What makes the city of Nagoya so attractive is certainly its many attractions that are perfect for day trips. Filled with both traditional and modern, natural spots and man-made monuments, Nagoya is the perfect place for a traveller to get his or her best experience of Japan. Here is a list of 8 recommended day trips for those planning to head there.
1. 岐阜県、飛騨高山 - Hida Takayama, Gifu
HidaTakayama is a well-known travel destination for day trips even among the locals. Boasting both a well-preserved nature and historical flavour to the place, HidaTakayama makes its way to the top of this list. The Old Street at HidaTakayama is famous for the Edo period style buildings and decorations, and will be bound to bring out the historical atmosphere. The first, second and third parts of the street are called Sanmachi. The street has many traditional handicrafts as well as local special products such as Mitarashi Danshi (glutinous rice ball). The area has been designated as a protected area for its historical value.
Bunny lovers can also head to the third part of Sanmachi for Takayama Usagi House (Takayama Rabbit House), where a shophouse set in an olden day residence sells pouches, ornaments and loads of other things in bunny form. The Ubobo Doll is a special product to look out for. U- (as in U-sagi, rabbit) and -bobo (meaning baby), is a doll that symbolises happiness, a safe delivery, and prayers for the future.
HidaTakayama is the perfect place for a day trip, where there’s just enough time to try out good food such as Takayama beef gourmet at Kotte ushi, soak in the historical atmosphere and shop for unique Japanese souvenirs.
Hida Kotteushi (sushi and BBQ beef)
Address: 34 Kamisannomachi Takayama Gifu
Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm. Open daily
Access: 10 minutes’ walk from JR Takayama station
Contact: +81 577-37-7733
2. 岐阜県、白川郷 - Shirakawa-go, Gifu
Shirakawa-go is one of the top choices for a getaway from the bustling city life. The main area to explore is the OgimachiGassho-zukuri Village, which is in itself quite big and also a World Heritage Area. The historical village has tradition houses in Gassho Style and boasts a scene of 114 houses with thatched roofs that reminds one of ancient Japan. The Ogimachi-Jyoshi (the observation platform) allows visitors a panoramic view of the village. Meanwhile, the Wada House in the village is the largest remaining Gassho style house in the area, and houses the possession of the family. Fees are required for entry. For those interested to know more about the history and life of people in the area during ancient Japan, the Outdoor Gassho Folk Museum is also available. With advanced booking, you may even try making buckwheat noodles, just to make your trip more memorable.
Many more of such historical sites are in the area, including the Kanda House, DoburokuMatsuri Festival Hall, Zin Homura Art Museum and Myozenji Temple Museum. Highly recommended for summer and spring trips especially.
If you prefer a bus tour, price lists and schedules are available here: https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/
3. 愛知県、長久手市 - Museums day trip, Aichi
The Toyota Automobile Museum possesses both classic cars from Japan and abroad. Automobile fanatics get to indulge in the history of automobile between the 19th and 20th century by looking at the exhibition items on display. An annex showing materials on the everyday life of Japanese people and automobiles makes the experience even more interesting. While no guided tour of the annex is available in English, one may book in advance for free English guided tours. Audio guides in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean are available for 200 JPY (1.90 USD) should one chooses to roam freely in the museum. All explanations panels are in English and Japanese.
If you feel that the trip to the museum was not enough to satisfy your thirst for historical knowledge, you can take a short trip as recommended to the Nagoya Castle or Meiji Park nearby. One of the major castles in Japan, Nagoya Castle was constructed by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1609 and subsequently reconstructed in 1959 due to post-war damages. The interior of the castle is mainly material archives museum where you get to see armour and models of the Nagoya city area. Should you prefer to have a break instead, take a walk around the scenic Meiji Park.
Toyota Automobile Museum
Address: 41-100 Yokomichi, Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture
Price: free entry
Opening Hours: 9:30am - 5pm (last entry 4:30pm). Closed on Monday and Dec 31st - Jan 3rd.
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Access: 3 minutes’ walk from Geidai-dori-eki station of Tobu Kyuryo (Linimo) line
Contact: +81 561-63-5155
4. 三重県、伊勢志摩 - Ise-Shima, Mie
The Shima Peninsula is home to Japan’s most sacred Shinto Shrine, the Ise Shrines, and is a popular leisure resort area among the urban population of Nagoya. It has been designated as Ise-Shima National Park for its serene natural beauty and cultural importance. It is a relaxing place to retreat from the bustling city life, and perhaps a walk through the shrines will serve as spiritual nourishment, apart from sightseeing.
