If you’re arriving or leaving Nagoya, chances are you’ll do it via Nagoya Station. The city’s main transport hub is a constant hive of activity – hardly surprising, seeing as how a total of 7 train lines converge here, including the Shinkansen [bullet train]. Bus services, meanwhile, are available from the Meitetsu and JR bus terminals, located at the south and north ends of the station complex, respectively.
Wherever you are in Nagoya, it’s pretty hard to miss the station’s Central Towers: together with the new Toyota skyscraper across the road, they are the tallest buildings in Chubu. One houses offices, while the other is occupied by the Nagoya Marriott Associa hotel, a superbly designed complex that boasts some of the best restaurants in the city. The equally classy Nagoya Hilton lies 10 minutes’ walk to the east. Other hotels in the area include the Hotel Nagoya Castle Plaza, Hotel Sun Plaza and Meitetsu Grand Hotel. There are also numerous budget-priced business hotels and all-night internet cafes, if you need a cheap place to crash.
The station area, commonly known as “Meieki”, is home to numerous department stores, and sits atop a warren of underground shopping arcades. Takashimaya and Tokyu Hands can be found within Central Towers; the older crowd head to Matsuzakaya and Meitetsu, while youngsters generally make a beeline for Kintetsu Passe and Meitetsu Seven.
There’s a large Tower Records store on the 9th floor of Kintetsu Passe. It’s the cheapest place to buy foreign magazines, though you could also try Sanseido bookstore, on the 11th floor of Takashimaya. The latter also stocks a range of foreign books, and holds regular sales. For imported food and drink, go to Seijoishii, behind the Meitetsu station. Electronic goods are available at Bic Camera or Sofmap, on the west of the station, and Eiden and CompMart, on the way towards Fushimi. Oddly, Bic Camera is also one of the cheapest places in town to buy alcohol – just head to the basement floor.
The Central Post Office is just north of the JR bus station, and is open 24 hours a day. Foreign credit cards can be used in their ATMs. For money exchange, go to the MUFJ bank next to Meitetsu Seven: it is open daily, including weekends.
If you’re looking for something to eat, there’s an almost bewildering array of options. The 12th and 13th floors of Takashimaya are given over to restaurants and cafes, while there are all manner of eateries in the area’s hotels and underground malls. Wander around the streets to the east of the station and you’ll find a plethora of izakaya [Japanese-style pubs], many catered towards the businessmen who flood the area during the evenings.
Some of Nagoya’s main movie theaters can be found here, including Piccadilly, the Gold & Silver Gekijo, and the 109 Cinemas multiplex (10 minutes’ walk south). Zepp Nagoya, in the same complex as 109, is a large gig venue that hosts regular concerts. JoyJoy, next to the Meitetsu Lejac building, is a popular karaoke and pool venue. Head just under the tracks and you’ll find Manboo!, a cheap internet and manga cafe that stays open all night.
For a taste of Nagoya’s industrial heritage, there are two excellent museums within easy reach of the station. The Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology traces the company’s technological development from textiles to cars. The Noritake Garden offers visitors the chance to see how their world-famous china is manufactured.
Ten minutes walk to the east, Nagoya International Center is there to help out foreigners with English-language information and assistance. Its 3rd floor has an extensive library of foreign language books and newspapers, broadcasts live CNN transmissions, and offers cheap Internet access. The American Center and the US Consulate are located in the same building.
If you feel like exploring, saunter north to the Endoji arcade and get a feel for the old Nagoya, in all its ramshackle glory.