Centrally located on the main island of Japan, the city of Nagoya is the capital of the Aichi Prefecture and is the third largest metropolitan region in Japan. Nagoya has a population of 2.3 million, making it Japan’s 4th largest city (just 200000 less than that of Osaka). Nagoya was founded around the early 1600’s when the Nagoya Castle and Atsuta Shrine were established to become the capital of the province that is now part of the Aichi Prefecture. The Castle and Shrine exists in the same location today but are mostly late 1950’s reconstructions due to the heavy damage Nagoya suffered during World War II.
From its early beginnings Nagoya become a manufacturing city and a busy port. Pottery was one of the cities first industries that still exists today thanks to the world renowned Noritake porcelain company. Nagoya was the place Toyota Corporation was founded and today has the city’s largest automotive production facilities. Toyota’s exports of cars via the Nagoya Port help make the port Japan’s largest trading port. Much of Toyota’s facilities are located to the east of central Nagoya in the area that is now known as the City of Toyota (formally the town of Koromo). Nagoya is sometimes called the Detroit of Japan many automotive part makers have a presence in Nagoya while Mitsubishi has a research facility in the town. Mitsubishi formally made aircraft in Nagoya during World War II and it was mainly this facility that led to Nagoya’s firebombing during the war.
The most popular attractions in Nagoya include the Nagoya Castle, Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya TV Tower and the Toyota factory and Museums. Many of these attractions are fairly easy to get to via the subway around central Nagoya. Of the Toyota Attractions, the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology and their display at Midland Square are the easiest to get to with the former being located next to the Noritake factory museum and the later being opposite the huge JR Central Towers. The Toyota Automobile Museum is located a bit out of the city but accessible via subway and the maglev Linimo train near Expo Memorial Park while the Toyota Kaikan Museum and plant tour is located in Toyota City to the east of Nagoya.
Since Expo was held in Nagoya in 2005 Nagoya has seen an increase in tourist numbers and thanks to the opening of Nagoya’s Chubu Centrair Airport many airlines have taken advantage of the new airports cheaper landing fees to provide discount international airfares to Nagoya. If you are heading between Tokyo and Osaka via the Shinkansen bullet train Nagoya makes an ideal stopover and is a bit over about halfway between the cities with Tokyo accessible in around 100 minuets and Osaka in 50 minutes.
Japan enjoys full religious freedom based on Article 20 of its Constitution. Upper estimates suggest that 84–96 percent of the Japanese population subscribe to Buddhism or Shinto, including a large number of followers of a syncretism of both religions. However, these estimates are based on people affiliated with a temple, rather than the number of true believers. Other studies have suggested that only 30 percent of the population identify themselves as belonging to a religion. According to Edwin Reischauer and Marius Jansen, some 70–80% of the Japanese regularly tell pollsters they do not consider themselves believers in any religion.
Nevertheless, the level of participation remains high, especially during festivals and occasions such as the first shrine visit of the New Year. Taoism and Confucianism from China have also influenced Japanese beliefs and customs. Japanese streets are decorated on Tanabata, Obon and Christmas. Fewer than one percent of Japanese are Christian. Other minority religions include Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Judaism, and since the mid-19th century numerous new religious movements have emerged in Japan. Culture runs deep in Nagoya, as it was a major trading city and political seat of the Owari lords, the most important house of the Tokugawa clan. The Owari lords actively encouraged trade and the arts under their patronage, especially Tokugawa Muneharu, the 7th lord of Owari, who took a keen interest in drama and plays and lived a lavish lifestyle. Under his rule, famous actors and actresses began to come to Nagoya, creating a bustling city life. The patronage of the arts and culture was emulated and supported by the wealthy merchants of the city. The cultural life continued to flourish after the end of the feudal Edo period and the beginning of the modern Meiji era. The destruction brought on by World War II however was unprecedented in the history of the city. Many old buildings and artefacts were destroyed during the American bombing raids and subsequent fires, grave losses of Japan’s cultural heritage. Nevertheless the economical and thus financial power of the region and the city in the post-war years has reconstructed and rekindled the artistic and cultural scene.