The hub of the Aichi region, Nagoya is Japan's fourth-largest city after Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka. The focal points of this sprawling agglomeration are Nagoya station (名古屋駅) to the north, Sakae (栄) to the east and Kanayama (金山) to the south.
Not arriving via Centrair Airport?
If you happen to arrive in Japan at Osaka's Kansai International Airport, Nagoya can be reached in no less than two hours by taking the Haruka limited express train to Shin-Osaka station, then changing to the Tokaido Shinkansen.
A small number of air flights operate daily from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Centrair Airport, for the benefit of international passengers. Otherwise, Nagoya is no less than three hours away by taking the Narita Express limited express train to Tokyo station, then changing to the Tokaido Shinkansen.
Chubu Centrair International Airport, Japan's third major international gateway, is located on an artificial island 30 minutes south from the center of town. Facilities include two hotels and an onsen spa with views of the runways. Centrair opened in 2005, and this airport replaces the existing Nagoya airport, also taking over its IATA code NGO.
The best way of connecting between Centrair Airport and central Nagoya is the Meitetsu Airport Line. Limited expresses take just 28 minutes (¥980 plus a usually-optional ¥350 for a reserved seat) to cover the distance to the city. Note that Meitetsu trains are not free for JR Railpass riders.
While all other companies have moved to Chubu, regional flights by J-Air still use the old Nagoya Airport (NKM), also known as Komaki Airport, to the north of the city. Shuttle buses (¥850) connect to Nagoya station in 28 minutes.
A one-way ride from Tokyo is about 1 hour, 40 minutes via Nozomi (¥10780) and between 1 3/4 and 2 hours via Hikari (¥10580).
From Kyoto, Nagoya is reachable in 36 minutes via Nozomi (¥5640) and between 36 and 55 minutes via Hikari or Kodama (¥5440).
From the Shin-Osaka station in Osaka, Nagoya is 53 minutes away via Nozomi (¥6380) and between 53 and 70 minutes away via Hikari or Kodama (¥6180).
Thru Nozomi trains from western Japan reach Nagoya from Okayama (1 hr 40 mins, ¥10980), Hiroshima (2 hrs 20 mins, ¥13830) and Hakata station in Fukuoka (3 hrs 20 mins, ¥18030). It is slightly longer via the Hikari service; you will need to change trains at least once, either at Okayama, Shin-Kobe, or Shin-Osaka.
If you wish to sacrifice travel speed for savings, you can take advantage of the Puratto Kodama Ticket(in Japanese), which offers a discount for Kodama services if you purchase at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a free drink on board. With this ticket a trip to Nagoya costs ¥7900 from Tokyo (3 hours; 2 trains per hour), ¥4100 from Kyoto (1 hour; 1 train per hour) and ¥4200 from Shin-Osaka (1 1/4 hours; 1 train per hour). A few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket.
Nagoya also serves as the terminal point for the hourly Wide View Shinano, a limited express train that runs from the mountain resort towns of Nagano and Matsumoto. Nagoya is reached in 3 hours and 2 hours, respectively.
Local trains from Tokyo take about 6 hours at a cost of ¥6090, requiring several train changes along the way. However, trips on local trains are more valuable if you purchase and use a Seishun 18 Ticket during the valid time period. Otherwise, consider using a bus starting from ¥5000, or step up to the bullet train for ¥7900 using the Puratto Kodama Ticket.
Remember that the Japan Rail Pass covers all journeys described above, EXCEPT for Nozomi trains.
Nagoya is also served by the Meitetsu and Kintetsu private railways. If coming to Nagoya from Osaka, a travel option that comes cheaper than the Shinkansen is a Kintetsu limited express service called the Urban Liner (アーバンライナー), which runs out of Namba station. The Urban Liner departs at 0 and 30 minutes past the hour, covering the journey in as little as two hours, but at a cost of ¥4150 each way. (The shinkansen, by comparison, makes the run from Shin-Osaka to Nagoya in under an hour for ¥5670). Japan Rail Passes are not vaild for the Urban Liner.
A cheaper method of reaching Nagoya is by bus. Day and night services run to Nagoya from most parts of the country, particularly from Kanto. For example, a night service from Tokyo to Nagoya on JR Kanto Bus costs ¥6420 one way (discounted trips ¥5000 each way), while daytime services cost ¥5100 one way. The trip takes roughly 6 hours to complete.
123bus has nightly bus service to Nagoya from Tokyo. With online booking service available in English.
Nagoya is a big automotive industry center, and it shows. Trains and subways are less convenient than in Tokyo or Kansai, but more expensive. For those travelling with a JR Rail Pass, note that the train network doesn't have many stations in the city and you'll probably find yourself using the bus or subway alot, something your pass won't cover.
There are 4 main subway lines:
The red Sakuradōri Line (桜通線) connects Nagoya Station to Sakae before curving south.
