Nagoya: Your gateway to Japan

This is a long overdue post about my trip to Nagoya and the Chubu region in 2015 with Cebu Pacific.

When people talk about traveling to Japan, the first place that comes to mind is Tokyo, followed by Kyoto. Naturally, for those flying into the country, the point of entry that comes to mind is Narita, Haneda, and Osaka.

Of the four airports that Cebu Pacific flies to in Japan from the Philippines, Tokyo Narita would probably be the most popular, followed by Osaka Kansai, and trailed by Nagoya and Fukuoka. Naturally during seat sales, the first two cities would be the first to run out of cheap seats, but if you’re watching your budget, fret not, because you can get cheaper fares if you are flying to Nagoya, even if you are aiming to travel to the Kanto or Kansai regions.

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Friends who regularly travel to Japan book flights to Nagoya when the fares to Tokyo have gone too high, and even with the cost of the overnight bus from Nagoya to Tokyo, it still comes out cheap. Likewise, the proliferation of low cost carriers offering domestic flights means you can fly out to as far as Sapporo without breaking the bank (and not losing any precious travel days traveling by train).

In the four trips I’ve made to Japan in the past years, I’ve found myself in the Chubu region for each one. It was not until my last trip that I was able to explore Nagoya city.

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When in Nagoya, make sure you try the tebasaki or Nagoya-style fried chicken wings at Sekai no Yamachan

Downtown Nagoya is vibrant and bustling, without the frenetic energy and massive crowds of Tokyo that can be overwhelming. Whether you are eager to go restaurant or bar hopping, singing your hearts out in karaoke until the wee hours of the morning, or looking for great shopping deals, you can do them all in Nagoya.

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If up for a cultural activity to round up your itinerary, a visit to the Nagoya Castle is a must. The castle grounds and the museum inside is impressive as it is, but if you can, time your visit on a Sunday morning, when a samurai show on the grounds is held. It’s all in Japanese, but it’s quite entertaining, and you can even have a selfie taken with the cast afterwards.

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Catch the samurai show at the Nagoya Castle grounds!

Beyond the city, there are a number of attractions you can visit. You can take a trip out to the Toyota factory and have an old-school type field trip to learn how Toyota cars are made. It’s a fascinating tour, not just for kids, but also for adults who nuts about supply chain management and logistics.

If shopping in Nagoya’s huge malls, 24-hour Don Quijote, and the Osu shopping street is not enough, you can venture out to the Toki Premium Outlet for some discount shopping. Whether you’re looking for clothes, accessories, cookware, or even if you’re not looking to buy anything, you’re sure to find something to spend your money on.

You can continue your shopping at Laguna Ten Bosch, and take a break by exploring the nearby Lagunasia themepark. Though not as grand as Disneyland or Universal Studios, it also does not have the swarm of people that flock the parks even on a weekday. Think of it as a theme park for people who hate crowds (hello fellow anti-socials!)

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The Thousand Sunny at Laguna Ten Bosch

Laguna Ten Bosch is also where the Thousand Sunny is docked. For fans of the manga and anime One Piece, this is a must visit. The ship replica is exactly how it looks in the anime, and you’ll be so occupied taking pictures in all the nooks and crannies of the ship that you’ll hardly notice that you’ve already cruised around the bay.

On the subject of anime, did you know that there’s an actual replica of the house in the animated movie My Neighbor Totoro in Nagoya? It’s about an hour away by train from the city, in the Aichi Expo Park.

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Excellent lunch at the Gamagori Orange Park. Our one of many amazing meals during the trip

Japan grows excellent produce, and fruit picking is actually a popular tourist activity in the country. One of the nearest in Nagoya is the Gamagori Orange Park, where you can go into the orange grove, pick as much oranges as you can eat. Aside from the fruit picking, make sure to also try having lunch at their restaurant, which serves set meals that are not just filling, but also quite delicious. Like other tourist attractions in Japan, they also have a sizable gift shop that offers the area’s specialties (my favorite were their cured fish).

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What better souvenir than a plastic sample of mix tempura that you made yourself?

There are plenty to explore in the Chubu region from Nagoya that you won’t feel like you’ve missed out even if you don’t go to Tokyo. There’s Gujo Hachiman, that’s known as the place to go for those realistic plastic food replicas you see outside restaurants. You can learn how to make them, or you can learn how to dance as the locals do during their summer festival. But really, even without those, I am drawn to Gujo Hachiman because it’s a very quaint and charming little town.

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Make sure you time your visit to Takayama to the weekend morning market!

Another favorite in the Chubu Region are the towns of Shirakawa-go and Takayama. Even though I’ve been to both three times already, I am not complaining of I am to visit them again in the future. Takayama offers a wide range of accommodations to fit any budget, and is very nice to walk through the town, especially during the weekends when the weekend morning market is in full swing.

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One of the oldest houses in Shirakawa-go.

Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is not just a joy to explore, but I find myself wanting to go back again and again just to see how it looks in different seasons. It’s magical when under a heavy blanket of snow, and still quite charming in the autumn.

Further on, there’s also the post towns of Magome and Tsumago, the bustling city of Matsumoto and Nagano, the onsen towns of Gero and Jigokudani… So if you find yourself during a Cebu Pacific seat sale with only fares to Nagoya fitting your budget, don’t worry not because there’s so much to explore!

Cebu Pacific flies every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to Nagoya from Manila. Much love to Cebu Pacific for giving me this opportunity to see more of the Chubu region!

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 5 Comments
  1. Marian says:

    Hi Nina, very informative post! We’re traveling to Japan again this coming December. Do you have any idea if he samurai show is still on in December? Keep up the informative posts, very helpful! Thanks heaps.

  2. Haha this is also on my drafts! It’s been two years but it feels like the trip just happened yesterday… and I haven’t seen you in almost two years haha see you soon x

  3. Nagoya seems like a great place to visit and it definitely has lots to offer. Your post was so inspiring, Nina! How long are you staying in Japan?

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