It was Expo 2005 that put Nagoya on the world map. A total of 121 countries participated in the event, which attracted more than 22 million visitors over the six months of the Expo and generated revenues for the region estimated at around $2.6 billion. More importantly perhaps, the Aichi region (of which Nagoya is the capital) gained an international reputation as a global leader in urban design and sustainable development.

The main Expo site has now been turned into a public park, the Aichi World Expo Commemorative Park — more commonly called “Morikoro Park,” after one of the Expo mascots — and it features a giant Ferris wheel, Japanese gardens and the Mu Academy, a center for learning and exchange related to forests and domestic woodlands housed in the former Aichi Prefectural pavilion.

Nagoya has long been known as a manufacturing center. Home to about 9 percent of Japan’s population, it accounts for more than 18 percent of the country’s total industrial output. Four major industries — woodwork, textiles, pottery and heavy machinery — have underpinned the city’s growth. Nagoya’s Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyota empire, invented the first mechanized loom, which was later exported to England. More recently, high-tech industries such as automobiles, electronics, machine tools, aerospace and auto parts have complemented this list.

Subsequent to Expo 2005, the economy of Nagoya has continued to grow. Unemployment in 2006 was at 3 percent, compared with a national average of 4.3 percent. In 2006, office rents in Nagoya were, on average, 25 percent lower than in Tokyo, giving Nagoya a competitive advantage in attracting corporate relocation. Volkswagen Japan, for example, recently moved its head office from Tokyo to Nagoya, while Mercedes-Benz Japan has opened an importation and distribution center in Greater Nagoya.

Nagoya’s central location in the middle of Honshu Island also gives it a strategic advantage. The Port of Nagoya handles a larger annual volume of cargo than any other Japanese port. And opened just in time for Expo 2005, the Chubu Central Japan International Airport, also known as Centrair (NGO), is Japan’s first 24-hour airport, served by more than 300 international flights a week.

The Greater Nagoya area, a 39-square-mile expanse encompassing the three prefectures of Aichi, Gifu and Mie with Nagoya City at its center, is a recent designation, and its success has yet to be measured. But the area is indisputably the manufacturing hub of Japan, particularly in the fields of biotechnology and automobile production. The region’s industrial cluster projects, including the Tokai Manufacturing Project, the Tokai Bio-Factory Project and the Nagoya Nanotechnology Manufacturing Cluster, are already well established.

In a bid to boost tourism to the city, the area stretching from Nagoya Castle to Tokugawaen has been dubbed “The Cultural Path,” billed as a living testimonial to 400 years of Nagoya history. The Cultural Path is lined with many historic buildings that have survived from the Edo (1603-1867), Meiji (1868-1911), Taisho (1912-1925) and Showa (1926-1988) periods. An hour by rail north of Nagoya, the scenic Kiso Valley still boasts towns that have changed little since the Edo era.


LODGING

NAGOYA MARRIOTT ASSOCIA HOTEL

The best thing about the Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel is its location, right above the Nagoya Shinkansen (fast rail) station. You can be checked into your room (the foyer is on the 15th floor of the Hotel Tower above the station) within 10 minutes of arriving by train — a boon for business travelers planning to travel widely within central Japan. The lush lobby, decorated with inlaid marble, is immediately inviting, as are the large, well-appointed rooms. After checking in, stroll along the promenade linking the hotel and office towers, where you’ll find three floors of inexpensive restaurants — from sushi bars to steakhouses. $$$-$$$$
NAGOYA MARRIOT T ASSOCIA HOTEL
1-1-4 Meieki, Nakamura-ku
tel 81 52 584 1111
http://www.marriott.com

NAGOYA SAKAE TOKYU INN
The Nagoya Sakae Tokyu Inn is an excellent business-style hotel a short walk from Nadya Park and the Sakae subway station. Rooms have wireless Internet access and the usual amenities, and there are a number of non-smoking rooms. Not all staff speak English, but they go out of their way to assist guests. The excellent buffet breakfast features both Japanese and Western-style dishes. $$-$$$
NAGOYA SAKAE TOKYU INN
3-1-8 Sakae, Naka-ku
tel 81 52 251 0109
http://www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com

