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Getting There

By Plane -- Known officially as the Central Japan International Airport (NGO) but dubbed Centrair (tel. 0569/38-1195; www.centrair.jp/en), this airport occupies a man-made island in Ise Bay about 35km (22 miles) outside Nagoya. It boasts two hotels; 130 shops and restaurants (including Japan's largest duty-free store); ATMs in the arrival lobby that accept foreign credit cards; coin-operated computers (¥100 for 10 min.); a health clinic; post office; and even hot-spring baths, Fu-no-Yu (tel. 0569/38-7070; daily 8am-10pm), with views of planes landing and taking off. A Tourist Information Center (TIC; tel. 0569/38-1050; daily 9am-7pm) is located past the arrivals hall, but little English is spoken.

Meitetsu trains (www.meitetsu.co.jp) connect Centrair with Nagoya Station in 40 minutes by regular train (¥850) or in 28 minutes by express (¥1,200). A taxi from Centrair to downtown Nagoya will run about ¥14,000 and take 50 minutes.

By JR Train -- The fastest way to get to Nagoya from Tokyo is by Shinkansen bullet train, which takes approximately 2 hours from Tokyo Station to JR Nagoya Station and costs ¥10,070 for an unreserved seat. Nagoya is 40 minutes from Kyoto and about 1 hour from Shin-Osaka Station.

By Bus -- From Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, the JR Highway Bus (tel. 03/3515-1950; www.jrbuskanto.co.jp) costs ¥5,100 one-way for the 6-hour trip, with several departures daily. From Kyoto, the Highway Bus costs ¥2,500 and takes 2 3/4 hours; from Osaka, the trip takes just over 3 hours and costs ¥2,900. Willer Express (tel. 050/5805-0383; http://willerexpress.com) buses depart Tokyo's Shinjuku Station approximately four times daily, arriving at Nagoya Station approximately 6 hours later. The cost of these range from ¥3,200 to ¥7,500 depending on the date and type of seat; only online reservations are accepted.

Visitor Information

Before departing Tokyo or Narita or Kansai international airports, stop by the Tourist Information Center for the leaflet "Nagoya and Vicinity," which contains a city map and transportation and sightseeing information (you can also download it from the Japan National Tourist Organization's website at www.jnto.go.jp by looking under "Browse by Destinations"). In Nagoya Station, the Nagoya Tourist Information Center (TIC; tel. 052/541-4301; daily 9am-7pm) is in the central concourse (look for the "?" signs) and has maps and brochures. There's another Tourist Information Center downtown, in the basement of Oasis 21 (which looks like a space ship) on Hisaya Dori near Sakae Station (tel. 052/963-5252; daily 10am-8pm).

Another good source for information is the Nagoya International Center, an 8-minute walk from Nagoya Station's Central exit straight down Sakura Dori (or take the subway one stop to Kokusai Center Station), located on the third floor of the Nagoya International Center Building, 1-47-1 Nagono (tel. 052/581-0100; www.nic-nagoya.or.jp; Tues-Sun 9am-7pm; closed second Sun in Feb and Aug). It's one of Japan's best facilities for foreign visitors and residents, with an English-speaking staff, a lounge area with a TV featuring CNN newscasts, Internet access, and lots of information on the city, including the free monthly publications Nagoya Calendar and Avenues. The center also offers practical advice on living in Japan, from how to get a visa to which doctors speak English. On the fourth floor, you can apply to visit a Japanese family in their home in the local Home-Visit System. You must apply in person, with your passport, no later than 5pm the day before your intended visit. Call tel. 052/581-5689 for details; the earlier you reserve, the better your chances of finding a family.

For recorded English-language information on events, concerts, festivals, and the arts, call tel. 052/581-0400; or go to www.nic-nagoya.or.jp. You can check the city's website at www.ncvb.or.jp.

Internet Access -- The Nagoya International Center provides 15-minute Internet access for ¥100. Cheaper is Media Popeye, with two locations in downtown Nagoya: across from the TV Tower at 3-6-15 Nishiki (tel. 052/955-0059), and on the ninth floor of Become Sakae at 3-32-6 Sakae (tel. 052/242-8369). Both are open 24 hours and charge ¥250 for 1 hour.

