Things to do in Nagoya with kids (Japan for families)

A park in Nagoya, Japan. A visit to Nagoya can be a great rest from all the megalopolis lifestyle of Tokyo and Osaka, while still being big. Have you considered it for your trip? Click for more info!

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We had 10 days in Nagoya in January 2018. It was cold, and we were sick – not the best time for sightseeing. We managed to do very little during those times when the las sick person got better and before the next person fell ill.
We’ll definitely need to get back there some other time! But here’s our mini-guide to Nagoya with kids (Japan for families)!

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Things to do in Nagoya with kids

There were so many things we wanted to do, but in the end, we didn’t manage to do much due to the flu that assaulted our whole family. We managed to do very little, and here they are.

Satsuki and Mei's house, from the movie My neighbor Totoro (Ghibli Studios). It really exists and it's perfect! A great day out for those who love the movie! Click to know more!

That is *THE* house. I mean… LOVE. My heart was even beating a bit faster than usual. Call me a nerd, if you will. Or better, otaku.

  • Visit Satsuki and Mei’s house (from the movie My Neighbor Totoro)

This is the one thing I really needed and wanted to do, and I’m so glad we managed to!
It’s in the beautiful Moricoro Park, also known as Ai Chikyu-Haku Rinen Koen.
The house is absolutely gorgeous, beautiful, lovely, and perfect. Just as it was in the movie. They have the bucket with a hole and the acorns, clothes, real house things like plates, cups, and shoes (the actual girl’s shoes as they were in the movies), and all that.
It’s definitely worth a visit!

Buy your tickets online here and avoid problems!!!

It’s a bit far from Nagoya city, you’ll need to take the Linimo train line, which is a bit more expensive (and also comfier) but the park is great and the visit to the house is cheap (¥510 for adults and ¥250 for kids up to 15).
Of course, there’s a down-side and here it’s the duration of the visit: 30 minutes only. You can roam for 15 minutes inside the house and then 15 minutes on the outside. That’s is.
You can buy the tickets at Lawson, directly at the place or online!

  • Hoshigaoka Terrace

It’s a mall, but a pretty cool one. It’s all open, which may not be a very smart idea since Japan has very cold winters and very hot summers, but the mall is actually pretty cool. There are many brand stores, like MUJI, and a bowling alley. We didn’t do bowling because, well, we weren’t healthy enough to roll heavy balls…

The decorated rice dough being cut by a child during a cooking class in Nagoya, Japan. Click to know more!

This is the decorated rice dough the kids learned how to make in the cooking class. Yum!

  • Japanese food Cooking Class with Bonza Cooking Class

We learned how to make some delicious food with Ayano-san from Bonza Cooking Class.
I don’t believe there’s a better way to learn more about the culture of a place than by learning about its food, so this was for the kids’ education (and the parents’) BUT it was also for fun. Cooking classes are almost always fun!
There are many different classes and Ayano-san is a great teacher!

Other things to do in Nagoya (or our Nagoya bucket list)

Maybe we’ll have the chance to do it some other time… I hope we will! The list below is just some of the Nagoya attractions we MISSED!!! Bummed!

  • Visit Nagoya Castle. We visited it a decade ago, but honestly, we don’t remember much. It’d be time to see it again.
  • Visit Midland Square’s observation deck
  • See Nagoya City’s Science Museum
  • Take a photo of Nagoya TV Tower
  • Learn a bit at the Toyota Factory Museum
  • Spend a day in Shirakawago, the most beautiful village of Japan (Book your trip to Shirakawago here and don’t miss it!)
Nagoya Castle at sunset with the tree leaves framing it. It's a beautiful place and the gardens surrounding the castles are the best part for families.

Well, we visited the castle in 2010! A lot must have changed since then, but it’s still be like this on the outside.

 

 

Family-friendly Restaurants in Nagoya

The place we rented was quite basic in cooking utensils so we had to be creative and eat out or buy food. We made the rice and the miso soup at home, got some pickles and salad at the supermarket, but then the main dish we usually bought out. Except when we were OK and managed to go out to eat.

