Are you planning to stop in Nagoya for a day on your next trip around Japan?

It can be tough narrowing down what to do in the fourth largest city in Japan but fear not!

We’ve compiled a list of the 20 best things to do to help you enjoy your trip to Nagoya to the fullest.

From castles to trails and museums, we’ve got you covered.

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1. Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle is the first castle to be designated a National Treasure and boasts the largest floorspace of any tower keep ever.

Topped with golden shachihoko tiger-fish ornaments, Hommaru Palace served as the official residence and administrative office of the Owari Tokugawa clan.

As you explore the grounds, you’ll see high stone walls of Nagoya Castle engraved with identity marks of the 20 daimyo.

These were feudal lords who took part in the castle construction.

The biggest stone is named after the renown castle architect, Kato Kiyomasa, who according to legend brought the stone to Nagoya.

Take a stroll in the scenic Ni-no-maru Garden, Japan’s largest garden next to to a lord’s dwelling.

Soak in the energy of the Victorious Kaya Tree where legend says that the first lord of Nagoya ate the nuts of the tree and prayed for victory before leaving for battle.

See the majesty of this superior military facility as you learn the history of Nagoya’s beginnings.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am-4:30pm
  • Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0031, Japan

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2. Oasis 21

Consisting of rooftop Spaceship-Aqua, Field of Green, a bus terminal, and the Galaxy Platform, Oasis 21 is a transport hub with everything you need at the reach of a hand.

Take a midair walk 14m above ground at Spaceship-Aqua and relish in the seasonal lighting displays.

Oasis 21’s Recreational area offers grassy fields and benches for anybody to take a short rest or just to chill.

Connecting local and intercity buses and subways, the bus terminal has fully equipped spacious rest areas for commuters.

Hosting various events, the Galaxy Platform is always full of visitors and has a tourist information center.

With direct connections to Sakae Station, Aichi Arts Center and Central Park, there is no shortage of things to see.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-10pm
  • Address: 1 Chome-11-1 Higashisakura, Higashi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 461-0005, Japan

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3. Nagoya TV Tower

Completed in just 9 months in 1954, construction for the oldest TV Tower in Japan went on night and day.

The tower was part of a Nagoya City urban planning project to assist in the broadcast of tourism and TV signals.

Registered as a Tangible Culture Property of Japan in 2005, the tower was designed by Professor Tachu Naito, the same designer of Sapporo TV Tower and Tokyo Tower.

See the city stretched out beneath your feet from the observation deck, or even Mt Ontake and Mt Hakusan on a good day.

Depending on weather conditions, feel the wind in your hair and enjoy a certified “Night View Inheritance of Japan” from the tower’s outdoor sky balcony 100 meters above ground.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-7pm
  • Address: 3 Chome-6-15先 Nishiki, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0003, Japan

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4. Osu Kannon Temple

Osu Kannon temple is a popular attraction located in central Nagoya.

It was originally built during the Kamakura Period, however, the temple was relocated in 1612 by Tokugawa Ieyasu due to severe damage from repeated flooding.

Under the main hall you’ll find the Shinpukuji Library which holds over 15,000 classic Japanese and Chinese texts.

The library also holds the oldest copy of the Kojiki – an archive of Japan’s early history and fabled origins.

A wooden statue of Kanon is the temple’s highest object of worship and is said to have been carved by an influential figure in the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism.

Osu Kannon temple also has prayer flags and a big red lantern in the front where worshippers can attach their written wishes on paper.

Check out their popular flea market on the 18th of each month, or a smaller flea market on the 28th that also takes place nearby at Banshoji Temple.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-7pm
  • Address: 3 Chome-6-15先 Nishiki, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0003, Japan

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5. Osu Shopping District

A vast and popular shopping area spanning more than 1,200 shops and restaurants, the Osu Shopping District has stood strong for 400 years.

One of Osu’s greatest allures, young and old flock to this multinational hodgepodge of fashion and culture.

A mecca for subculture, an increasing number of businesses are catering to the otaku culture, even hosting the annual World Cosplay Summit in recent years.

There are also many moe-themed shops.

Osu is where Japan’s maid café sensation was said to have first begun.

Lined with shops and restaurants selling just about anything one could want at a budget, the arcade streets total over 1,700m in length.

