11:00 - 9th May 2015, by NEO Staff

Nagoya: You Make Miso Happy!

Although it is Japan’s fourth largest city, Nagoya is often overlooked by your average fan of Japan – and, to be brutally honest, it is not too difficult to see why. Smaller cities dotted around the country can pack a mighty punch in regards to drawing in huge crowds; Kobe has its beef, Naha has its beaches, Sapporo has its snow… Nagoya, on the other hand, is a bit of a blank slate when it comes to tourist appeal. However, after living here for six years, I absolutely love Nagoya and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Nagoya is big enough to allow you to slip into the crowd inconspicuously (as I often do), but has pockets of extremely specialized and tight-knit communities including filmmakers, documentarians, theatre groups, comic jams, independent publishers, bloggers, vloggers and podcasters, all of which are always looking for like minded new members.

It is also a real hotspot for music: the vast majority of my friends are musicians, DJs or both, and there is a plethora of live houses and clubs all over the city, which range from huge halls to miniscule cubby holes that seem crammed if ten people show up.

The food in Nagoya can be an acquired taste, with miso playing a huge part in most dishes, from miso katsu (deep fried pork) to miso nikomi udon (a stew-like noodle dish). There is even a miso-spliced beer that is far better than you might imagine. Kishimen are Nagoya’s specialty noodle, a thicker cut than normal with rough edges, and tebasaki are plain awesome, spicy chicken, which give buffalo wings a run for their money.

The city is easy to get around and each area has something different to offer. Sakae and Yabacho are filled with department stores, shops, cafes and restaurants, whilst Nagoya station has more izakaya (like a pub, but with raw fish) than your average drunk salaryman could visit in his lifetime. Osu Kannon is a large shopping district with a huge temple that has a flea market every month, and the best New Year celebrations in the city. As well as temples, Nagoya has a long list of shrines, the best of which is most definitely Atsuta, which is so large and serene you forget you are in the heart of a bustling metropolis.

If you do visit Japan, Nagoya may be little else than a Shinkansen station you change at, or a blip on the radar that you’ll hardly notice, which is a real shame. If you can peel back the grey exterior and look a little deeper, you’ll find a city that is both friendly and lively… but, even if first impressions are the be-all-and-end-all, we have snow-capped mountains, beaches and beautiful valleys all a short train ride away. You can even stock up on miso-beer for the journey!

TAGS: Nagoya
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