HOTEL CASTLE PLAZA
A modest business-style hotel on Sakura-Dori,
the very central Hotel Castle Plaza is just a
three-minute walk from Nagoya’s main rail
station. The amenities are just what a business
traveler needs: in-room Internet and a desk, comfortable beds, a big-screen TV and a
plethora of restaurants offering cuisines from
French to Indian and Thai — and even
Japanese.$$$
HOTEL CASTLE PLAZA
4-3-25 Meieki Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi
tel 81 52 582 2121
http://www.castle.co.jp/ plaza


DINING

KAGURAYA SASUKE

Housed in a restored Showa period building surrounded by a garden, this restaurant specializes in seafood and locally bred chicken. Selections on the extensive a la carte menu change monthly and vary with the seasons.$$$
KAGURAYA SASUKE
1-10-6 Higashi Sakura, Naka-ku
tel 81 52 971 6203

SHIGE SUMI YOSHITEN YAKITORI DINING BAR
Try the Mikawa Jigae chicken banquet of 11 different dishes including marbled chicken sashimi and three types of chicken hotpot. With two hours of free drinks (beer, house wine, shochu and sake) included, the cost is about $44 per head. Other specialties include Nagoya Cochin chicken kebabs with lemon and pepper. Or choose from the “degustation grand menu,” with dishes such as homemade mozzarella marinated in miso or Chinese-style fried chicken salad costing from $4 to $6 a piece.$-$$
SHIGE SUMI YOSHITEN YAKITORI DINING BAR
3-2-30 Sakae, Hidekazu Building B1
tel 81 52 241 9881

DINING-BAR TESHIGO TO-YA
It could be any pub in downtown Nagoya — but this place is particularly friendly, laid-back and inexpensive. A line of empty shochu bottles behind the bar shows that the Teshigoto-ya is home to some big-drinking regulars. Good steaks feature on the menu, and seafood is a specialty. Sliced salmon with grain mustard and an octopus salad on the side, plus a half-liter mug of beer, costs around $17.$
DINING-BAR TESHIGO TO-YA
3-24-7 Meieki, Nakamura-ku
tel 81 52 541 0010


INFO TO GO

Flights to Nagoya arrive at the new Chubu Central Japan International Airport, or Centrair (NGO), on an island in Ise Bay, south of Nagoya. From the airport by train, the Meitetsu Airport Line takes just 28 minutes to central Nagoya. The fare is about $7.50. There also are buses into the city center and to other locations in Greater Nagoya, including Toyota headquarters. The ride into the city takes about one hour and costs about $11.


CHECKING IN WITH TAKEHISA MATSUBARA, Mayor of Nagoya

Global Traveler:What is Nagoya doing to sustain the impetus for economic development generated by Expo 2005?

Takehisa Matsubara: The City of Nagoya is actively promoting itself domestically and overseas, highlighting the advantages of its location as the central city within the Greater Nagoya area — a region boasting an extraordinary concentration of world-renowned manufacturers of automobiles, transportation machinery and construction machinery — and showcasing the attractions of the city. We also are working to advance existing industries, to produce greater numbers of entrepreneurs catering to the various needs of today’s generation, and for new industrial and academic partnerships to yield the leading industries of the next generation. Finally, Nagoya is aiming to become an international business hub that supports this pivotal manufacturing region.

To further these goals, the City of Nagoya formulated the Industrial Revitalization Plan in March 2005 and has since implemented various measures based on this plan, including business attraction, business establishment support, human resource development and market development support.

In particular, in addition to establishing a subsidy system to attract businesses, the City of Nagoya is making efforts to promote the attraction of foreign-owned corporations through its affiliation with the Aichi Prefectural Government and local economic bodies.

GT: What is Nagoya doing to promote regional tourism?

TM: Nagoya’s main attractions and distinctive characteristics include its “modern samurai family” culture represented by Nagoya Castle and its close connection with the Owari Tokugawa Clan, its manufacturing culture represented by various industrial museums and its unique food culture represented by miso-flavored pork cutlets, flat wheat noodles and other delicious local dishes.

While taking advantage of these attractive features, the City of Nagoya is actively attempting to improve its sightseeing appeal by supporting the efforts of local regions to become more oriented towards tourism and by staging and subsidizing various events. The City of Nagoya is also widely promoting the city’s unique charm and attractions by carrying out domestic and international tourism campaigns in affiliation with neighboring local government bodies.