Osu Shopping District is also close to other sightseeing locations, and if you ever get confused or lost, just look for the Osu guides who are there to help on weekends and holidays.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 11:30am-7pm
  • Address: Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0000, Japan

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6. Hakurou Sake Brewery

Sake production in the Chita Peninsula is said to have begun in 1696.

This is when Kinoshita Niemon, a merchant of the Owari clan, first put a medicinal liquor he made in a pot.

Tasting of Hakurou Sake seems to be perfectly complemented by the jars and cups produced in the region; which also boasts the oldest and largest of six remaining old kilns in Japan.

Step into the 150 year-old brewery and learn about how they have stayed faithful to the traditional method of sake production.

Cultivating “Wakamizu” rice exclusively for their sake brewing since a few years ago, the brewery takes the utmost care to use as little pesticide and fertiliser as possible.

Hakurou Sake Brewery also pays close attention to the water used as it makes up more than 80% of the liquor.

This plays a big part in the fermentation process.

After exploring the ground, you can relax at a cafe gallery and grab a meal.

  • Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
  • Address: 4 Chome-10 Kobacho, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0818

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7. Walk the Tokoname Pottery Trail

Tokoname, known for its signature “redware” and charming Japanese teapots, produced more ceramics than any other kiln town in the Edo period.

With interesting museums, refreshing swimming beaches nearby, and walking courses, Tokoname makes for a pleasant and relaxing day-trip from Nagoya.

To immerse yourself in the ceramic heritage, there are two pottery footpaths to choose from: the 1.6km Course A, and the 4km long Course B.

Course A runs through a number of brick chimneys, the Takeda Family Residence, a merchant’s house preserved from the Edo Period, and Climbing Kiln Square.

The longer Course B passes through the Tokoname Ceramic Art Institute and Tokoname City Folklore Museum.

Try your hand at making clay balls or painting patterns on tiles at the exhibits and workshops.

When you’re done exploring the town, just hop on the train to Nagoya Station or a high-speed boat from Tsu and Matsusaka to Chubu International Airport.

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8. Inuyama Castle

One of only twelve original castles left in Japan, Inuyama Castle was initially constructed in 1537.

Inuyama Castle is also one of the six other castles with their main keeps designated as national treasures.

Built almost exclusively with rocks and wood, the castle sits atop a small hill next to the Kiso River.

Scale the four stories of steep stairs and reward yourself to the panoramic views of the castle grounds and river.

Check out the chambers in the keep and the lookout room with holes to throw stones down from in the event of enemy invasion.

The castle is also a 15-20 minute walk to the closest subway stations which makes it easy to travel around.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am-4:30pm
  • Address: Kitakoken-65-2 Inuyama, Aichi 484-0082, Japan

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9. Karakuri Museum

Delve into the traditions of the Karakuri and learn about the spirit and techniques of Nagoya’s prided traditional culture.

In the mid-17th century, festivals in Nagoya celebrated peace and stability by organising float decoration and Karakuri Puppet contests.

As a result Nagoya soon became the hub of Karakuri culture and furthered the development of the “Made in Japan” brand.

During the Edo Period, daimyo and affluent merchants used to entertain visitors with their Zashiki Karakuri as a way of gaining popularity.

Sign up for the basic course and watch a Karakuri doll and AI robot interactive demonstrations.

There are also two optional tours where you can either choose to visit a traditional Japanese house or the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
  • Address: Kitakoken-69ー2 Inuyama, Aichi 484-0081, Japan

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10. Atsuta Shrine

Fondly known as Miya, Atsuta Shrine has been one of the major centers of worship in Japan since its founding around 1,900 years ago.

The shrine is also referred to as the house of noted swords due to the massive number of swords and daggers contributed due to the legend.

Represented by the sacred sword symbolizing the Imperial Throne is the enshrined deity Atsuta-no-Ookami – decreed by the god of creation to bless mankind with the virtue of love.

Check out the Atsuta Matsuri held annually, where visitors are treated to various traditional Japanese performances, martial arts and displays for free.

The Treasure Hall contains about 4,000 articles donated by people ranging from the Imperial Family to commoners.

Do take note that the displays are changed every month.

The shrine is commutable from Nagoya station via multiple subway lines.