Ise Shima is also famous for its pearl cultivation. You can either head to the Mikimoto Pearl Island, a museum about pearls and its cultivation, or Ago Bay, a bay famous for pearl cultivation, and see the process for yourself. Definitely an interesting place to expand your horizons. For those who are slightly younger, Ise Shima also has several theme parks to visit. Edo Wonderland Ise is a theme park about the samurai era, or head towards Spain Mura for one with a Spanish Theme. Whichever you choose, you will certainly lose yourself in the fun for the whole day!
5. 三重県、伊賀 - Iga, Mie
By Limited express Kintetsu Line, Nagoya Station > (60 minutes) > Ise-Nakagawa Station > (23 minutes) > Iga-Kanbe Station > (27 minutes) > Ueno-shi station By express bus, From Nagoya route bus to Sanko-Iga-shako > (97 minutes) > Ueno-sangyo-kaikan stop.
The art of stealth and subterfuge, conducting acts of espionage and sabotage, undying loyalty to the feudal lords, yes, Iga is most famous for their ninjas. During the feudal era, Japan had 2 leading ninja schools, and the Iga school of ninjutsu is 1 of them. For ninja enthusiasts, Iga is the holy land. The main attraction here is the ninja museum with comprehensive information regarding ninjas. They will also host a ninja show with various demonstrations. Although only in Japanese, even tourists can enjoy it as the action speaks for itself. Watch a video of how ninjas infiltrate the Ueno castle. Follow it up with a trip to the castle itself nearby. Even non-enthusiasts will find it interesting and feel entertained for the entire day. Not a ninja enthusiast? Iga is also the birthplace of one of Japan’s greatest poets, Basho Matsuo, who lived during the early Edo period. There is a memorial museum, his birth home, and a former hermitage to allow visitors to find out more about him.
6. 岐阜県、下呂温泉 - Gero Onsen, Gifu
In the Edo Period, Gero Onsen was referred to as one of Japan’s three best onsen by Hayashi Razan, a Confucian poet. Now, its popularity has not dropped at all, with more than one million visitors every year. If you are an onsen lover, this whole town is perfect for you. Many baths in the numerous ryokans are open to public during certain times of the day, and there is even a large open air bath where you can bathe in for free, though it has no facilities and is exposed to the bridge above it. A good way to sample all these is to buy a Yumeguri Tegata(spa pass), a wooden tablet that can be bought all around Gero, like the tourist office, the ryokan, souvenir shops and convenience stores. this gets you three visits each to the baths of any of the roughly thirty participating ryokans. The best part is that it lasts for six months. If you are tired after walking around, there are free footbaths where one can sit and relax too.
Of course other than onsens, there are things to visit and explore in Gero too. Onsenji Temple, a temple that worships Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing, whose image is credited to restoring the flow of hot spring water to the town after it was stopped by a huge earthquake. You can also visit the Gassho Village, an open air musem of gasshozukuri famhouses, which are traditional steep roofed houses from the Shirakawago region. Tired after walking around? Just hop back into an onsen with your spa pass!
7. 愛知県、知多半島 - Chita Peninsula, Aichi
The Chita Peninsula is home to several popular places you could go to. From Chita Okuda Station, 20 minutes walk away is a famous shrine among the young, the Koinomizu Shrine. Its name, which means “water of love”, comes from a sad tale from the Heian Period, where Princess Sakurahime came to this place looking for miracle water to cure the disease of her lover, Aomachi, yet dying without ever finding it.
Nowadays many young lovers visit the shrine to pray for a happy marriage. From the Kowa Station, there is a free shuttle bus to Mihama’s Prawn Cracker Village, or Ebisenbei-no-Sato, one of the best places to get the best of the regional delicacy. Tour the factory and see just how Aichi’s famous Prawn Crackers are prepared, baked and packaged, and even try making your own! If not, take a bus down to Utsumi from Kowa Station, and visit the popular Shirasu no Yu onsen, or enjoy the beach in summer, perfect for a day trip.
Enjoy your short getaway!
So here’s the list for anyone looking for a short getaway in Nagoya. For travelers looking to hop from city to city in Japan, this will be the perfect list to put into your itinerary. Whether it’s food, experience or visual delights, Nagoya is bound to satisfy its visitors!
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