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The Expat's Guide to Nagoya: Top 10 Family Friendly Activities

Expat's Guide to Nagoya

Photo Credit: Nagoya Convention & Visitors Bureau

At NIS, we understand that moving to a new country like Japan can stir up a mix of emotions. The uncertainty, the unfamiliarity – it's all part of the package of life as an expat family. But it's also a chance to take a journey filled with exciting possibilities and experience tons of family friendly activities. We've been talking to expats just like you, families who once stood where you stand now, unsure about what lay ahead, and asked for their input on creating a Nagoya guide to support new families, providing a list of family friendly activities to be enjoyed. By embracing the adventure of moving to Japan, they discovered activities that not only helped them settle in but also made Japan feel like home. Here is a recommended list of the top 10 destinations for family-friendly activities in Japan.


Your Nagoya Guide - Let’s Explore Nagoya and our Favorite Family Friendly Activities!

We reached out to our community of expatriates and asked this question: What are your favorite family friendly activities in Nagoya? Here’s a short list of our top 10 family friendly activities to help you get excited about your new life in Nagoya, Japan.

Nagoya Castle in Nagoya Japan

Photo Credit: Nagoya Convention & Visitors Bureau

1. Visit Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle offers an excellent starting point for newcomers to Nagoya. Uncover the rich heritage of this historic site, once a seat of power, and now a symbol of Nagoya's resilience. From its towering stone walls to the elegant architecture, exploring Nagoya Castle is a family friendly activity to connect with the city's past while creating lasting memories for your family.



Legoland Japan Resort

2. Explore Legoland Japan Resort

While living in Nagoya, you have the chance to experience the magic of Legoland right at your doorstep. Whether it's the thrilling rides, creative brick-building zones, or captivating shows, Legoland offers endless family-friendly fun for children and adults alike. Immerse yourself in the colorful world of Lego, where imagination knows no bounds. Make unforgettable memories with your family as you explore Legoland's diverse attractions, making the most of your time with this Nagoya guide by your side.



 JR Central Towers

winhorse, "JR Central Towers." Canva. November 14th, 2023

3. Shop at JR Central Towers

Discover a perfect family-day-out activity, and explore shopping at JR Central Towers and the connected Gate Tower Mall at Nagoya Station. As an expat, this bustling shopping complex offers a blend of convenience and luxury right in the heart of the city's bustling transportation center. Explore a variety of shops, from high-end boutiques to international brands including the popular Japanese brand Uniqlo, and familiar stores like Disney and Converse. There are also great options for dining, whether it is a quick treat at Starbucks, a luxurious brunch at Sarabeth's, or an evening at an elegant Japanese restaurant. Whether you're hunting for fashion, accessories, electronics, or a delicious meal, there's something for everyone. 

“My favorites are walking around Osu, the areas surrounding the TV Tower (Hisyaodori Park), the shops in the underground there and by Nagoya Station. Also, the shops in PARCO and the JR Tower. We find a lot of fun things there. Movies in English are common but we have the best luck at the Midland Square Cinema as well.” - NIS Parent

 Eat Like a Local and have Misokatsu

4. Eat Like a Local and have Misokatsu!

Indulge in a true Nagoyan culinary delight - Misokatsu - at "Misokatsu Yabaton", where locals and visitors alike savor the taste of a beloved dish. Located in the heart of Nagoya, this restaurant is renowned for its misokatsu – a twist on the traditional tonkatsu. Sink your teeth into succulent pork cutlets coated with a flavorful miso-based sauce, perfectly balancing savory and sweet flavors. The restaurant's warm ambiance and attentive service make it an ideal place to experience a slice of local life while relishing a uniquely Nagoyan dining experience. A great aspect of the expat life is the wealth of family friendly activities available to try new things; encourage your children to give new or unfamiliar foods a try, and you might have a budding foodie on your hands thanks to this Nagoya guide!


Morikoro Park

5. Have a Stroll in Morikoro Park and Ghibli Amusement Park

Within the expansive beauty of Morikoro Park lies a place that's sure to capture the hearts of young and old alike – the Ghibli Amusement Park. Created in collaboration with the renowned Studio Ghibli, this park is a dream come true for fans of the beloved animation studio. Step into the enchanting world of Studio Ghibli as you explore the park's whimsical attractions. From the iconic Catbus that will transport you to magical places to the charming Howl's Moving Castle, every corner of the park is infused with the spirit of Ghibli's unforgettable stories. Meet beloved characters like Totoro and Kiki, and immerse yourself in the worlds of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke. The Ghibli Amusement Park is not just an amusement park; it's a journey into the imagination of Hayao Miyazaki and a chance to experience the magic of Ghibli's animated tales.