The purple Meijō Line (名城線) runs in a loop around the eastern side of the city, connecting Sakae and Kanayama; the Meikō Line (名港線) spur branches from Kanayama to Nagoya Port.
The yellow Higashiyama Line (東山線) connects Nagoya, Fushimi, Sakae, and Fujigaoka.
The blue Tsurumai Line (鶴舞線) connects Fushimi and Osu Kannon, then goes south.
Subways run every several minutes between about 05:30 until about 00:30. Fares range from ¥200 to ¥320. One day passes can be bought for ¥600 (bus), ¥740 (subway), and ¥850 (bus & subway).
Nagoya Castle (名古屋城 Nagoya-jō). Trumpeted as a famous landmark, particularly the two golden carp (金の鯱 kin-no-shachi) on the roof, but in truth recently rebuilt in concrete. The inside is an interesting enough museum (no pictures allowed) and the gardens surrounding it, nothing special. 500 yen for entry. To get there by subway, take the Meijo line and get off at Shiyakusho station. If you've seen other Japanese castles, you can safely give it a miss.
Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮 Atsuta Jingū), Jingūmae station. This shrine houses the sacred Kusanagi no mitsurugi (草薙神剣) sword, one of the three Imperial regalia of Japan — but unfortunately nobody but the emperor and a few high priests get to see it. There are some 4,400 other artifacts on the grounds though and the shrine hosts some 70 festivals every year.
Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1-1-1 Kanayama-cho, Naka-ku (next to Kanayama station), 052-684-0786, . Closed Mondays, Tuesday through Friday 10am to 7pm, Saturday, Sunday, Holidays 10am to 5 pm. Like any world-class art museum, the MFA in Boston has far more in its archives than it can reasonably display. This sister institution is one way to make the most of the extensive collection. Student / Adult admission: 300/400 yen for the general collection, 900/1200 yen for special exhibits.
Tokugawa Art Museum. Displaying some treasures of the Tokugawa family.
Nittaiji Temple (日泰寺), 1-1 Hohocho, Chikusa-ku, tel. 052-751-2121, . Among the 165,000 square meters of temple grounds is the 15 meter Gandala-style Taian Pagoda, which houses relics of the Buddha that were presented to Japan by the king of Thailand.
Shirakawa Park. Beautiful trees, Nagoya Science and Modern Art Museums. South of Fushimi subway station.
Hisaya-oodori Park. Nice trees and fountains, Nagoya TV Tower observation deck. Sakae or Hisaya-oodori subway exits.
Higashiyama Park (東山公園 Higashiyama-koen). (Higashiyama-koen station). Features a zoo, conservatory, monorail, roller coasters, "sky tower" and a great deal of open space.
Osu Market, subway Osu Kannon exit 2 (straight ahead one block, turn left into the temple grounds and go straight on through the gravelled temple area). A series of old style shopping arcades packed with mom-and-pop stores, 100 yen shops, traditional crafts, used computers and a fantastic range of clothing stores. There is a little bit of everything. Osu is the shopping area and Osu Kannon the temple just to the west side.
Sakae is a good choice for your mainstream department store shopping, restaurants, and night-life. Take a walk atop Oasis 21 and get a nice view of the TV Tower.
Nagoya is big on miso, a sauce made from fermented soybeans and grain. You should not leave the city without trying misokatsu (味噌カツ), fried pork cutlet with a rich, red miso sauce on it.
The other Nagoya classic is shrimp tempura, particularly when wrapped up in rice and dried seaweed and turned into a handy portable package known as a tenmusu (天むす).
The city is also known for uiro, basically red bean jelly, a substance a little firmer than gelatin, with a subtle flavour.
Nagoya's noodle specialty is kishimen, a flat, broad noodle served in a miso or soy sauce broth. Available in most restauran-gai in shopping centres or close to major railway stations.
Café de Metro, 1F Kanayama station (North Exit). Serves up basic curry and donburi dishes (including a decent misokatsu) for ¥480 with coffee/tea, or ¥680 with miso soup and pickles.
Kanran aka Marche du Soleil, , map on the website. European style restaurant, near Osu Kannon subway station. Plenty of vegetarian options on the (available in English) menu - the organic vegetable sticks and vegetable pizza are good choices. Staff are friendly and speak a useable amount of English.
Yamamotoya Sōhonke (山本屋総本家), 25-9 Meieki, B1F Horinouchi Bldg (on Sakura-dori not far from Exit 6 of the Nagoya subway station). The home of the classic Nagoya miso dish nikomi udon, consisting of thick, chewy, handmade udon noodles served in boiling hot miso sauce/stock. Fairly pricy at ¥1200 for a basic bowl and rather difficult to eat — diners are provided with bibs to protect themselves from soup spray — but the effort is worth it.
Around Nagoya station, there are a lot of places for cheap drinking. Sakae is the big nightlife district, in a loose triangle formed by the Sakae, Yaba-cho and Osu Kannon stations. Sakae has a large red light district as well, but as with most of Japan, there's no sense of danger so don't worry about drifting around. There are countless izakayas around Kanayama station, both cheap chains and more upscale places.
