Traveling Japan - around Nagoya

Where do you go if you want to see traditional Japan? Where do you take your friends or family coming to visit you?
Kyoto and Nara, isnft it?

But actually, there are impressive traditional places just next to Nagoya worth a visit.

I hope this small list will give you some travel ideas.

In the closest proximity of Nagoya there are several very interesting towns still keeping their traditional look.

Inuyama is one of them. You might have heard of it because of Meiji Mura. But apart from Meiji Mura ? an artificial theme park, in Inuyama itself there are great sights.

Inuyama castle is one of the very few original castles left in Japan. Next to it is the old town, definitely worth a walk through. The best time to go there is during the annual festival time in April ? the streets of the old town are full of people and wonderful floats with mechanical puppets ? very spectacular.

Yes, the area around Nagoya is full of spectacular matsuri.

Arimatsu is a little town very famous for its particular traditional art of tie-dyeing (shibori). Itfs also best visited during the yearly matsuri in summer, but even on an ordinary day the atmosphere of the town is there, with a shibori museum showing in details the technic and a museum of the festival floats giving you part of the spirit and excitement of the matsuri.

Near Nagoya there are two of the most famous pottery centers in Japan.

The name of Tokoname is now mainly associated with the new airport Centrair, but the town has its own fame ? its pottery. A walk around the old town will take couple of hours, taking you up and down hills covered with pretty traditional houses and as many pottery shops and galleries as you like. You can even try making pottery by yourself. The summer pottery festival in August brings all the shops and artists on the street with their collections and you can spend hours browsing around. The festival finishes with amazing fireworks.

Seto is the other pottery center in the area. The pottery festival is the best time for visit, but there is also a wonderful pottery museum worth visiting any time.

If youfre ready to go a little bit further from Nagoya, say 2 hours by train, there is something else really worth the travel.

Takayama is a traditional Japanese mountain town preserved like a museum on the open air in Japanese Alps. The traditional style houses some of which are museums, the traditional style sake breweries where you can try some sake, traditional restaurants and ryokans ? everything keeps the history. Every day there is a morning market for local products ? food and art, which is very entertaining. There are several very interesting museums ? Takayamafs famous lacquer ware, the museum of mechanical puppets and the museum of festival floats are the most impressive ones. Takayama holds two festivals every year, from which the spring matsuri is said to be one of the three most beautiful in Japan. Takayama area is also famous for its onsens ? you might as well like to explore them.

From Takayama if you take a bus, deeper in the mountains youfll discover the beauty of Shirakawa-go ? a traditional mountain village with those famous thatched houses. Itfs spectacular any time of the year. Ifve been there four times will always go again if I have a chance. Some of the houses are museums, some are ryokans (and that is a real experience to stay over night in one of those 100-year-old houses with all the natural and historical beauty around you!).Walk around the narrow streets and youfll feel like taken 100 years back, to that slow ordinary mountain life.

Now going back to Nagoya and taking you south.

Ise is a small town, famous for its Shinto shrine ? ranking one of the most important shrines in Japan. The shrine complex is vast, comprising numerous big and little shrines in a very traditional Shinto architectural style. Next to the shrine is the nice traditional town- one main street with all sort of traditional shops and restaurants. Itfs better to go not on a week-end or national holiday as the place is extremely popular and gets very crowded. But is a definite must see.