One Day in Nagoya, Japan Itinerary

After one year, I find myself back in Japan! This time, I'm embarking on a journey to a new prefecture, Nagoya, which will be my 12th visited prefecture in Japan. The primary purpose of my visit is to attend my favourite manga exhibition, making this a one-day trip filled with sightseeing and exploration. As you continue reading, I'll share with you all the exciting things I experienced during this short but eventful visit to Nagoya.

About Nagoya

Nagoya City (名古屋), Japan's fourth-largest incorporated city and the third-most populous urban area holds a central position, making it a vital transportation hub, historical centre, and industrial powerhouse in the nation. It is also the capital of Aichi prefecture.

The Nagoya area boasts a robust industrial sector, encompassing prominent companies such as Toyota, aviation, transportation equipment, industrial machinery, robots, and fine ceramics. Aichi Prefecture, home to Nagoya, has held the top position in Japan for manufactured shipment values each year since 1977 (as of 2018), earning Nagoya the nickname "the factory of Japan." Many of these industries have a rich history in automaton and ceramics dating back to pre-modern times.

Getting to Nagoya
There are multiple transportation options to reach Nagoya. In our case, we flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kansai International Airport and then boarded the Shinkansen to reach Nagoya. Here are some transportation details that might be of interest :

From Osaka
The Japan Railways Shinkansen provides train service between Shin-Osaka and Nagoya with a frequency of every 15 minutes. The tickets for this journey are priced at 5,000 - 7,500 yen and the travel time is 49 minutes. On the other hand, the Willer Express offers a bus service from Osaka WBT Umeda to Nagoya Station Noritake every 2 hours. The tickets for the bus cost 1,400 - 3,700 yen and the journey takes approximately 3 hours and 5 minutes.

From Tokyo
The JR Tokaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Nagoya. The Nozomi trains take approximately 100 minutes to travel from Tokyo to Nagoya, while the Hikari trains take about 110 minutes, and the Kodama trains take around 3 hours. The ticket prices for this journey range from about 8,500 - 12,000 yen.

Yazawa Ai Exhibition : All Time Best

Finally, the primary reason for my visit is the Yazawa Ai Exhibition: All Time Best (矢沢あい展). As you can see, I am absolutely delighted! My love for the manga and anime Nana began when I was just 16 years old. Stepping into the exhibition and witnessing numerous fans like me gathered there truly touched my heart. The experience was incredibly moving, knowing that so many others share the same passion and admiration for Yazawa Ai's work as I do.

Yazawa Ai has gained immense popularity through her works, notably Paradise Kiss, Tenshi Nanka Janai, and most notably, Nana, which, despite being on indefinite hiatus, has been adapted into an anime and several live-action films. Her stories beautifully capture themes of love and heartbreak, the complexities of everyday life and stardom, and an abundance of dreams – some lost, while others are fiercely held onto.

This exhibition presents a curated selection of her "All Time Best" works spanning the years, showcasing 300 original pieces, ranging from hand-drawn manga panels and vibrant illustrations to Yazawa Ai's distinctive focus on men's street fashion. Additionally, the displays offer special extras, such as the actual pens and ink used by the artist in creating her masterpieces. Devoted fans of Yazawa Ai's artistry should not miss this exceptional opportunity to get up close and personal with these original creations!

Unagi Yondaime Kikukawa

In 2017, Unagi Yondaime Kikukawa (うなぎ 四代目菊川opened its doors in Nagoya, offering customers the unique experience of savouring an entire cut of Japanese eel. The restaurant's background lies in managing a well-established wholesaler with 90 years of experience, supplying countless speciality eel restaurants. This expertise ensures that the ingredients used are of the highest quality.

Grilled Whole Eel Meal (4,950 yen)
Rather than opting for the renowned Kikukawa specialty of a whole unagi, I decided to go for the grilled whole eel set meal, which includes rice, soup, and pickles. Without a doubt, this is one of the most delectable eel dishes I've ever savoured.

Eel Over Rice Bowl (2,950 yen)
My friend, who was still feeling quite full, decided to order a small rice bowl. She was content with her choice and also felt satisfied with her meal.

