute ride, from Osaka it will take only 50 minutes.
Many travellers to Japan use a Japan Rail Pass to save money on train travel because the pass lets you travel on as many JR trains as you like in a given time period (1 to 3 weeks).
There is also an international airport in Nagoya which serves flights to many destinations in Asia but also convenient connections to Australia for example.
If you want to fly into Nagoya from Europe or America you will need to change flights somewhere.
How to Get Around Nagoya
Like all big cities in Japan Nagoya has an excellent infrastructure in the form of subways and buses.
If you stay in Nagoya for one day only I recommend you use the Meguru Tourist Bus as it will get you to most of the destinations mentioned in this Nagoya itinerary.
When you buy the Meguru Day Pass for 500 yen (5 US dollars) you will also receive discounts to attractions along the way, making this a very economical option.
Where to Stay in Nagoya
I recommend staying near Nagoya Station if you stay in the city for only one day, as it is the place from which you will enter and exit the city no matter what form of transport you choose to get to your next destination.
There are hotels for every budget close to Nagoya Station.
It is an internationally acclaimed hotel chain with some of the best hotels in the world.
The Nagoya Associa is directly connected to Nagoya Station and so it couldn’t be more convenient and of course, it offers many amenities for a thoroughly relaxing stay in Nagoya.
If you want something in the mid-range there are some comfortable hotel options available as well, such as the Meitetsu New Grand Hotel.
It is conveniently close to Nagoya station and offers many amenities at a reasonable price.
For the budget traveller, I recommend First Cabin TKP Nagoya Station.
Every traveller to Japan should experience a night at a capsule hotel at least once during their trip and Nagoya is a great place to experience this.
Nagoya 1 Day Itinerary
As most travellers usually only spend one day and one night in Nagoya, I have put together a Nagoya itinerary that will help you experience the highlights of Nagoya in a short amount of time.
Keep in mind there’s a lot more to experience in the city and you might want to check out these other things to do in Nagoya.
Breakfast: Komeda’s Coffee
Start the day with a local breakfast and if your hotel doesn’t provide one I recommend a short visit to Komeda’s Coffee.
This coffee chain is originally from Nagoya and serves exactly what everyone needs for a great breakfast: good coffee and freshly made bread at a reasonable price in a comfortable atmosphere.
I recommend you try a Nagoya Morning Service, the typical Nagoya style breakfast you can find at cafés all across the city.
For the price of one drink (usually coffee or tea) you get a slice of toast for free.
At Komeda’s you can choose whether you want a slice of toast with a boiled egg, with egg spread or with a spread made from sweet red beans.
You’ll find Komeda’s Coffee in many locations all over Nagoya, just type ‘Komeda’s Coffee’ into Google Maps and the closes coffee shop will pop up.
Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
From Nagoya Station, it is only a short ride to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology where you can learn about how the Toyota group started.
Toyota started out as a textile factory before it became one of the most well-known car manufacturers in the world.
So don’t be surprised to learn about the fundamentals of spinning and weaving and the development of spinning machinery at this museum.
The museum is actually fascinating, especially if you participate in a free guided tour (available in English or Japanese).
Of course, there is also a whole section about the history of Toyota as a car manufacturer.
From Toyotas beginnings and the first car being manufactured in Japan to the high tech use of robots for the production line today, you can learn so much at this museum.
Join the free guided tour available for this part of the museum, download the audio guide onto your phone or you simply read the explanations, which are all available in English as well.
Address: Noritake Shinmachi 4-1-35, Nishi Ward, Nagoya 451-0051 | Opening Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. closed Mondays | Entry Fee: 500 yen (20% discount with a Meguru Day Pass)
Nagoya Castle can be described as the birthplace of Nagoya. With its construction in 1615, a city naturally grew around the castle grounds which became Nagoya as we know it today.
The castle is a great place to learn about the history of the city through exhibits that are thoughtfully curated.
One of the highlights of Nagoya Castle is the recently renovated Hommaru Palace, where you can see what the castle would have looked like in the past, with beautifully painted walls and doors in every one of the tatami mat rooms.