If the bar and club scene is not for you, try Nagoya Friends and their bimonthly international parties. Always a dynamic mix of foreigners and Japanese. At the party it's all you can drink and eat (~¥3000).
Shooter's, close to Fushimi station. An American sports bar that attracts a mixed crowd with live music on Sundays.
The Red Rock, located directly behind the Chunichi Building in Sakae. An Australian pub experience.
Hard Rock Cafe, close to Hilton. Serves the usual mix of rock music and American food.
Nagoya has some of the best clubs in Japan, possibly second only to Tokyo. A lot of the DJs who play Tokyo also pass through Nagoya.
ID club - the most popular and well-known club in Nagoya. In Sakae.
Club Mago In Shin-Sakae on the basement level of the Flex-building. Great for house, techno, electro-clash, progressive house. 2500-3000 cover.
Radix - one of the bigger clubs in Nagoya, a lot of big house, jungle and dub Djs play here. Expect to pay from 2000-3000 yen, usually with a free drink included.
Club Daughter has something happening almost every night, so you'll never be stuck for something to do. It's a small place though. To western clubbers, it may seem more like a basement party then a club, and if you're going out on a Monday or a Tuesday, you may find it pretty empty. Fridays and Saturdays, though, the place is normally packed. Drinks are about 600 yen each, entry varies, check on the site.
Club JB's is another good Nagoya club. Right around the corner from Club Daughter.
J-Max in Fushimi attracts foreigners and Japanese alike for your weekend dance event. Entry fee is usually 2000-3000 yen, with a couple of drinks included.
The Underground, Shin-Sakae. Has two floors for one price, upstairs is hip-hop at maximum volume levels, while downstairs more dance music is played. Always a happy crowd without annoying bouncers, ladies pay 1500 and guys 2000 with 2 drinks included. Foreigners welcome.
Capsule Inn Nagoya (カプセルイン名古屋), 7F Kanayama 4-1-20 (on Otsu-dori near Kanayama stn), tel. (052)331-3278, . Showing its age, but kept clean and still a perfectly functional capsule hotel. Reservations accepted and you're free to come and go, payment on arrival by cash or credit card. ¥2800 gets you a capsule for night, plus ¥800 if you want to sample the sauna/spa downstairs (there are no bathing facilities in the capsule levels) and ¥500 extra if you check-in after midnight. You get ¥300 off if you present a paper with the printout of the online coupon at check-in time. Hotel is men only.
APA Hotel Nagoya Nishiki, 3-15-30 Nishiki, Chuo-ku (Sakae subway station, exit 2, one block forward), 052-953-5111, fax 052-951-7269. This business hotel is located in the middle of the Sakae dining and shopping district. The rooms are comparatively clean and the staff speaks English; internet access is included. ¥9800/single. 
Meitetsu Inn Nagoya Kanayama (名鉄イン名古屋金山), 1-11-7 Kanayama, Naka-ku (Kanayama subway station, exit 6. Turn right at Daiei, left at Coco, look for the blue-and-white Japanese sign), 052-324-3434, fax 052-324-3435. This business hotel was built in February 2005 and has very clean rooms; in-room internet access and breakfast is included. The staff has some limited English ability. ¥6800/¥10,800/¥13,000 for single/small double/double  (in Japanese)
Marriott Associa Hotel, Nagoya Station (directly above Takashimaya Department Store). A three minute walk from a Nozomi Shinkansen train to a well-marked elevator portal takes you to the 15th floor check-in level. This often-full five star hotel (20,000 to 70,000 yen/night) is equipped with ten good restaurants, which tend to be jammed, but the adjacent office tower also has more than 20 restaurants on two levels ranging from inexpensive noodle eateries to high-end sushi places. Note that if you have a concierge room reservation, you need to go to the concierge level (35th floor) to check in. Rooms are extremely clean and comfortable.
Nagoya Tourist Information has branches in Nagoya and Kanayama stations.
The city's two Citibank branches for foreign-friendly cash withdrawals are in Sakae, and in the North Tower above Nagoya Station. Post offices may prove more convenient.
Inuyama, with its picturesque castle, kinky fertility shrines, and nearby Meiji Village, is a short day trip from the city.
Ise, home to Japan's holiest shrine, is within striking distance.
Gifu - Visit Gifu castle (take a bus from the train station). Ride the cable car up the mountain, feed the squirrels (they jump on your arm and eat from your hand), visit the museum, enjoy the amazing view from the top of the castle. See the Nagaragawa fireworks display during the summer festival.
Tsushima - Visit Tenno River park in the spring to see amazing cherry blossoms and wisteria.
Tajimi - Visit Eihoji Zen Temple. A beautiful walk down to the river. Be sure to see the bamboo grove (takebayashi).
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