The area around Nagoya Castle (MAP) was one of the first-settled areas of the city. The old castle town borders, built in 1612, correspond to modern-day Naka ward. This district has traditionally been the center of government for the city, and for Aichi Prefecture in general. It is home to a range of government institutions, and there are a number of architecturally significant buildings to be found here.
Access to the area is via Shiyakusho subway station on the Meijo subway line, and Higashi-Ote station, on the Meitetsu Seto Line. The first building you are likely to notice upon exiting the subway station is the distinctive Nagoya City Hall [shiyakusho]. Across the street, the City Hall West Annex contains a number of city offices. Further south is the Aichi Prefectural Government Office [kencho].
The main hotel in the area is The Westin Nagoya Castle, to the west. It has some very good restaurants, and many of its rooms enjoy excellent views of the castle.
Nagoya Castle and its surrounding buildings are a popular tourist attraction. The castle was rebuilt in 1959, after its destruction during World War II, and now houses a museum containing artifacts from the Edo period. To the north, Meijo Park (MAP) is one of the largest green spaces in the city, and even comes with its own Dutch-style windmill. Nearby, Ninomaru Garden is a delightful traditional Japanese-style garden, which employs rocks, trees and water to create the ambience of a mountain forest.
South of Ninomaru, the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium (MAP) is a Mecca for fitness buffs, and also hosts the annual Nagoya Sumo Tournament every July.
For traditional theater, head to the Nagoya Noh Theater [Nagoya nohgaku-do]. This purpose-built 630-seat facility stages performances of Noh, an ancient form of Japanese drama, and includes a small museum.
The Nagoya City Archives building was built in 1922 as a high court. Today, it is classified as an Important National Cultural Asset, and serves as a museum of Nagoya’s civic history.
The Tokugawa Museum, (MAP) to the east of the castle, boasts a superbly-presented collection of important artifacts from the Tokugawa era. Its prize possession is a 12th-century illustrated scroll of the Tale of Genji.