  • Opening Hours: Always open
  • Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 456-8585, Japan

Official site

11. Nagashima Spa Land

Attracting more locals than foreign tourists, Nagashima Spa Land consists of an amusement park, water park, shopping center, spa, flower park, and an Anpanman museum.

Home to the longest roller coaster in the world, the theme park boasts 60 attractions catering to both the young and old.

If you’re going in the summer, try one of the 15 slides or 10 pools at Joyful Water Park.

For more relaxation, visit the spa which features 17 indoor and outdoor hot springs, each set against man-made nature.

Experience one of the largest flower festivals or watch the dreamlike light shows between mid October and early May.

For the shoppers, visi Mitsui Outlet Park Jazz Dream Nagashima outlet mall, which hosts over 300 stores.

With so much to do, you can easily spend the whole day simply exploring the grounds!

  • Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10am-5pm; Weekend 9:30am-5:30pm
  • Address: 333 Nagashimacho Urayasu, Kuwana, Mie 511-1192, Japan

Official site

12. Legoland Japan Resort

Legoland Japan is a theme park catered more to kids, but with attractions that even adults can enjoy.

Book a room in the Legoland Japan Resort and relive your childhood fantasies in their Lego-themed rooms.

The theme park is divided into eight different zones with the addition of Ninjago World.

See iconic attractions around Japan realized as millions of Lego bricks at Miniland Japan.

Enjoy rides or learn more about the manufacturing process of Lego bricks at Bricktopia.

If you prefer live entertainemtn, watch scheduled shows around the Adventure, Knight’s Kingdom, Lego City, and Pirate Shores themed areas.

Make your trip more enjoyable by building your own lego model at the free-to-build sections or take photos with character mascots wandering around Legoland.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
  • Address: 2-2-1 Kinjoufutou, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 455-8605, Japan

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13. Tokugawaen

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and soak in the serenity at Tokugawaen.

Created during the Edo period, the garden covers about 2.3 hectares.

Arranged to imitate the Kiso Mountains, Mikawa Bay sea, and villages, the elements merge into one majestic daimyo garden.

Featuring a tranquil rock garden and lush greenery, let time simply pass as you enjoy the scenery and take a much needed breather.

Be greeted by the beauty of different flowers that bloom in Nagoya with each season.

Tantalize your taste buds with fine French cuisine as you soak in the breathtaking view.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9:30am-5:30pm; Monday closed
  • Address: 1001 Tokugawacho, Higashi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 461-0023, Japan

Official site

14. Tokugawa Art Museum

Flaunting the finest assortment of artistry, the museum was opened to the public in 1935.

With over 10,000 collected items, the museum’s collection is well known for its variety and quality of preservation.

Of these, 9 are designated National Treasures, 59 Important Cultural Properties, and 46 Important Art Objects.

See the lifestyle of a daimyo family through the reproduced portion of their living quarters at the Masterpieces Collection Galleries.

Designated as a Tangible Cultural Property, the Old Main Hall is also used to host an array of theme-focused special exhibitions.

You’ll also see the original sword blades of the Edo period, left un-sharpened so you can appreciate their raw beauty.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5pm; Monday closed
  • Address: 1017 Tokugawacho, Higashi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 461-0023, Japan

Official site

15. Nagoya City Science Museum

Home to one of the world’s largest planetariums, the Nagoya City Science Museum has dedicated five of their seven floors to an array of permanent exhibits.

The museum conducts daily live demonstrations, daytime sessions for star gazing, as well as robot workshops amongst other events.

Equipped with both an Optical and Digital Planetarium, the Planetarium can accurately replicate the movement and natural sparkle of stars.

The name of the Planetarium, Brother Earth, is a symbol of our planet’s sustainability.

Nagoya City Science Museum also houses the Exploring Water, Tornado Lab, Electric Discharge Lab, and Deep Freezing Lab exhibits where visitors can debunk some of the mysteries of nature.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9:30am-5pm; Monday closed
  • Address: Japan, 〒460-0008 Aichi, Nagoya, Naka Ward, Sakae, 2 Chome−17−1

Official site

16. Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium

The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium sits on the Nagoya Garden Pier alongside 6 other facilities.

Comprising a North and South building, the Aquarium hopes to encourage visitors to respect the ocean.

Step into the North Building and be introduced to “A journey spanning 3.5 billion years: Animals that have returned to the seas”.

