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Five Museums to Discover Nagoya

Luke Kinsella

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Luke Kinsella

Last updated : Feb 24, 202311 min read

Things To Do

Nagoya has a lot to offer. You can learn about the origin of Toyota, discover an early factory for ceramic products. Perhaps you want to discover more about art and science, or just simply look at some dinosaurs. We have selected the top five museums in Nagoya:

Tokugawa Art Museum

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The Tokugawa Art Museum is famous for its displays of armor and articles bequeathed from the daimyo (feudal lords) of the Tokugawa family, especially those from the first shogun of the Edo Era, Ieyasu Tokugawa. His hereditary collection, the swords and armor of those daimyo during the Sengoku (Warring States) Era, accessories, tea ceremony instruments, paintings and items used during wedding ceremonies among other exhibits are displayed. There is a tremendous number of over 10,000 artifacts which include 9 National Treasures and 59 Important Cultural Properties. There are many swords used in battle on display, and there are plenty of things to see to satisfy fans of the Sengoku Era. You will be drawn to the numerous priceless treasures that have been passed down over the generations of the Tokugawa family. You will also want to take note of the opulent lifestyle of the Tokugawa family back in the day through their items such as beautiful kimono and furnishings. There are 6 exhibition rooms in total. Exhibition Room 1 displays the swords and armor, symbols of a samurai. Room 2 specializes in the tea ceremony, Room 3 is the arrangement of Japanese tea utensils, Room 4 has a Noh stage, and Room 5 has daily utensils used by the wives of daimyo. In Room 6, beautiful calligraphy and paintings can be observed up close, and it is also famous for the scroll of The Tale of Genji which has been preserved as a National Treasure.  

The Tokugawa Art Museum has volunteer staff providing commentary on the exhibits and interactive learning for travelers who want to learn deeply about history. There is also the Tokugawa Tea Party where you can observe tea ceremony utensils closely. Since schedules and times will differ for events, it is necessary to check the museum homepage, but if you have the chance, please participate by all means. In addition, along with the permanent exhibitions, there are also the special temporary exhibitions which cannot be missed. Items such as the National Treasure of the scroll of The Tale of Genji are displayed via their reproductions, but you must check out the actual items when they are displayed from time to time.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,200 / Child: ¥ 500

Guidebook from Planetyze about Tokugawa Art Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tokugawa Art Museum
Tours of Tokugawa Art Museum

Nagoya City Science Museum

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At the science museum located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, there is the globe-shaped planetarium, Brother Earth, which opened in 2010 and whose dome measures 35 meters in diameter. This planetarium which looks outstanding from the outside was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest planetarium in 2011. To show a truly endless starry sky, it uses the latest technology such as the Universarium Model IX planetarium (optical planetarium) and the Skymax DSII (digital planetarium). However, what is attractive to many fans of the planetarium is talk on the starry sky, constellations and outer space through the careful commentary by the traditional-style curators. An environment where you can relax as if you were truly amid nature has been created with natural sound effects as you leisurely view the starry sky from your seats.

There are four types of major exhibits at the museum: the planetarium, the Science & Technology building where many exhibits regarding energy and scientific technology are on display, the Life Sciences building where you can learn about the human body and life, and the interactive displays. First off, there is the Water Plaza. Here, there are plenty of ways from which you can learn regarding the quality of water on the Earth such as models. Then, there is the Tornado Lab where you can witness an air vortex that soars as high as 9 meters. Furthermore, there is the Electric Discharge Lab where you can see actual fireworks of electricity through violent discharges. Finally, there is the Deep Freezing Lab where you can experience freezing temperatures of -30 degrees and view an aurora. All of them are on a visitor capacity system, so either check the homepage or make inquiries as soon as you enter the museum regarding the distribution of numbered tickets. In addition, at the Life Sciences Building and the Planetarium, experimental classes are held on a monthly basis. They are learning classes where you can actually experiment with the peculiarities of the human body and about space. Again, please check the schedule on the homepage. From 2014, an English audio guide was also started. If you download an app onto your smartphone, you can get an explanation in English for a part of the exhibits within the museum.

Admission: ¥ 400 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Nagoya City Science Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nagoya City Science Museum
Tours of Nagoya City Science Museum

Noritake Garden

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Noritake is a company famous as a manufacturer of ceramics, and the garden was built on the factory’s premises. From a tour of the factory to the restaurant, it is a multipurpose complex where you can even enjoy trying ceramics painting. It was once a factory for the production of tableware but over the course of time, the manufacturing came to an end. On those premises, a park and a restaurant were built. The distinctive park makes use of the existing structures such as the red brick factory and part of the large chimney that once stood 45 meters tall. Along with the restaurant and shops, there are many examples of life such as insects and flora to create its own fully natural biotope. Entry is free so it is a popular tourist site as a multipurpose facility to which you can bring the family.  

