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Ultramodern Nagoya has a cultural and artistic heritage dating back to the 17th century. The city's position on the bullet train line between Tokyo and Osaka means it's well connected. However, a distinct local cuisine and expansive green spaces make Japan's third city feel a world apart. Visitors are also spoilt for day trips to the hill shrines and villages of the Aichi and Gifu prefectures.
Opting for a hostel in Nagoya is a great way to get under the skin of the city. You could stay in a machiya (traditional wooden town house) or a Nagoya hostel with an onsen (Japanese bathhouse) style bath. Some Nagoya hostels have bars and restaurants serving local dishes and beer, although most hostels have communal kitchens which are useful for keeping costs down. Don't forget to ask for a free city map, or download one using the free Wi-Fi.
Nagoya is made up of 16 districts and Downtown (known as Sakae) is the central business district, with plenty of options for eating and shopping. Ōsu district is also a popular area for shopping. Fashion houses border food stalls and craft markets in this bustling commercial centre. For a glimpse into the city's economic history head to Endoji Street where Japanese merchants met and traded wares. The neighbourhood has been revived thanks to young entrepreneurs and fledgling clothing brands. The area around Nagoya Castle is home to many historical attractions.
Tokugawa Art Museum is one site not to be missed. The gallery houses 10,000 art works and relics inherited by generations of Owari Lords, including the priceless Genji Monogatari Emaki (Scrolls of Genji). You can also visit Ōsu Kannon, a Buddhist temple originally built around 1333, which holds the oldest handwritten copy of the kojiki (the mythological history of Japan). High up in Nagoya Tower there's a beer garden with exceptional views over the urban buzz. For a day out of the city, take the scenic train journey to Gujo Hachiman. This 16th-century village is a maze of cobble-lined waterways and ryokan (traditional inns).
Arriving into Nagoya via Central Japan International Airport is straightforward as the airport is well connected by bus and rail. From JR Nagoya Station, bullet trains run to Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka, while private lines will take you to Gifu. Most national bus routes also depart from JR Nagoya Station, heading to Japan's major towns and cities. To get around Nagoya, you can use the extensive subway system.