Most, but not all Americans like their space or “elbow room” and sort of feel sorry for those who live in countries with much higher population densities. On long weekends or holidays, many city dwellers like to get out of the cities and find a quiet place, going back to where they grew up, going to the mountains, to the beach to the lake, or other places. 

But, people in Japan seem to like the cities. Through the years, I’ve observed Japanese students at OSU, and a large percentage of them on those long weekends or holidays choose to go to our large cities, and in Japan many will do the same thing. 

They just like cities and don’t seem to mind the throngs of people. That may be why approximately 25 percent of the total population of Japan live in the 10 largest cities in the country. 

But, the cities in Japan are very often different than our cities. The area around train or bus stations in American cities is often not the most attractive part of a city, whereas in Japan, because a significant part of the population travels by train and use city buses for tours to places of interest in a city, train and bus stations are usually close to each other and the area usually has nice hotels, restaurants and shops for visitors. 

Through the years my wife Kayo and I have visited all of Japan’s 10 largest cities and have enjoyed our time in each. 

I’ve written about Kyoto several times and about Tokyo, so, interspersed with other topics for the next couple months will be articles about the other largest cities in Japan, starting with the city of Nagoya this week. Nagoya, which is Japan’s fourth largest city with a population of 2.33 million is located about halfway between Tokyo and Osaka. 

It’s typically not high on the list of foreign visitors of places to visit while in Japan, but for those who do go, there’s plenty to see and enjoy. It’s one of Japan’s major port cities and is where most, if not all, the Toyota vehicles manufactured in Aichi Prefecture of which Nagoya is the capital, are shipped to countries around the world. So, not surprising, the Toyota Exhibition Hall and the Toyota Commemorative Museum are high on the list of places to visit. Probably not as well-known at Toyota, Noritake China is made in Nagoya and their factory, exhibition hall, and garden are popular with tourists. We have a nice set of chinaware from that factory purchased more than 60 years ago. 

There’s the Nagoya Museum of Science, Nagoya Tower, the first TV tower constructed in Japan, and other places related to science and technology, but Nagoya also has a very long history related to samurai and ninja culture. Nagoya Castle was originally constructed in the early 1600s and stood watch over the city for several centuries until it was destroyed during WW II. A very impressive replica was built in the late 1950s and is a very popular tourist site. 

As in every city in Japan, there are ancient temples and shrines always worth a visit. And there are many other places of interest, but there’s one in particular place I want to mention, the arena where the annual Nagoya Sumo Tournament in July. Although I’ve watched many sumo tournaments on TV, I’ve only attended one in person, the one in Nagoya, which Kayo’s father and I attended and which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Larry Jones is a member of the Stillwater Sister Cities Council.

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