|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4|
|Morning||Air Asia Flight: KUL-NGY|
Arrival Time: 4.20 p.m.
|9.00 a.m. Gifu Bus to Shirakawa-go|
ETA: 11.53 a.m.
|Breakfast @ Komeda Cafe||Breakfast @ Cafe de Crie
Drug Store shopping
Check out and proceed to airport
|Lunch||Snacks from Shirakawa-go||Mei-Eki: Maruya Main Branch|
(Nagoya Eel Rice: Hitsumabushi)
|Miso Cutlet Yabaton, Chubu International Airport|
|Afternoon||Shirakawa-go "prayer hands construction" village|
Observation deck (by shuttle bus)
2.50 p.m. Hokuriku Bus to Hida-Takayama
Strolling at Sanmachi Old Streets
|Nagoya Castle |
Ohsukannon, Ohsu Shopping Street
Ohsu Street Performing Festival
|Omiyage (souvenir shopping) @ Chubu International Airport|
|Tea||Hida-beef sushi||Ebi Sandwich @ Konparu Main Branch|
|Evening||7.00 p.m. Meitetsu Bus to Nagoya Station|
ETA: 9.40 p.m.
|Shopping @ Sakae Area||Air Asia Flight: NGY-KUL
Departure Time: 5.30 p.m.
|Dinner||Sou Izakaya||Kitchen Hida||Sekaino-Yamachan|
(Nagoya Famous Chicken Wing: Tebasaki)
|Stay||Richmond Hotel Nagoya Nayabashi||Richmond Hotel Nagoya Nayabashi||Richmond Hotel Nagoya Nayabashi|
What is your general impression on Nagoya? Or you have never heard about this destination before? Prior to my trip, I asked around for more information and travel tips on Nagoya and no one seems to be able to help me. So I resorted to google. Apart from the official information in Tourism of Japan and Centrair’s official website; English blog posts and travelogues on Nagoya are really scarce!
Hence, I hope that I can be the first few English travel bloggers who pen down my fun and exciting travel adventures in Nagoya and the Gifu region. Seriously, Nagoya is so underrated. There is so much to see, to do and to eat here. Read on and you will find out why.
Arrival @ 4.20 p.m. -> Chubu Centrair International Airport –> Check-in to hotel -> Dinner at Sou
Air Asia flies direct to Nagoya; so it is just a short 6.5 hours before we arrived to the Chubu Centraair International Airport.
Right after you claim your baggage and clear the immigration, turn left at the arrival hall. You will see the Tourist Information Centre that provides travel-related brochures and free Wi-Fi service. It has staff members who can handle inquiries in three foreign languages: English, Chinese, and Korean. They are ready to help with any problems or travel-related questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to stop by. They also have a same-day baggage delivery service available for foreign travelers visiting Japan (a fee is required). The tourist information centre is open from 8am to 10pm daily.
Right smacked in the central area of Japan, Nagoya and the Chubu Centrair International Airport is a gateway to regions such as Gifu, Mie, Nagano, Toyama and etc.
I collected my Shoryudo 3 Day Pass here since I will be heading to the Gifu region next morning. The pass costs 6000 yen and it will cover my airport transfer for today, plus all my bus rides for tomorrow. Such good value for money! The pass can be purchased from japanican.com. More information on the pass can be found here: http://www.centrair.jp/SHORYUDO/2014/
There are two ways to get to Nagoya City:
1) Airport Bus to Downtown Nagoya (Sakae/Fushimi, 50 minutes) – 1000 yen. Link here.
2) Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu) to Nagoya Station– Limited Express (870 yen, 33 minutes); uSky (1230 yen, 28 minutes). Link here.
If you are traveling alone or in pair, it is better to take the airport bus as most subway stations do not have escalators. Since we were traveling in a group, the train is the fastest way to the city. From Nagoya Station, we shared a cab to our hotel (about 800 yen).
Richmond Hotel is our home for the next three nights. It is centrally located – just 5 minutes walk from the Fushimi station, 10 minutes walk from the happening Sakae area and 10 minutes walk from Nagoya station. There are a lot of drug stores, convenient stores and even restaurants around the hotel. The room is small but very clean and well equipped. Overall, it is a good value hotel for travelers.
