Nagoya is often overlooked as a travel destination by people planning a trip to Japan. As a local living in Nagoya, I have to say that is a mistake. In my opinion, every traveler to Japan should at least make a short stop in Nagoya.
If you do decide to do a brief stop in Nagoya here is my suggestion what to do in Nagoya in one day, including travel tips, things to do in Nagoya, as well as tips on what and where to eat in Nagoya.
1 Day in Nagoya Itinerary
Let’s talk about the things to do in Nagoya in 1 day. The below activities are in no particular order, just do what you feel like doing. You can find more things to do in Nagoya on my blog.
1. Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle is the birthplace of Nagoya. With its construction in 1615, the surrounding city started to develop and eventually became the industrial powerhouse it is today.
At Nagoya Castle, you can not only learn about the history of Nagoya and Japan but also admired the beautifully restored Hommaru Palace which features rooms with stunningly painted walls and doors.
2. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
The world-famous car maker Toyota had its origins in Nagoya, not as a car manufacturer but as a producer of textiles. You can visit the old textile plant in the center of Nagoya today and learn about the beginnings of Toyota at the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.
You can learn about the development of spinning and weaving machinery and of course the development of the first Japanese cars. There are interesting exhibitions on how Toyota became the biggest car manufacturer in the country.
3. Osu Shopping Street
A visit to Nagoya wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Osu district. Here you can shop for clothing and shoes but also eat at all kinds of restaurants, Japanese and international.
In recent years more and more shops catering to the young Instagram loving crowd have started to pop up in Osu. Shops that sell colorful bubble tea, donuts and rolled ice cream all have found their way to the Osu Shopping Streets.
Osu is also fascinating because of its underlying culture. At every corner, you can find an old shrine or temple, burial site or park. You just have to keep your eyes open and look beyond the main shopping arcades.
4. Atsuta Shrine
One of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan is located right in Nagoya. It is believed to be almost 2000 years old, and with that predates Nagoya city by hundreds of years.
Atsuta Shrine houses one of the three sacred treasures of Japan, the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi which gives the Japanese emperor the right to rule, as it was given to him by the most important god in the Shinto religion, the sun goddess Amaterasu.
While the sword, unfortunately, is not available for viewing by the general public, Atsuta Jingu is still a very serene place to visit, located in a small forest in the south of the city.
5. SCMaglev and Railway Park
If you are interested in the Japanese trains you cannot miss SCMaglev and Railway Park, the Railway Museum in Nagoya. Here you can learn about Japanese trains, from old steam locomotives to the fastest and most modern Shinkansen trains.
Another highlight is the train simulator where you can become the driver of a Shinkansen bullet train.
What to Eat in Nagoya
Now we are getting to the most important part of your visit to Nagoya, the food. Nagoya is actually a city famous for its delicious cuisine, called Nagoya Meshi (learn more about Nagoya Meshi in the Nagoya Food Guide). Ask any Japanese people what Nagoya is famous for and chances are they will tell you Nagoya Meshi is the reason to visit.
What to Eat in Nagoya for Breakfast
Start your day with a delicious Nagoya style breakfast at a coffee shop. I suggest Komeda’s Coffee, a staple of Nagoya this coffee shop does it all right. Delicious coffee and freshly made bread in a comfortable feel at home atmosphere.
When you order a beverage such as coffee or tea in the morning before 11 a.m. you will get a free slice of toast with either a boiled egg, egg spread or red bean spread for free. This is what the locals call a Nagoya Morning or Nagoya Morning Service. I suggest you try the toast with red bean spread, it’s called Ogura Toast and is another specialty of Nagoya.
You can find Komeda’s Coffee all over the city. Just put ‘Komeda’s Coffee’ in your Google Maps app and you will get the results closest to you.
What to Eat in Nagoya for Lunch
For lunch, I recommend something light and cheap, but equally typical: Kishimen noodles. These noodles are similar to Udon noodles, but broader and thinner which gives the noodles a different feel.
Typically served in a hot broth with toppings such as steamed fish cakes, spinach, spring onions and Bonito flakes they come in various forms served hot or cold.
One of the best restaurants to try Kishimen is Miya Kishimen. They have multiple shops all over the city including one at Atsuta Shrine, one close to Nagoya Station and one in Sakae district, the downtown area of Nagoya.
What to Eat in Nagoya for Dinner
For dinner, I recommend Hitsumabushi, my absolute favorite dish in the world. Hitsumabushi is made from grilled freshwater eel called Unagi in Japanese. The eel is served on rice in a delicious sweet sauce with crispy skin and juicy meat this dish is a real feast for all senses.
Hitsumabushi is a delicacy and not cheap, a normal serving costs around 3000 yen (30 US dollars) but there are usually small servings or half portions available at most Hitsumabushi restaurants.
I recommend trying Hitsumabushi at Hitsumabushi Ino. They have a restaurant right outside Nagoya Station in the Esca underground shopping street.
Nagoya Travel Tips
Nagoya is connected conveniently to Tokyo to the east and the Kansai region (where Osaka and Kyoto are located) to the west by the famous Shinkansen bullet train. From either you can reach Nagoya conveniently within a couple of hours.
Nagoya also has an international airport which has direct flights to many destinations in Asia but also Australia for example. If you are flying in from Europe or America you will probably need to change planes somewhere.
As is the case in most cities in Japan, Nagoya has an excellent public transport system comprising of trains and subways as well as buses. I recommend buying a Meguru tourist bus day ticket for 500 yen, which will also give you discounts on entry fees. You should also get an electronic top-up card for train and subway rides. The local one is called Manaca but you can use the ones from other cities in Japan as well (Pasmo, Suica, etc.).
Final Thoughts about Nagoya
As you can see, Nagoya really has a lot to offer and especially the food is not to be missed.
Lena is in love with Japanese food and she wants to share this love with all travelers coming 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. Find Nagoya Foodie on Facebook.
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I haven’t heard of Nagoya before. I didn’t know Toyota started as a textile company. The food in Nagoya sounds amazing, especially the eel. And I really love the castle.
This one day itinerary has a bit for everyone. While I have been to Nagoya before, I have yet to go to the Toyota Commemorative Museum which sounds really neat. Next time!
They are all interesting for a 1-day visit. I’d love to see Nagoya castle and Atsuta Shrine. Not a fan of eel, but i’d definitely have the Kishimen noodles. Thanks for sharing!
I appreciate all of your recommendations shared here, especially on food. It looks like there is plenty see and do here!