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya 460-0031| Opening Hours: 9 am to 4 pm.| Entry Fee: 500 yen (100 yen discount with Meguru Day Pass)
Lunch: Misokatsu Yabaton
Just outside of Nagoya Castle is the newly opened food town called Kinshachi Yokocho where you will find the most famous foods from Nagoya like Miso Nikomi Udon (Udon noodles in a rich dark Miso soup), Hitsumabushi (grilled freshwater eel served on rice) and Tebasaki (chicken wings).
I recommend you try Miso Katsu, which is a pork cutlet served in a sauce made from red Miso.
Miso Katsu is one of the most famous dishes in Nagoya, and one of the staples the people from Nagoya really love.
The restaurant that makes the best Miso Katsu in Nagoya is called Misokatsu Yabaton and they have been making it for 70 years now.
Address: Sannomaru 1-2-5, Naka Ward, Nagoya 460-0001| Opening Hours: 10.30 am to 5 pm.
Tokugawa Art Museum and Tokugawaen
Dive even deeper into Japanese history by visiting the Tokugawa Art Museum, which will enlighten you.
At the museum, you will find many of the relics of the Tokugawa period including swords and armors, tea ceremony utensils and Noh theater masks.
The Tokugawa Art Museum is located on the grounds of the former residence of the Owari clan, the ruling family of Nagoya and a branch of the Tokugawa clan.
The museum is surrounded by a beautiful landscaped garden called the Tokugawaen, which is a nice place to relax in.
Tokugawaen Address: Tokugawacho 1001, Higashi Ward, Nagoya 461-0023 | Opening Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. closed Mondays| Entry Fee: 300 yen (60 yen discount with Meguru Day Pass)
Tokugawa Art Museum Address: Tokugawacho 1017, Higashi Ward, Nagoya 461- 0023| Opening Hours: 10 am to 5 pm closed Mondays| Entry Fee: 1400 yen (200 yen discount with Meguru Day Pass)
Osu Shopping Street
Don’t you think it’s time for some shopping?
In the Osu district of Nagoya, there’s a network of shopping streets where you will find second-hand shops selling old Kimono, Wagashi shops selling traditional Japanese sweets, clothing and shoe shops as well as local and international restaurants.
In recent years all that is hip, cute and popular has a shop in Osu – like rolled ice cream, bubble tea and colourful doughnuts – which makes this an insta-worthy place to visit.
What’s amazing about Osu is the underlying layer of history you can find here if you look for it.
Around every corner, there’s a little shrine or temple, garden or other places of historic significance, conveniently with a little plaque or sign explaining its importance in English.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to Osu Kannon one of the most important Buddhist temples in Nagoya on the west side of Osu district.
Your last stop of the day is Atsuta Jingu, the most sacred place in all of Nagoya.
The Shinto shrine precedes the city by hundreds of years.
It is believed to be almost 2000 years old and was mentioned in the first historic texts of Japan.
The shrine grounds are located in a beautiful little forest with a winding path leading from one sacred place to the next.
An opportunity to call on the gods and make a wish.
Atsuta Shrine is home to one of the three sacred treasures of Japan the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi which gives the Japanese emperor the right to rule. Unfortunately, it is not on display to the public.
Address: Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya 456-0031
Dinner: Hitsumabushi Ino
After so much walking, I suggest you find a nice restaurant to end the day.
If your hotel is close to Nagoya Station, check out Hitsumabushi Ino in the underground shopping street Esca on the west side of Nagoya Station.
Hitsumabushi is grilled freshwater eel served on rice and a real delicacy in Nagoya.
It is my favourite food, not only from Nagoya but from Japan in general and in my opinion, every traveller to Nagoya should try Hitsumabushi once.
Address: Esca Underground Shopping Street 6-9, Tsubakicho, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya 453-0015 | Opening Hours: 11am to 930pm.
Lena Scheidler is in love with Japanese food and she wants to share this love with all travellers to Japan. Her home Nagoya has a lot to offer in terms of travel and unique food culture which she shares with the world on her website Nagoya Foodie.