Richmond Nagoya Nayabashi
1-2-7 Sakae, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0008, Japan
Tel: +81 52-212-1055
Direction: Fushimi Station, exit 7, 4 minutes walk/15 min walk from Nagoya station on JR, Meitetsu or Kintetsu
Our first meal in Nagoya was at this classy and chic izakaya style restaurant call 旬彩の宴想 “SOU”. The restaurant is only 5 minutes walk from our hotel.
Everything that we tried tasted so good, maybe because our Japanese friends took the liberty to order for us. If you do not have time to sample all the Nagoya specialties, “SOU” is the place to go as you get to order the tebasaki (chicken wing), hida beef and hitsumabushi (unagi rice) at one go.
1-4-33, Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi, 460-0008
Opens daily from11:30～15:00, 17:00～23:30
Direction: Fushimi Station, exit 7, 3 minutes walk
Meitetsu Bus Station –> Shirakawa-go prayer hands village –> Shirakawa-go observation deck –> Takayama Sanmachi (old street) –> Dinner @ Kitchen Hida
Rise and shine! I started my second day in Nagoya early as I have to catch the first bus to Shirakawa-go in Gifu region.
Remembered that I mentioned about my Shoryudo 3-day pass? I made my Gifu Bus ticket reservation online, so when I arrived to the meitetsu bus station, I just need to show them the pass to redeem my bus ticket. Do note that return bus ticket from Nagoya to Shirakawa-go alone is more expensive than the 3-day pass.
From Nagoya station, just follow the signboard to Meitetsu Bus Station, or lookout for “Nana”, the giant mannequin. Nana is located outside the entrance to Meitetsu Bus Station. There are clear signboards on which level and which boarding gate to go, depending on your destination. Easy peasy!
The bus journey took approximately 3 hours and there was a 10 minutes toilet break in between. Upon reaching Shirakawa-go, I visited the tourist information counter and requested for an English map. Easy peasy x 2!
Off I went to explore this UNESCO world heritage site village with just a map. From the bus station, just follow the crowd and you will be crossing this suspension bridge to the village.
The village’s main street consists of many souvenir shops and restaurants.
Shirakawa-go is famous for its farmhouses, which are built in a unique architectural style known as gasshō . The name means “hands together” as in prayer, referring to the steep roofs that keep the snow off in the winter. Underneath the roofs, the large attic area was used to house silkworms.
When in Shirakawa-go, remember to try out the gohei mochi (miso rice cake, 200 yen). Grilled till slightly caramelised, the rice cake was so soft and warm at the same time.
To have a clearer view on Shirakawago’s 112 Gassho-styled houses that remain from historic times; I boarded the shuttle bus that took me to the observation deck (200 yen one way). It is about 15 minutes walk from the main village. It is best to take the bus up and walk down afterwards to enjoy the scenery.
At the observation deck, there were two professional photographers who offer free service to take photographs for tourists. One of them took this nice shot for me. They will also take it from their own camera. If you like their work, remember to support them by buying it for 1000 yen.
Such a beautiful view! I am so tempted to come back during the winter, where the gassho houses will be covered in thick snow. Viewing such snow with light illumination is another major tourist activity here.
From Shirakawa-go, I took the nohi bus (certain time requires reservation) to Takayama. The bus fare is also included in the Shoryudo 3-Day Pass. Takayama (高山) is a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu prefecture.
Takayama has acquired three stars in the Michelin tour guide book. The main reason for this high rating is because Takayama retains a traditional touch, especially in its beautifully preserved old town (sanmachi) where wooden buildings from the Edo Period are still used as houses and shops.
It is about 10 minutes walk from the bus station and tourist information centre.
Free English tourist guide service is also available. More information here – http://www.hida.jp/english/practical-guide/introducing-our-free-english-tourist-guide-service.
During the Edo period, barrels made from Japanese cedar were used. So most sake breweries still hang a cedar ball under the eaves.