  • Ma Maison no Tonkatsu

Delicious tonkatsu (breadcrumbed pork) served with pickles, pork stock soup, cabbage salad, and rice. It’s in Hoshigaoka Terrace, top floor, and it’s worth the waiting line.
If you’re not vegetarian, this is a must. We loved it.
And as a bonus, their tea is great.

The mom and the 3 older kids in photo spot where we put our faces in the holes to look like we were the animals at Hoshigaoka Zoo in Nagoya, Japan.

There’s a pretty big zoo in Nagoya too. It’s the Hoshigaoka Doubutsu-en. We’ve stopped visiting zoos since them, but if you enjoy it… They were so tiny…

  • Nagoya Gyoza Seisakusho

This was our main food most of the days. It’s a very small shop with a very tiny restaurant, but we usually bought the dumplings to eat at home. It was fairly cheap and it got even cheaper if you bought them to fry at home. We love dumplings and we tried every one of their varieties. The shiso (a green minty Japanese leaf) is delicious and vegan. They make them so quickly – in 5 minutes we had our food ready, and it was very close to the apartment we rented.

  • Jyu jyu Karubi

Japanese barbecue, anyone? Again, not for vegetarians, but it’s just so much fun to barbecue our own meat at our own table!
You choose your course, then order the meat on the tablet, and eat. The tablet also has some kids’ cartoons, in Japanese.
We love yakiniku more due to the fun of it than for the meat.

A path beside a lake with wintery plants and a family walking on it. The path to the house from My Neighbor Totoro is just as lovely!

This is the path that leads to Satsuki and Mei’s House in Moricoro park. That building you see there, that’s the tea house.

  • Gusto

It’s a family restaurant and we had a take away there once. It’s fairly ok to dine in too, super family-friendly. The take away was OK, nothing super good, but decent. It’s a good and warm place to dine in on a cold (or hot) evening to enjoy a meal with the family.

There are also many international chains in Nagoya, like Hard Rock Café, Outback Steakhouse, and Fridays. We don’t visit them usually, but they’re there if you want a taste of home!

Family-friendly place to stay in Nagoya

We rented this apartment through Airbnb. The listing is no longer available! If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to get a discount on your first booking – we receive a discount too!
It’s such a big apartment, it does have a lot of potentials. The owners are amazing, super friendly, incredible people.

2 kids running on the observation deck at Nagoya Airport, Japan. It used to be free of charge and there's a great view of the aircrafts leaving and arriving in Japan.

From the upper deck of Nagoya Airport, you can watch the planes departing and arriving. For those with kids that love airplanes, it’s a fun place to be.

The closest train station is 5 minutes walk away, and it’s close to a lot of places to eat and shop.
The apartment itself was very cold, though. The air conditioner didn’t manage to warm up the whole house, and the lack of ventilation left the walls all damp every day. The toilet and shower rooms were also very very very cold. We did have some of the coldest weeks of the last years while we were there, and the sickness didn’t help on the chilly feel.

I think it’s a great place, but they need to work on the warmth and the ventilation of the house, otherwise, avoid winter and choose one of the other seasons, when the house should be great.

If you’d rather a hotel or hostel in the area, click here to find something for you! (affiliate link)

To finish it, is Nagoya worth visiting?

Nagoya (Aichi, Japan) is worth visiting.

We need to go back there to see more of the city but it’s very much like any other Japanese city. It’s a big city, but not as crowded as Osaka or Tokyo, so it may be an alternative – and there’s an airport there too.
The house from the movie My Neighbor Totoro is worth a visit, definitely!

  • City / Country
  • Minimun Stay
  • $ ~ $$$
  • Child-friendlyness
  • Best local transport option
  • Safety
  • Do we recommend it?
  • Nagoya / Japan
  • A couple of days!
  • $$
  • OK for kids
  • Trains!
  • Super safe
  • Yes, for the Totoro fans out there!

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A bridge in Nagoya, Japan. There are many bridges in Japan and they' give great views over the bays and the seas.

The many bridges in the area are a sight to behold. I loved crossing them – even though I’m not very fond of bridges.

 

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