As you dine, you can catch a glimpse of the kitchen through a window, where fresh unagi is skillfully prepared and grilled over bincho charcoal until it acquires a crispy, golden-brown exterior, while retaining its fluffiness and delightful aroma on the inside. The chef is incredibly cute, as he continuously encourages us to capture videos and photos while he skillfully grills the unagi.

Among the crowd's favourites is the hitsumabushi set, a regional delicacy from Nagoya. This set features grilled unagi served over rice in a wooden bento box, accompanied by a small pot of dashi to be added halfway through the meal, enhancing the flavours. For those seeking a luxurious experience, the Kaiseki set is an excellent choice. It presents the whole eel prepared in various styles, including sashimi, baked in a Japanese omelette, skewered and grilled over charcoal, and shiroyaki (grilled without glaze).

Total cost : 8,470 yen (for 2 pax)

Location : 4-60-12 Hiraikecho, Nakamura-Ku Global Gate 3F, Nagoya 453-0872 Aichi Prefecture.
Business hours : Daily (11.00am - 3.00pm ; 5.00pm - 10.00pm)

Misokatsu Yabaton | Meitetsu Department Store

One of Nagoya's renowned culinary delights is miso katsu, a pork cutlet served with a luscious and thick miso sauce. Among the many shops in Nagoya offering this dish, Misokatsu Yabaton (みそかつ 矢場とん) stands out as a popular choice, with its establishment dating back to 1947. What makes this place special is its red miso sauce, crafted from natural soybeans and aged for a remarkable eighteen months. The secret to its rich flavour lies in the daily hand-preparation of the miso sauce, adding to Yabaton's culinary prowess.

The main attraction here is the deep-fried pork, although they also offer other options like fried prawns, fried crab meat, and fried vegetables. The restaurant prides itself on carefully selecting high-quality pork sourced from Southern Kyushu. The deep-fried pork can be served in several ways – on a hot plate with cabbage, on skewers, in a bowl of rice, or simply on its own, with the rice served separately.

I opted for the assorted set meal, which included loin, fried shrimp, and asparagus roll, and it amounted to a total of 2,320 yen.

The set meal is complemented by refillable rice and miso soup, ensuring a satisfying dining experience. I love their thick miso sauce!

My friend selected the pork tonkatsu, which was priced at 1,480 yen. This meal came with cabbage, rice, soup, and an additional side dish as well.

In addition to the food, they also offer merchandise like keychains and snacks. If you're a fan, don't hesitate to pick some up.

Total cost : 3,800 yen

Location : 1-2-1 Meieki Nakamura, Meitetsu Department Store, Honten 9F, Nagoya 450-0002, Aichi Prefecture.
Business hours : Daily (11.00am - 11.00pm)

Crepes de Anne

Experience the utmost cuteness in Nagoya at Crepes de Anne (クレープス・ド・アンヌ), a unique board game cafe that specialises in serving animal-themed crepes, fruit crepes and bubble tea.

Get ready to be captivated by the charm of these delightful treats, which feature adorable renditions of alpacas, hedgehogs, and pigs that are bound to melt your heart.

With the expertise of a skilled artist, the cream is meticulously piped onto the crepe, skillfully mimicking the textures of fur or spikes. The finishing touches involve adding intricate facial details, bringing these edible creatures to life and enhancing their irresistible appeal.

Initially drawn to the alpaca creation due to its overwhelming cuteness, I eventually opted for the hedgehog variety due to its better balance of cream.

I was genuinely amazed by the cream they used, especially considering that I'm not a fan of the cream. Their cream has a denser consistency, less milkiness, and a moderate level of sweetness. During our visit, we were the sole foreigners amidst a ful house even on a weekday, which also speaks to its popularity among the locals.

Total cost : 1,510 yen

Location : 10-4 Tsubakicho, Nakamura-Ku Santown Meieki Tsubaki North Wing 1F, Nagoya 453-0015 Aichi Prefecture
Business hours : Tue - Sun (12.00pm - 7.00pm) ; Closed on Mon

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

Located in the birthplace of the Toyota Group, the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (トヨタ産業技術記念館) serves as a preserver of the original early 20th-century plant, showcasing it as an industrial heritage. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the evolution of textile technology that played a pivotal role in the development of modern Japan.