First off, you can interact with the abundance of nature at Noritake Garden. An idea born in Germany, Noritake Garden was brought in here as a biotope, creating an environment of living things that can exist within the city. You can see insects, fish and wild birds here. Also, it’s a park with cherry and maple trees, and in the summer, the grass splendidly shines. Noritake is a manufacturer of fine ceramics. At the craft shop in Noritake Garden, you can take a look at everything from the manufacturing of bone china to ceramics painting (only this area requires a fee). There is also a museum where you can view exhibits such as elegant decorative plates created in the Meiji Era by Noritake. Furthermore, you can do your own ceramics painting of an original plate or mug. For a separate charge, an oven-fired creation can be delivered overseas to your home, so please give it a try as a memento of your trip. At the shops, you can also purchase tableware. And at the adjacent restaurant, Noritake ware is used.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Noritake Garden
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Noritake Garden
Tours of Noritake Garden

SCMaglev and Railway Park

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The history of Japanese railways has continued to develop alongside the changes in people’s lifestyles. At the SCMaglev and Railway Park which was built from the concept of “A place of dreams and memories”, you can view 38 actual trains up close. Starting with the 1913 steam locomotive, one of three examples of train that had achieved the world’s highest speeds along with the Shinkansen and linear motor car, a total of 38 trains are displayed ranging from the passenger trains and conventional trains used after the war to the intergenerational Bullet Trains. Each train has a different shape and different colors in the exhibition area which will have hearts racing just from looking at them. Since they can also be boarded here, you can enjoy a full experience of watching, touching and getting on the trains. It’s irresistible for train enthusiasts but even those who aren’t fans can enjoy themselves while viewing the trains actually used through the history and evolution of Japan’s railway system.

This is a museum where not only 38 actual trains can be toured up close, but it can also be enjoyed by visitors ranging from small kids to train-loving enthusiasts. However, there are still many more attractions. First off, there is a railway diorama where you can enjoy the scenery around the Tokaido Shinkansen which boasts the largest area of any diorama in Japan. Plus, the simulator where you can enjoy the experience of operating a Bullet or a conventional train is also a hit with visitors. Furthermore, there are plenty of exhibition areas where you can find out about Japanese railway technology in detail such as the area covering the history of the railways, the section devoted to the superconducting maglev train, and the learning section on matters such as the application of magnetic power to the Shinkansen. A play room has been provided for children who under elementary school age so it’s a museum where the entire family can enjoy themselves. There is guidance naturally in English but also in other languages as well, so for people who don’t understand Japanese, there should be no worries.  

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,000 / Child: ¥ 500

Guidebook from Planetyze about SCMaglev and Railway Park
Reviews from TripAdvisor about SCMaglev and Railway Park
Tours of SCMaglev and Railway Park

Toyota Related Sights

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The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology has preserved the Toyota factory that was launched in the Taisho Era as a place to be used as a museum for its valuable industrial heritage. There are 4 pavilions: the Textile Machinery Pavilion, the Automobile Pavilion, Technoland, and the Toyota Group Building. The red-brick buildings themselves are preserved as valuable structures. There is a circular loom displayed in the museum lobby which was constructed by Sakichi Toyoda, the father of Kiichiro Toyoda who had established Toyota before it became an automobile manufacturer. The loom was built to display the technical prowess of the Japanese at a time when the nation still depended on Western technology, and it has become a symbol of the museum. As well, the museum has been recognized as a Heritage of Industrial Modernization for its contribution to Japan’s modernization.  

The Toyota Automobile Museum is a place where you can learn about the history of the car from the development of gas-powered automobiles of the late 19th century to 20th-century cars through the actual autos themselves. On the 2nd floor, there are Western cars on display while on the 3rd floor, there are Japanese cars for a total of 120 examples that you can view closely. Also in the Annex, there is information and displays of cars regarding the history of Japanese people in tandem with the automobile. There is also a space for children, restaurants, and a souvenir shop where you can purchase things such as minicars. It is a museum where you can spend an entire day with the whole family.

The headquarters for Toyota’s factories is located in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. The Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall which is also in Toyota City has exhibitions of the latest safety-conscious technology, starting from the new technology for vehicles such as hybrid cars and fuel-cell cars.  At the Virtual Factory, you can learn about things such as the factory manufacturing process through videos. To reach Toyota Kaikan requires a 1-hour train trip from Nagoya Station. For Toyota fans, this is a tourist spot that cannot be missed.

Admission: Various

Guidebook from Planetyze about Toyota Related Sights
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Toyota Related Sights
Tours of Toyota Related Sights

Written by Luke Kinsella

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GoWithGuide’s writers are passionate travel specialists sharing unique tips and essential information for global explorers.

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