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Gifu l Ishikawa l Nagano l Nagoya

Nagoya

It is Japan's fourth largest city, the center of Chukyo (Japan's third largest industrial zone), and a commercial and industrial city. It is Nagoya.

Nagoya is a toned-down version of Tokyo with its many English language signs around to make it easy for non-Japanese speaking visitors to visit. From a castle town, the city rose to power during the feudal age. However, most of the old buildings and castles were destroyed during World War II. The city was rebuilt after WWII with expansive avenues and side streets that connect in straight lines, making it easier to find one's way around town. The two major sights in Nagoya are the Nagoya-jo Castle and the Atsuta-jingu Shrine.

Getting There

By Air : The Komaki airport links most major cities in Japan to Nagoya. All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL), and Japan Air Systems (JAS) service this airport. An increasing number of international carriers have started flying into Komaki airport to avoid the congestion at Tokyo's Narita airport. Hence direct flights from Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, and Vancouver are available.

By Rail : It is much easier to use the shinkansen (bullet train) if you are coming in from Tokyo. The fastest rail service to Nagoya is the JR shinkansen. Normal rail lines are also available from various cities in Japan.

By Bus : Buses do operate between Tokyo and Osaka with stops in Nagoya and Kyoto. However, they do take a longer time than rail services.

By Boat : The Taiheiyo ferry operates between Nagoya and Tomakomai through Sendai (21 hours, 9580 2nd class). Ferries depart from Nagoya-futo pier, a 40 minute journey by bus from Meitetsu bus station.

An excellent subway system with four lines signposted in both English and Japanese operates within Nagoya. The most beneficial lines are the Meijo, Higashiyama, and the Sakura-dori line. Fares range between 200 to 320 for all lines. The more adventurous can try using the extensive bus system. Do note that it will be advantageous if you understand basic Japanese. Meitetsu bus station, located on the third floor of the Meitetsu department store, is the main bus terminal.

Nagoya-jo Castle

Acting as the main lure to Nagoya city, Nagoya-jo Castle is a symbol of days gone by. Originally built in 1612, the castle was then a fine specimen of modern castle architecture. However, the grandeur of the castle was destroyed with the coming of World War II. The present five-storied building was rebuilt in 1959. Visitors can get an impressive view of the surroundings on its fifth floor. Three meter long replicas of the famous shachi-hoko, or dolphin-like sea creatures, standing on either end of the roof are interesting sights to behold.

The rooms on the second, third, and fourth floors exhibit armors and family treasures that were not destroyed during the war. Also, the Ninomaru Garden, which has a teahouse, is often admired for its splendor. Opened from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the castle is a five minute walk from Shiyakusho station, which is on the Meijo subway line.

Atsuta-jingu Shrine

Originally built in the 3rd Century, the Atsuta-jingu Shrine was rebuilt again in 1935. It has been regarded as one of the most important shrines next to the Ise Grand Shrine, as it enshrines the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or grass-cutting sword, which is said to be sacred. Together with the curved jewels and sacred mirror, they make up the three imperial regalia of the imperial family. According to mythology, the sacred sword was handed down to the imperial family by the goddess Amaterasu Omikami. No one is allowed to view the sword except for the Emperor and a few selected Shinto priests. A small museum houses various Shinto and Tokugawa-era artifacts. The shrine opens daily 24 hours, while the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with the last Wednesday and Thursday closed every month. From Nagoya station, take the Meitetsu Nagoya Honsen line to Jingu-mae and walk west for five minutes to reach the shrine.

Tokugawa Art Museum

Those who are interested in history should visit the Tokugawa Art Museum, which houses more than 10,000 valuable objects that were handed down by the Tokugawa family. Items such as prints, calligraphy, painted scrolls, lacquerware, and ceramics can be viewed. With the exception of Mondays, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The easiest way to reach the museum is to take bus No. 16 from Shiyakusho subway station and alight at the Shindeki stop.

Nagoya Port Area

The cargo area houses several interesting attractions, including the hi-tech Nagoya Port Aquarium, which is one of Japan's largest aquarium, while the Port Tower offers good views of the harbor. To get to the port area, take the Meijo subway line to Nagoya-ko (Nagoya port) subway station. Directions are also signposted in English.

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