Port of Nagoya Aquarium

6. Enjoy a Day Out at Port of Nagoya Aquarium 

An essential component of any Nagoya guide, this captivating attraction offers a day filled with marine wonders and aquatic excitement. From mesmerizing dolphin and beluga whale performances to immersive exhibits showcasing diverse sea creatures, your family will be awed by the underwater world. The whole family can learn about marine conservation while enjoying up-close encounters with various marine species. With its educational and entertaining approach, the Port of Nagoya Aquarium promises a family friendly day of fun, learning, and unforgettable memories for the entire family.

Traditional Japanese Kimono

7. Seek Out Traditional Japanese Kimono Experience

This unique activity in our Nagoya guide allows you and your family to don authentic Japanese attire, embracing the elegance and artistry of kimono wearing. From selecting intricate patterns to learning the art of putting on a kimono, this experience offers a deep connection to Japan's rich heritage. Stroll through historic streets, visit shrines, or even take part in cultural events while dressed in this iconic attire. It's a memorable and family-friendly way for your family to not only explore Nagoya but also participate in a centuries-old Japanese tradition.



Japan's rich history at Atsuta Shrine

Cheng CJ, "Entrance to Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan." Canva. November 14th, 2023

8. Connect with Japan’s History at Atsuta Shrine

Immerse yourself in Japan's rich history at Atsuta Shrine, a revered sanctuary that echoes with centuries of tradition and is an essential addition to any Nagoya guide. Located between the port and the center of the city, this sacred site is one of the country's most cherished Shinto shrines, embodying both spiritual significance and historical importance. As you stroll through the grounds, you'll encounter ancient trees (including a 1,000-year-old camphor tree!), tranquil ponds, and intricately designed architecture. The shrine's main hall houses the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, one of Japan's three imperial regalia. As the spiritual center of the city, it is also the site of various festivals and events throughout the year, including the Atsuta Matsuri in early June. And don't be surprised to see the ceremonial laden Shinto wedding on display on any given day. Whether you're seeking a serene space for contemplation, a deeper connection with Japan's cultural heritage, or to experience a traditional festival like the Atsuta Matsuri, Atsuta Shrine offers a profound journey into the nation's history.


SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

9. Visit SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

Explore the fascinating world of trains at SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya. Perfect for families seeking a day of learning and fun, this railway museum offers an immersive experience into Japan's impressive railway history. Get up close to a stunning collection of vintage and modern trains, including the futuristic maglev trains. From the clatter of wheels to the awe-inspiring engineering, both children and adults will be captivated by the interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Dive into the heart of Japan's locomotive heritage and discover the evolution of rail travel in a dynamic and family-friendly environment.


Beauty of Japan's great outdoors

10. Explore the Outdoors - in the City!

Discover the beauty of Japan's great outdoors even in the city! Nagoya has many city parks, and one of the favorites noted by our families is "Heiwa Koen" (Heiwa Park). In the heart of Nagoya, this lush green haven invites you to unwind, recharge, and connect with nature. From serene ponds to picturesque walking trails, Heiwa Park offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city life. Join us as we explore this hidden gem and embrace the adventure of living in Japan. Nature enthusiasts, families, and anyone seeking a breath of fresh air will find solace in the serene embrace of Heiwa Park.

“I love going to the parks. We like to walk at night especially in the summer or hotter months to just see the city in a different way. One of our favorite parks is Heiwa Koen. But there are loads all over so we just pick an area and explore.” - NIS Parent


Start planning your family's adventures in Nagoya and explore the possibilities of Nagoya International School.

Intrigued by the myriad experiences that await in Nagoya? The city's vibrant fusion of tradition and modernity, along with its family-friendly attractions, has the power to transform your expat journey into an unforgettable adventure. From the awe-inspiring Nagoya Castle to the exhilarating Legoland Japan Resort, and from the rich history at Atsuta Shrine to the tranquility of Heiwa Park, Nagoya offers something for every member of your family to enjoy. As you begin envisioning your new life in this captivating city, remember that Nagoya International School is here to provide not only an exceptional education but also a supportive community to help you navigate your transition. With an enriching environment for both learning and exploring, Nagoya truly holds the potential to become your family's second home. Embrace the opportunities, embrace the culture, and embrace the adventure. Your journey in Nagoya awaits – start planning and exploring today!

Download our checklist and prepare for your adventure in Nagoya

Embrace the opportunities, embrace the culture, and embrace the adventure. Your journey in Nagoya awaits – start planning and exploring today!

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