If Kyoto is Japan's most alluring cultural face and Tokyo its most vibrant and modern expression, then for many industrial Nagoya, the country's third largest city and a port, would be Japan seen through a rain-spattered window. But in Nagoya's case, at least, reputation should count for nothing. Here are five reasons why.
1 Toyota Plant Tour
Touring a vast manufacturing plant might not sound like the most scintillating way to spend a holiday, but Toyota's robot workforce is a sight to behold. Call (81-565) 293 355 for bookings.
2 Tokugawa Art Museum
With exhibits mostly spanning the 14th to 18th centuries and including all manner of paraphernalia from the Tokugawa family (Japan's rulers during the Edo era), the Tokugawa museum has the country's finest aristocratic collection. See tokugawa-art-museum.jp.
3 Atsuta Jingu
Chances are good that a visit to Nagoya will coincide with one of the dozens of festivals and ceremonies held annually at this Shinto shrine, a leafy oasis in the otherwise workaday city center and reputedly home to the kusanagi-no-tsurugi (grass-cutting sword), one of three items of legendary imperial regalia. More at atsutajingu.or.jp.
4 International Design Center Nagoya
A trip to this industrial-chic facility is a must for design fans. High-tech displays look at both everyday products, like TVs and phones, and experimental work, from the latest graphics to barrier-free living for people with disabilities. See www.idcn.jp.
5 Contemporary Art and Music
Nagoya isn't all manufacturing and museums; it also flexes impressive hipster muscles. Plastic Factory, plasticfactory.jp, offers a fine lineup of DJs and bands. Gallery Ham, g-ham.com, in fashionable Imaike, showcases rising art stars, as does Galerie Hu, galleryhu.com, where exhibitions range from installations to ceramics.