The 45,000-seat Toyota Stadium is home to Nagoya Grampus Eight football club (the J1 club formerly of Gary Lineker and Arsene Wenger fame), and one of the most architecturally impressive of the lot. Yes, it’s the same Toyota as the car company – Toyota is in fact the name of the city where the company is based (Toyota-shi), now an outlying suburb of Greater Nagoya. Toyota will host 4 pool matches in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
23 September Wales vs Georgia
28 September South Africa vs Namibia
5 October Japan vs Samoa
12 October New Zealand vs Italy
Access to Toyota Stadium is via the Meitetsu railway (aka Nagoya Railroad), a privately operated train network covering the greater Nagoya region. Meitetsu Nagoya Station is just next to the main JR Nagoya Station, and it’s 50 to 60 minutes from there to Toyota-shi Station with a change at Chiryu. You can also transfer to Meitetsu from JR at Toyo-hashi (possibly useful if coming from points east, it’s a shinkansen stop but note the faster Nozomi & Hikari trains skip it). If you’re coming from within Nagoya but not staying near the Meitetsu terminus at Nagoya Station, it’s probably best to use the blue subway line as there are actually direct trains to Toyota-shi where the subway train runs through onto the Meitetsu tracks. This means you don’t need to physically change trains, but you do still have to pay both companies for a ticket – easiest way to do this is by using an IC card which works it all out automatically when you tap in & out. Also note that not every subway train runs through, with some terminating at Akaike – if your train does this, just hop off and wait for one going on through to Toyota-shi.
Sound complicated? As always, check Hyperdia for train route details and just follow the suggested route (see here for an explanation on using Hyperdia). IC cards are accepted on all of the Meitetsu, JR, and subway lines; if you get a card in Nagoya it’ll be Toica (if issued by JR) or Manaca (if issued by non-JR companies), but they can be used interchangeably and all the IC cards from other regions also work e.g. Tokyo’s Suica and Pasmo cards. See here for more on IC cards.
Once you reach Toyota-shi Station it’s just a 15-minute walk east to the stadium over the futuristic Toyota Bridge crossing the Yahagi River.
Hotels near Toyota Stadium
The following links are for Agoda, which is usually best for online bookings in Japan. For easiest access to the stadium, base yourself locally in Toyota-shi if you can (don’t expect too much by way of nightlife though, other than a reasonable selection of restaurants); search & book hotels in Toyota
If you prefer to be near the main nightlife, shopping, and city sights of Nagoya, Sakae would be a good call (search here), as would Osu-Kannon (search here). Staying near Nagoya Station (search here) is best for all-round convenience (easy access from other cities, easy access to the stadium, easy access to Sakae), or failing that anywhere with easy access to the blue subway line should work fine.
Airbnb is also a great option in Japan, in fact in Japan it seems to work particularly well – most hosts arrange self-checkin & checkout systems, allowing you to arrive & leave flexibly without needing to meet someone for the keys (the key’s often left in a lockbox for you). The wifi is always super-fast, and I’ve never had an Airbnb nightmare in Japan (have had a few elsewhere). There was a crackdown in summer 2018 with the introduction of new regulations requiring Airbnb hosts to have a specific licence (with some regional variations in the details) which led to a collapse in the number of listings available and accordingly a jump in prices, with a lot of travellers reporting that their reservations were suddenly cancelled as a result. It was all a bit of a mess at first, but the situation has calmed down now and you can be confident that any listings remaining on there at this point are legit. Prices have gone up but then so have minimum standards, and Airbnb is still my usual go to for accommodation in Japan.
New users can get a $35 discount from their first Airbnb rental through Rugby Guide Japan, simply click here and sign up.
Things to Do in Nagoya
Shopping in Nagoya
Sakae is the main shopping & entertainment district in Nagoya, home to multiple department stores and shopping complexes as well as the city’s main nightlife spots. The main landmark in the area is the old Nagoya TV Tower which you’ll find just north of Sakae Station, with the modern Oasis 21 complex next to it.