Money/Mail -- Nagoya's Central Post Office (tel. 052/564-2106), located to the left of the Sakura exit of JR Nagoya Station, is open for mail and money exchange Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. In addition to a counter open 24 hours for mail, it has ATMs open 12:05am to 11:55pm Monday through Saturday and 12:05am to 8pm on Sunday.

Orientation

Almost completely destroyed during World War II, Nagoya was rebuilt with wide, straight streets, many of which are named.

The ultramodern, twin-towered JR Nagoya Station, with its many train lines (including the Shinkansen), soars more than 50 stories above the skyline and contains Takashimaya department store, Tokyu Hands, a Marriott hotel, many restaurants, and an observatory. Built in 1999, it has been recognized by Guinness World Records as being the world's largest building containing a railway station. Clustered nearby are the Meitetsu Bus Terminal, Meitetsu Nagoya Station, the city bus terminal (on the second floor of Matsuzakaya department floor), Kintetsu Station, and a subway station for the Sakura-dori and Higashiyama lines, as well as many hotels and a huge underground shopping arcade that stretches 6km (3 3/4 miles) and includes about 600 shops.

Most of the city's attractions spread out east of Nagoya Station (the Central/Sakura-dori exit), including Sakae, the city's downtown area, located two subway stops from Nagoya Station and with many shops, restaurants, bars, and department stores. Also in Sakae is Hisaya Odori, a wide boulevard that stretches north and south with a park and a TV tower in its green meridian. North of Hisaya Odori is Nagoya Castle, while south is Atsuta Jingu Shrine.

A Note on Directions -- All directions in the listings are from Nagoya Station unless otherwise noted; the time in parentheses indicates walking time from the subway or bus stop indicated.

Getting Around

The fastest way to get around is via the city's eight-line subway system, which is simple to use because station names, written in both English and Japanese, are assigned both a letter (representing the line; H, for example, is for the Higashiyama Line) and a number (so you can count how many stops before your destination). There are also English-language announcements and digital signs in trains. Probably the most important line for tourists is the loop Meijo Line, which runs through Sakae underneath Hisaya Odori and takes you to both Nagoya Castle (Station: Shiyakusho) and Atsuta Jingu Shrine (Station: Jingu-Nishi), with a branch, the Meiko Line, terminating at Nagoya Port with its aquarium. If you take the Meijo Line in the opposite direction, you'll eventually end up at the -- I like this -- Ozone stop. Individual tickets for the subway are ¥200 to ¥320, depending on the distance.

The Nagoya Sightseeing Route Bus (called Me-guru in Japanese) departs from platform 0 of the city bus terminal (on the second floor of Matsuzakaya department store, to the left after exiting Nagoya Station) and is convenient for traveling to the Toyota museum, Noritake Garden, Nagoya Castle, Tokugawa Art Museum, and Sakae. It costs ¥200 per trip or ¥500 for the Me-guru 1-Day (the pass also gives slight discounts to most sights). It operates from 9:30am to about 5pm, hourly Tuesday through Friday and twice an hour weekends and holidays.

For city buses, you'll pay a flat fare of ¥200. There's also the private Meitetsu Bus Line with a terminal located at Nagoya Station; for these buses, take a ticket and pay the exact fare according to the digital panel display at the front when you get off.

There are several transportation passes worth considering if you'll be traveling a lot within a single day. For subways, there's the Ichinichi Jo-sha, a 1-day pass for ¥740 that allows you to ride as much as you want for a full day; for ¥850 you can ride as much as you want on subways, city buses, and Me-guru sightseeing bus. On the weekends the Eco Pass for ¥600 allows unlimited rides on subways and buses. For more information, drop by a Transportation Bureau Service Center (at Nagoya, Sakae, Kanayama, and other major stations), call tel. 052/522-0111, or go to the website www.kotsu.city.nagoya.jp/english.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.