Toyota, founded by Kiichiro Toyoda and officially incorporated on August 28, 1937, derives its name from the founder's family name, Sakichi "Toyoda." Initially, the company's vehicles bore the Toyoda emblem. However, in 1936, a public competition was held to design a new logo, resulting in a rebranding to the present name, Toyota.

Toyota's origins can be traced to Sakichi Toyoda's groundbreaking invention of the world's first automatic loom in Japan's weaving industry. In 1918, he founded the Toyoda Spinning and Weaving Company. His invention not only improved production efficiency but also minimized defects. When issues occurred, the loom would automatically stop, preventing the creation of flawed fabric and preserving thread. This concept, known as "jidoka," involved designing machinery to stop automatically and alert to problems instantly, and it remains a fundamental principle of the Toyota Production System today.

Additionally, the museum provides insights into the advancements in automobile technologies that continue to push new boundaries today. Through dynamic exhibits and live demonstrations featuring actual machinery, visitors can truly experience the remarkable journey of progress in both the textile and automotive industries.

In this space, you will discover a wealth of information and materials pertaining to the exhibits owned by the museum, intended for survey and research purposes.

The museum also showcases cars from various generations, each with its own classic charm. Whether you're a Toyota enthusiast or a car lover, a visit to this museum is a must.

Among the many cars on display here, my personal favourite is this one. Its classic design reminds me of the cars featured in the movie The Mummy Returns.

Location : 4 Chome-1-35 Noritakeshinmachi, Nishi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi, 451-0051, Japan.
Business hours : Tue - Sun (9.30am - 5.00pm) ; Closed on Mon
Museum admission fees : 500 yen (Adult aged > 18) ; 300 yen (Senior aged > 65) ; 300 yen (High school students) ; 200 yen (Elementary school students)

Mitsui Garden Hotel Nagoya Premier

The Mitsui Garden Hotel Nagoya Premier (三井ガーデンホテル名古屋プレミア), listed in the prestigious Michelin Guide, offers breathtaking night views from its upper floors. Situated just a 5-minute walk away from Nagoya Station and adjacent to shopping malls, it boasts remarkable convenience. This establishment is the Mitsui Fudosan Group's inaugural Mitsui Garden Hotel in the Tokai region.

Guests can indulge in the serene and panoramic vistas of Nagoya's cityscape, starting from the 18th-floor lobby and extending to guest rooms on floors 19 to 25. For relaxation, the hotel provides an extensive and expansive spa where visitors can unwind and alleviate the tiredness of their travels.

And here is the view from our room! The room is comfortable, the location is strategic, and the staff are friendly. I highly recommend staying here if you're planning a visit to Nagoya.

On the 18th floor, guests can indulge in a dedicated spa facility to offer a rejuvenating experience after their journey. The courtyard features captivating art installations inspired by a sea of clouds. In the morning, the space reflects the rising sun, creating a refreshing ambience, while during the night, a captivating blue light transforms the area into a dream-like setting. This allows guests to appreciate the spa's distinct charm, depending on the time of day.

Breakfast buffet
The breakfast menu will delight diners with various dishes prepared from seasonal ingredients sourced from Aichi Prefecture. Among the offerings are salads and dips showcasing the freshest produce. Moreover, guests will have the pleasure of savouring more than 60 delectable items, including options like scrambled eggs and Japanese-style rolled omelettes made from the renowned Nagoya Cochin eggs. Traditional Nagoya cuisines, such as miso and mirin-stewed beef sinew, as well as kishimen noodles, will also be available, promising a truly authentic and flavourful dining experience.

Location : Symphony Toyota Bldg., 4 Chome-11-27 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 450-0002, Japan.
Check-in time : 3.00pm
Check-out time : 11.00am

That wraps up my itinerary for my 12th visit to a prefecture in Japan. It was short but fun. I can't wait to share with all of you about my 48 hours in Osaka trip. Stay tuned to my blog for the updates. That's all for now. Don't forget to check out the travel vlog below.

Travel Vlog
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For more photos, feel free to search the hashtag #ShiniInNagoya on Instagram. There, you can also find additional details about my personal experiences during the trip.