It’s been almost 2 months since my last article regarding my travels through Indonesia, but I hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start! Since my last update, I briefly visited my home country for Christmas and have been working to save up for my trip to Europe in April. However, over the last week I decided to give myself a break and go backpacking through Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe! The purpose of this trip was to try new cafes, visit some shrines that were still on my bucket list, and see my Kansai friends before my month-long trip to Italy and other surrounding countries. Though I have traveled to these cities many times, it’s always satisfying to walk down old streets and see what new things lie in wait. In this article, I am happy to share several new recommendations that I found during my travels.
Visiting the Rabbit Shrine: Miwa Shrine
Last year everyone was making the pilgrimage to Nara’s Tiger Temple, but this year Nagoya’s Rabbit Shrine (called Miwa Shrine) is receiving a large number of visitors! Located in the heart of the Osu Shopping district, this shrine has a large rabbit statue you can rub for good luck and enshrines a god that is said to represent love and marriage. If you walk around to the back of shrine’s main area, you will see an arrow that has pierced through a tree. This is where the Owari Clan used to practice archery. If you would like to learn more about the significance of this shrine, please see the Miwa Shrine article from Centrip Japan. Also be sure to check out the hanging rabbit ema because they have unique designs drawn by visitors to the shrine. I loved the Psyduck rabbit! You can purchase them at the building adjacent to the shrine.
Address: 3 Chome-9-32 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0011
Dining at Osu’s Penguin Café (PG Café)
With penguin décor in every inch of the room, this themed café was truly a lot to take in! We personality enjoyed spotting all of the penguins from anime and games on the shelves while we waited for our food, not to mention the (nearly) life-sized penguin plushies lounging around. They make the perfect companions if you dine alone. There is also a mini claw machine game you can play to win tiny keychains of fuzzy animals (I won two in one try). As for the food, there are a lot of drink and dessert options plus some very filling entrees. My friends and I decided to split a dessert set with three tiers of penguin pastries, and also ordered a plate of omurice and hot coffee in penguin cups. My personal favorites were the pancakes with the PG Café logo, the chocolate penguin tart, and the original cookies. They also make penguin latte art for those who are interested. Though I’ve been to tastier dessert cafes, I’d definitely say that the food here is above average. A lot of heart went into creating the penguin collection of PG Café.
Feel free to just walk into this café because no reservations are required, but there may be a wait time since the space is pretty cozy.
Address: 3 Chome-23-27 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0011
Nanten Sushi is a well-received sushi and kaisendon (seafood rice bowl) restaurant south of Nagoya Station. When first saw their Peanuts-themed kaisendon on Instagram, I knew I had to make the journey out here and try it for myself! This is perhaps the most elaborate and detailed seafood bowl that I have ever eaten in my life. I loved the adorable faces of the onigiri and flower display surrounding the bowl. Not to mention that the taste of the seafood was out of this world! I watched the sushi chef sear eel right in front of me so I know that it was made fresh. The staff was very kind to me as well. Please note that a reservation is required for these character seafood bowls, but you can easily make them over phone. I would recommend this place to all seafood lovers because it is one of the best places I have been to in Nagoya!
Address: 〒457-0027 Aichi, Nagoya, Minami Ward, Yayoicho, 165 南天寿し
Another place I highly recommend trying is a tiny pink bakery called Sweet Yasuko that sells cute cookies and soft serve ice cream. When I saw their puppy-themed strawberry ice cream in my recommended feed and knew I had to try it! They also sell adorably decorated cookies of hearts, mermaids, and cute accessories for low prices. Additionally courses (in Japanese) are offered for those who are looking to improve their decoration skills. I love supporting small businesses—especially when they’re pink—so that’s why I enjoyed my time here.
Address: 3 Chome-2-23 Izumi, Higashi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 461-0001
Used Line New Beer
Another place that I was dying to try was a sandwich and craft beer restaurant called Used Like New Beer in Kamejima. I saw the egg sandwich and loved the aesthetic of it, so my friend and I ordered three of them plus a vegetable sandwich with tuna in it. The sandwiches were made with fresh ingredients and did not disappoint. They also make sandwiches with keema curry, mentaiko, and mackerel for those who like toppings that are unique to Japan, but they make traditional sandwiches like BLTs here too. Some of the craft beers they had for sale here I had never seen before! Though I am usually not a beer person, I tried the Patisserie Nyankoro beer that had chunks of strawberry in it and was the best beer that I had ever tasted. I would highly recommend stopping here if you are a beer fan, because you’ll definitely find some pretty unique flavors here.
Address: 2 Chome-17-5 Kikui, Nishi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 451-0044
One bar that I’ve recommend in the past and can’t recommend enough is Nagoya’s most famous international gaming bar, Critical Hit. I have made so many friends here over the years that I will keep for life. I loved the Mario pipes with the Slime plushies coming out of them, plus the wide arrange of classic and modern games that you can play here. This time I played Kirby’s Dream Course with one of my friends which is probably the most entertaining golf spinoff that I have ever played. I enjoyed how they placed some of the bosses on the courses to try and derail your shot. We also went to a Vivienne Westwood-themed bar called Drowning Fish. The bartenders here were also anime and gaming enthusiasts so we had a great time chatting. All of the tiny bars that I have visited in Nagoya are amazing, and Aichi Prefecture really deserves more recognition for its nightlife!
Usually when I go to Nagoya I always stay with friends, but since I came on a weekday I decided to stay in a hotel in central Sakae called Hotel Erenoa. What I liked about this hotel is that it was only 2900 yen per night and had a public bath. The only disappointing thing was that the bath was only useable for three hours per day at night. I really wish that I could have used it in the morning to, but otherwise I had a pleasant stay here. This is one of the cheapest hotels in central Nagoya and I would recommend staying here if you are on a budget.
Thank you for reading the first article in my latest series. In my next article, I will be writing about my trip to Kyoto and various recommendations that I have there.