Since Nagoya is only an hour from Osaka on the Shinkansen, I had the option to spend some of the day in Osaka but decided to go straight to Nagoya. Once there, I found it easy to navigate with a similar subway system to Osaka and Tokyo so had no trouble finding my hotel in the Sakae shopping district. I stayed overnight so here’s what I got up to in my time there.
The main reason I added Nagoya to my itinerary was so that I could finally visit this bunny cafe and buy one of their trademark bunny ear mugs. It was everything I hoped for and more – baby bunny! – and I blogged about it in great detail last year.
Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Visiting botanical gardens is a favourite hobby of mine so I wasn’t going to miss this chance. It was easy to get to – close to Higashiyama Koen subway station (which has a big supermarket with plenty Pocky and snacks). The zoo and gardens are connected so you have to pay for both and walk all the way through the zoo to get the to the gardens. I didn’t have very long before closing time so I only popped in to see the koalas and spend some time in the little shop, so I could buy something featuring their cute mascot.
The gardens were lovely, especially the rose garden which was in full bloom and had some water features too. The larger part of the garden is in a separate section across a road so make sure to keep your ticket handy. There are various sections to explore plus a big glass house. There’s a monorail connecting the two gardens if you don’t want to walk but the signs are all in Japanese and I couldn’t quite figure out the times and prices. If you have more time, there’s a big lake with swan boats, a Sky Tower and an amusement park (see top photo).
Nagoya City Science Museum
This was a last minute addition when I realised the bunny cafe didn’t open until lunchtime. The City Science Museum was about halfway between my hotel and the bunny cafe so it seemed like a good plan. Even if you don’t go inside, it’s worth visiting the park as the building is really cool and there’s a big rocket to look at and a fountain. I did go inside and it was worth the entry fee as there’s six floors of exhibits including lots of cool space stuff for me. The signage is all in Japanese but I got along okay.
There’s also a lots of stuff for kids with a huge water-powered machine covering two floors, lots of interactive exhibits and a miniature Nagoya with moving trains. If you have more time, and understand Japanese, you can book a visit to the planetarium or deep freeze lab. It’s a great place to wander around for a few hours.
Only in Japan would you discover your hotel was opposite a Kirimichan ferris wheel! You can’t really ignore such an opportunity so I made time to visit. Sunshine Sakae is a shopping centre and also home to idol group SKE48 who make regular appearances. It also hosts temporary character cafes – there was a full Kirimichan restaurant and also a stand selling crepes. I did go on the Sky Boat ferris wheel which was only ¥500 and gives you pretty good views over Nagoya.
It’s situated inside a huge branch of Tsutaya, which has books and kawaii merchandise, plus some gashapon. There’s also a big branch of Don Quixote across the street which had flavours of KitKats I didn’t have room for and then never saw back in Tokyo. So annoying!
I had a great time in Nagoya and wish I hadn’t waited so long to visit. I will definitely be back as I want to visit the railway museum, and also see the bunnies again! If you get the chance, go!