Spend the day in Nagoya and you will experience the harmony of old-world charm and modern-day splendour.
Welcome to Nagoya, population 2.24 million and the capital of Aichi Prefecture. Located approximately 2.5 hours by shinkansen (high-speed bullet train) from Tokyo, Nagoya is lively with a vibrant atmosphere. As with numerous places in Japan, the city skilfully combines modern architecture and old-world construction. Among the modern-day features are Oasis 21 and the aquarium, while from yesteryear Nagoya Castle is perhaps the most prominent ancient building in the city.
Oasis 21 is a sunken open-air shopping complex with many restaurants and stores, including a bus terminal, and is located next to the Nagoya TV Tower. The street level has the Field of Green, which is an open-concept space with sectioned lawns. A myriad of trees, shrubs and light posts decorate the area. On the upper level is the Spaceship Aqua, which is an oval-shaped, frosted-glass-bottomed structure overlooking the Field of Green and giving a spectacular view of the area.
A short walk from Oasis 21 will take you to Nagoya Castle. It was built during the Edo period and was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu to counter attacks from the southwest as well as to secure an important position on the Tokaido Road. The castle is most famous for its two golden shachihoko: mythical beasts which sit atop the main keep and look like crosses between tigers and fish. Each floor of the building showcases both samurai and civilian life in the Edo period. You can also see a mock-up of an ancient street, complete with a bookstore, arms seller and stables.
There is more to this local dish than meets the eye and more than one way to enjoy its unique taste.
For those who like marine life, Nagoya Public Aquarium is recommended. This is a great place to watch dolphins, whales and seals swimming underwater. You will be dazzled by a school of sardines performing an aquatic ballet, gliding to and fro in unison and parting as larger fish pass through. There is also traditional entertainment such as the orca training or the dolphin performance. In the penguin exhibit you can see these underwater flyers execute precision turns before launching themselves back onto their ice floes. A glass tunnel shows stingrays swimming beside you and overhead, and much more.
After you have wound your way through the city seeing the different sights, why not sample some of the cuisine the area is known for? One such dish is hitsumabushi. It consists of chopped eel on rice and tastes similar to teriyaki. You can enjoy this dish three ways; the easiest is to eat it as is. Alternatively you can pour a special dried fish broth over it for added flavour. Finally you can combine it with wasabi and green onion for a spicier air. Naturally it comes with broth, wasabi and green onion, so you can try all three ways.
Nagoya is a city of many splendours at affordable prices, making it easy to lose yourself in its radiance.