In this section. you can also watch live shows of dolphins and porpoises performing their tricks.

Take “A Journey to the Antarctic” in the South Building and experience the seas around Japan, the deep sea gallery, equatorial ocean, Australian waterfront, and Antarctic Ocean.

Experience the mystery and splendor of the seafloor, learn about the lifespan of sea turtles, or watch the evolution of marine life and ecosystems.

If you only have one day in Nagoya, this is the place to visit.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9:30am-5pm; Monday closed
  • Address: 1-3 Minatomachi, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 455-0033, Japan

Official site

17. Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Opened in 1937, The Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens was originally coined the “Zoo of the East”.

The facility comprises a main and north zoo, botanical garden, 134 meters tall Higashiyama Sky Tower, as well as a theme park.

The zoo houses more than 500 species of animals including “hot guy gorilla” Shabani.

Open before the zoo in 1937, the large greenhouse of the Botanical Gardens holds the title of the oldest existing greenhouse in Japan.

There are roughly 7,000 species of plants including orchards, and the soundscape “Birds of Higashiyama Botanical Garden”.

Step onto the observation deck of the “Japanese Night Scenic Asset” Higashiyama Sky Tower and take in one of the “Hundred Best Night Views” of the Nagoya skyline.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am-4:30pm; Monday closed
  • Address: Japan, 〒464-0804 Aichi, Nagoya, Chikusa Ward, Higashiyama Motomachi, 3 Chome

Official site

18. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

Created to educate visitors on the advances in high speed railway and its impact on our society, this is a museum both the young and old can enjoy.

Visitors will be able to experience the 39 rolling stock displays which include the Superconducting Magnetically Levitated Vehicle (MAGLEV).

Step into the symbols of high-speed railway of years past and experience the dynamism of the railway.

You’ll also see the largest diorama in Japan as you learn about the history of the Japanese railway.

Take a ride on one of the many simulators at the park.

On arrival, you can access the audio guide via the free Wi-Fi and learn more about Japan’s  railways.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5:30pm; Tuesday closed
  • Address: 3 Chome-2-2 Kinjofuto, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 455-0848, Japan

Official site

19. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

Created in 1994, the museum was established to permit greater access to the historically important red-brick building built in 1911.

The mission of the museum was to teach the public about the history of Japanese manufacturing technology.

Displayed as a dynamic exhibit symbolizing the museum’s core philosophy is the Circular Loom.

The museum also exhibits textile machinery – one of the main industries contributing to the improvement of modern Japan and its automobile engineering.

In 2007 the museum was awarded the Heritage of Industrial Modernization prize for its role in raising awareness about Japan’s industrial heritage.

Take a walk through the museum’s many exhibitions like the Industry and Technology Exhibit or try your hand at crafting and lining up tools in Technoland.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 9:30am-5pm; Monday closed
  • Address: 4 Chome-1-35 Noritakeshinmachi, Nishi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 451-0051, Japan

Official site

20. Meiji Mura

Sitting on a hillside facing Lake Iruka, Meiji-mura (Meiji Village) was opened on March 18, 1965.

Japan first started assimilating Western culture, technology and architecture during the Meiji period.

The first Director of the Museum, Dr. Yoshiro Tanaguchi, had a vision of saving the cultural landmarks of the Meiji period from natural and war disasters.

Working closely with with his high school mate Mr. Motoo-o Tsuchikawa, they jointly established the Meiji-mura Museum complex.

Carefully selecting valuable buildings that were going to be destroyed, they brought them back to Meiji-mura for restoration to their original appearance.

If you have young kids, they’ll love hopping on the first Meiji streetcars and steam locomotives around the village.

  • Opening Hours: March to October 9:30am-5pm; November to February 10am-4pm 
  • Address: 1 Uchiyama, Inuyama, Aichi 484-0000, Japan

Official site

As you can see, there are many things to see and do in Nagoya.

So if you only have one day, we highly recommend booking a personalised tour where a local guide can share all the cultural insights of this historic city.

Hatago Travel is one company that provides this service.

Regardless of your choice, we’re sure you’ll have a fun time exploring Nagoya.

If you’re still deciding on the best things to do, there are still plenty more activities in Nagoya.

Find More Things to do in Nagoya

For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!