In fact, there are a lot of sake breweries and soy sauce shops in Hida-Takayama area where one of the streams from the Miyagawa River runs. This indicates sake breweries needed good quality water.
What are the three must buy things in Takayama? 1) Sake. You can get good quality sake for less than RM 50 per bottle. I took home 2 bottles. 2) Miso paste made from the best stream water. 3) Sarubobo means “monkey baby,” and is the mascot of the Hida Region. Sarubobo dolls were traditionally made by mothers for their daughters as charms blessing happy marriage and smooth birth delivery.
There are many almost ridiculously charming shops with courtyard that sells a perfectly curated jumble of handicrafts and vintage finds.
Remember to look out for this lightly seared Hida-Beef sushi (500 yen) along the sanmachi old street. Just spot for a long queue and you will be able to find it.
I managed to squeeze in some time to dine at Kitchen Hida before boarding the last bus to head back to Nagoya. I also showed the wait staff a Shoryudo image I downloaded onto my smartphone to redeem a glass of free beer. I’m loving tourist perks like this.
More information about the Shoryudo Welcome Card here – http://go-centraljapan.jp/en/special/shoryudo/files/welcomecard-info.pdf, Download this image to your mobile phone or smart phone. To receive a special offer, present this image to the facility.
When you’re in Takayama, you have to eat the Hida beef! Kitchen Hida is a prominent local steakhouse. The meat is prepared by the cook in front of you.
I opted for a grade A5 hida-beef that costs about 5000 yen for 100g. My set came with salad, choice of rice/bread and coffee/tea. The taste was just incredible and the meat literally melted in my mouth.
1-66 Honmachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0011, Japan
Tel: +81 577-36-2911
**Note: It is better to spend a night at Shirakawa-go/Takayama to ensure an enjoyable experience. Spending 3 hours in each destination is a tad too rush for a normal traveler.
Komeda Café -> Nagoya Castle -> Lunch @ Maruya Honten (Histumabushi) -> Ohsu Kannon Temple -> Ohsu Shopping Street -> Sakae Shopping District -> Dinner @ Yama-chan (Tebasaki)
Nagoya has a special breakfast culture call the モーニングサービス (mouninugu saabisu), or “morning service.” If you order just a coffee/tea in most coffee shops in Nagoya between 6 and 11 am, you will receive food with it for free. So we went to have our breakfast at a local café chain – Komeda Café. I ordered a coffee (300-400 yen) and it came with complimentary toast and hard boiled egg.
Everywhere in Nagoya city.
The best way for me to explore Nagoya town – Nagoya Subway&Bus 1 Day Pass. For ¥600, the 1-day pass for foreign tourists visiting Japan offers unlimited travel on the subway and buses in Nagoya City for 1 day. It can be used with Me~guru as well, the Nagoya Sightseeing Route Bus, a great way of getting round the main tourist spots within the Nagoya City. For more details of Me~guru, visit http://www.nagoya-info.jp/en/routebus/
Nagoya Castle is the landmark of Nagoya city. During the WWII, most portions of the castle were completely destroyed in air raids.
In 1957, reconstruction of the castle started. Second-generation golden dolphins were cast in the Osaka Mint and transported to the castle. In 1959, the buildings were opened to the public. The next couple of decades saw further renovation work.
We were able to admire some of the beautiful replicated paintings on the sliding doors (fusuma) that were completed and opened to the public in May 2013 at Honmaru Palace. The best-known items associated with the Nagoya Castle are the golden dolphins, or kinshachi. So it can be spotted in many areas around the Nagoya castle.
From Nagoya Station, take the Higashiyama Subway Line to Sakae Station (5 minutes) and change to the Meijo Subway Line to Shiyakusho Station (2 minutes). The total one way journey takes about ten minutes and costs 240 yen. From the nearest exit, it is a three minute walk to the castle’s east gate.
Alternatively, the castle’s main gate can be reached from Nagoya Station by the Meguru tourist loop bus in about 25 minutes. The fare is 200 yen per ride or 500 yen for a day pass.