The Cultural Path historic district links Nagoya Castle and Tokugawaen — two symbols of Nagoya’s modern samurai family culture — and is one of the most important sightseeing resources within the city. Accessing the district has been made more convenient for visitors with the addition of the Nagoya Sightseeing Route Bus, which centers largely on this area and makes stops at important sightseeing locations on the route.

GT: Is the Greater Nagoya area sufficiently recognized internationally to attract direct foreign investment? Can you measure the success of the Greater Nagoya Initiative?

TM: The Greater Nagoya area is a powerful engine of the Japanese economy and is gradually gaining greater international recognition as a result of hosting Expo 2005 Aichi Japan and through the booming international economic exchange taking place in the region.

Thanks to the continued strong financial performance and development of new technologies by the large cluster of firms in the local automotive, aeronautical, IT and biotechnology industries, the region is certainly the most dynamic in Japan today and is well recognized by investors and businesses, both domestically and overseas, as an excellent investment location.

In terms of measuring the success of the Greater Nagoya Initiative, 306 overseas businesses have so far been invited and introduced to the region, followed by the arrangement of a total of 810 business meetings with local businesses, a large number of which have resulted in continued communication. Through such activities, 28 foreign businesses have expanded their operations into the Greater Nagoya area. Furthermore, the numbers of Japanese businesses in the region that identify with the ideals of the Greater Nagoya Initiative and are cooperating in program initiatives are steadily increasing, with the number growing to approximately 400 businesses at the present time, a strong indication that the initiative is obtaining results in its promotion of international industrial exchange.


DIVERSIONS

Nagoya is a smaller and less harried version of Tokyo. In the central Sakae district, check out Nagoya’s famed 1950s vintage TV Tower with its observation deck 328 feet — or 310 steps — off the ground and a restaurant level at about 98 feet offering slightly less astonishing views. A newer, and even more futuristic landmark is Oasis 21 with its inclined oval “Water Spaceship” roof. It houses, of all things, a bus terminal, as well as shops and cafes.

Yanagibashi Wholesale Market is home to more than 400 shops and fish stalls, dating back to the Edo era (1603-1868) and second in size only to Tokyo’s giant Tsukiji Fish Market. Giant tuna, octopus, shrimp and other sea creatures are on sale here from early morning. The market also sells a wide range of specialized utensils, from sashimi knives to bamboo sushi rollers.

NADYA Park, one of Nagoya’s lesser-known delights, is something rare in Japan — a mid-city green space. Adjacent to it is the super-expensive Loft Department Store, the Creare shopping center and the International Design Center Nagoya , with its fine Design Museum and Design Gallery.

About 30 minutes by rail from downtown Nagoya via Hamatsu City, Lake Hamana Garden Park is what remains of Pacific Flora, a floral exhibition that ran as a precursor to Expo 2005. Flowing through the grounds is the scenic Iridori Canal, still bridged by the classic Taikobashi Bridge.

Other must-see gardens include Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens (3-70 Higashiyamamotomachi, Chikusa-ku, tel 81 52 782 2111), a vast expanse right in the heart of the city that celebrated its 70th birthday in 2007, and Tokugawa Garden (1001 Tokugawa-cho, Higashi-Ku, tel 81 52 935 8988), constructed in 1694 as a residential retreat for Mitsutomo, the second Lord of the Owari clan, which handed over ownership of the garden to Nagoya City in 1931. Sadly, most of the garden and its buildings were destroyed during World War II and a very long restoration was finally completed in November 2004.

But perhaps Nagoya’s main claim to fame is Nagoya Castle (1-1 Honmaru, Naka-ku, tel 81 52 231 1700), where the Tokugawa shoguns made their home for more than 250 years, until 1868 when Japan’s official isolation from the West came to an end with the beginning of the Meiji period. The castle is a must-visit. Then, for a completely different take on Edo-era Japan, board a train to Nakatsugawa station, about 50 minutes from Nagoya, and a bus to the village of Magome, where the scenic hiking trail to Tsumago is a 200-year trip back in time.


JUST THE FACTS

Time Zone: GMT +8
Phone Code: 81 Japan, 52 Nagoya
Currency: Yen
Official language: Japanese
Major industries: automotive engineering, electronics, biotechnology