As well as Sakae there’s the Osu shopping district near Osu-Kannon temple (see below), a network of covered shopping arcades that stretch from the temple over to Kamimaezu Station. Such shopping arcade (‘shotengai’) districts are common in all Japanese cities, but Osu is one of the most famous. Don’t come here for designer goods, but rather for a more local, daily life shopping experience – clothes, cosmetics, drugstores, 100 yen shops, cheap & cheerful eateries, coffee shops, electronics, and assorted randomness. Everyone living in Japanese cities shops in their local shotengai at least some of the time, so it’s good for a wander and a spot of people watching after visiting the temple. See here for more info
As in all Japanese cities, watering holes, kakaroke halls, and late-night eateries are found all over the place, but the main concentration of bars & izakayas is in the Sakae area. Despite the size of the place, Nagoya isn’t exactly renowned for its clubbing scene; the most obvious place to go get your drunken dancing shoes on is Club ID, about a 10-minute walk southwest of the TV Tower.
Skyscraper viewing decks: get a bird’s-eye view of the city from one of the skyscrapers above Nagoya Station. Midland Square is the highest building in Nagoya with the ‘Sky Promenade’ up top (see here), while the JR Central Office Tower is a fraction shorter but its ‘Panorama Salon’ (see here) has better windows.
Osu-Kannon Temple: Nagoya’s most famous temple, next to its most famous shopping streets. Visiting both together is a decent way to spend a few daytime hours in Nagoya before or after grabbing lunch in the area. See here for more info
Nagoya Castle: located at the northern end of the main downtown area (right outside Shiyakusho Station), Nagoya Castle was one of the largest in Japan but the original was destroyed in WWII bombing raids. The 1950s concrete reconstruction of the main keep has been one of the city’s main sights since then, but that’s just been demolished to make way for a more authentic wooden reconstruction. Unfortunately this won’t be finished until 2022, but if you’re in town for the World Cup you can still visit to see the grounds & castle complex including the recently completed reconstruction of the Hommaru Palace.
Toyota Kaikan Museum & plant tour: Toyota HQ is located in Toyota-shi, a few miles south of the stadium. There you’ll find the main company museum (‘Toyota Kaikan’), and daily plant tours (available in English) can be taken with advance reservation. See here for details. Toyota also has a technology museum located downtown, about a mile north of Nagoya Station (see here)
Suggested Side Trips from Nagoya
Takayama: an attractive little town in the mountains north of Nagoya with a well-preserved old quarter. It takes 2 hours on the Hida express train direct from Nagoya with some nice scenery along the route, so you can visit on a fairly long day trip or stay for a night or two. The Hida Folk village on the edge of town features a collection of traditional local buildings with the distinctive steep roofs associated with this rural mountainous region, and for many Japanese the local beef actually beats the more widely-famous Kobe beef. Search Agoda for hotels in Takayama
Matsumoto Castle: one of the few surviving castles from the feudal era, Matsumoto Castle is known as Crow Castle. Matsumoto is well placed if you’re looking for a good stop en route between Tokyo and Nagoya, being 2-3 hours from each by limited express train. Search Agoda for hotels in Matsumoto
Kyoto: if you only visit one extra-curricular city, it should probably be the old capital Kyoto. Far surpassed by Tokyo these days in terms of size, it remains a living treasure of Japanese history and traditional culture (while still being a sizeable modern Japanese city). It’s only 35 to 50 minutes from Nagoya to Kyoto by bullet train so you could feasibly visit on a day trip from Nagoya (especially if you’re using the JR Pass), though of course it’s better to visit for at least a few days. For more on Kyoto see here
Lake Hamana & Kanzanji Onsen: Hamanako is one of Japan’s largest lakes, located just west of Hamamatsu and meeting the Pacific at its southern tip. Kanzanji Onsen on the lake’s eastern shore is home to an ancient temple, a range of hotels & ryokan with hot springs, plus an amusement park & ropeway, with sightseeing cruises also operating on the lake. It’s just a 40-minute bus ride from Hamamatsu Station (with one or two buses per hour through the day), and it would make a good way to pass a few relaxing days before or after a match in Toyota (or in Shizuoka). This could be of particular interest to South Africa fans attending the Namibia & Italy games which are just 6 days apart at Toyota & Ecopa, respectively; you could spend a few days in Nagoya for the Namibia match, followed with a few days chilling by the lake before the Italy match at Ecopa. Search Agoda for hotels in Kanzanji Onsen
Any questions about Nagoya or Toyota Stadium? Give me a shout below and I’ll get back to you.
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