Open daily from 9am to 430 pm. Closed from Dec 29 to 1 Jan.
Admission: 500 yen, 400 yen by showing Nagoya Subway&Bus 1 Day Pass.
When in Nagoya, one must try Hitsumabushi (unagi rice, 3000 yen). It is not your usual unagi rice as they are three ways to enjoy it:
1) Plain rice and unagi
2) Plain rice and unagi drizzled with spring onion, wasabi, seaweed and leaves.
3) Pour hot broth over the plain rice and unagi drizzled with spring onion, wasabi, seaweed and leaves.
You have to try it for yourself! There are a few famous hitsumabushi names in Nagoya city such as Atsuta and Maruya. I visited the Maruya main branch at Meitetsu Department Store, Nagoya Station. Be prepared to queue for an hour during peak lunch hour.
Meitetsu Dept.store 9F, 1-2-1 Meieki,Nakamura-ku, Nagoya
JR and Meitetsu Nagoya station
Osu Kannon (大須観音) is a popular Buddhist temple in Nagoya. Just beside the temple is the entrance to the Osu Shopping Arcade, a charming shopping street with many boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants.
Osu Kannon Temple
From Nagoya Station take the Higashiyama Subway Line and transfer to the Tsurumai Line at Fushimi Station. The one way trip from Nagoya Station to the temple takes about ten minutes and costs 200 yen.
Alternatively, the temple is a 5-10 minute walk from Kamimaezu Station on the Tsurumai and Meijo Subway Lines, via the shopping arcade next to the temple.
I was so lucky to be able to witness the Osu Street Performing Festival. It happens every year in October. The parade of oiran (courtesans) wearing beautiful clothes was mesmerizing.
Konparu Café, located on the Ohsu Shopping Street is an old style and classic coffee house that serves an irresistible ebi fry sandwich. It was delicious as the ebi was so crunchy and fresh.
Konparu Café (Ohsu Branch)
3-20-19 Osu, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
We headed to the famous Sekaino-Yamachan for our final dinner in Nagoya city. There are many branches of Yamachan that are scattered around the city. The main dishes that draw in the crowd are the quintessentially “Nagoya” food, such as tebasaki (chicken wing), tenmusu (tempura shrimp rice ball) and kishimen (flat noodles).
The tebasaki (手羽先) were really addictive! The crisp exterior and tender, moist meat was great.
Branches everywhere in Nagoya
Breakfast @ Café de Crie -> Drug store shopping -> Shopping @ Centrair International Airport shopping -> Lunch @ Misokatsu Yabaton -> Departure 5.30 p.m.
Together with Bobo and Audrey, we also did some last minute drug store shopping before checking out. It was fun finding my way around the beauty aisles of a drug store in Japan.
We took the train to the airport. Centrair International Airport is the best place to get those last minute souvenirs you missed. You can basically get all the famous Nagoya food here – from tebasaki, unagi, to uino (Japanese sweet) and instant noodles such as ramen, kishimen and udon.
Remember to look out for Centrair’s mascot – Fu the Mysterious Traveler. This year marks the airport’s 10th year anniversary, so there are a lot of limited edition merchandises up for grab.
Approximately 100 retail stores can be found at Sky Town on the fourth floor. I like how the retail space is divided into two distinctive “architecture”: Japanese and European. It also houses most of Nagoya’s famous restaurants such as Maruya for unagi rice, Yamachan for tebasaki and Yabaton for miso katsu.
Misokatsu is a famous delicacy in Nagoya and I am so glad that I can still have it in the airport. The deep fried katsu is served with “Red Soybean Miso Sauce” that is from Nagoya where the red soybean started. The red soybean sauce was very delicious with a mild sweet taste.
Centrair 4F Floor of Sky Town
Opens daily from 10:00 to 21:00
I hope this post serves its purpose as so many of you have been asking us for a full itinerary. I have to reiterate that Nagoya is really an underrated destination in Japan. I had so much fun exploring the city and enjoying all kinds of delicacies that are unique only to Nagoya. If you follow my footsteps and itineraries, I’m sure you’ll be having as much fun as me!