Friday, January 24, 2014

Nagoya

Nagoya. The 4th largest city in Japan. Though smaller in terms of size and population to Tokyo and Osaka, Nagoya is the industrial centre of the country. With a considerable expat population, presence of important corporate houses and modern architecture and facilities, Nagoya does have a cosmopolitan environment. 
Due to its central location, Nagoya developed as an economic and political centre over the centuries. Historically too, Nagoya has been a place of importance. Nagoya is the birthplace of three notable feudal lords- Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. The entire owes its rich cultural and economic history to the Tokugawa family. The old Tokaido Highway which connected the old capital of Kyoto and the new capital Edo (present day Tokyo) passed through the area and due to this the neighbouring areas developed into current day Nagoya. During Edo period, The Tokugawa family shifted the capital of Owari province from Kiyosu to the area where Nagoya castle is located.Nagoya was designated a city as part of the Meiji Restoration in 1889.

The city has a rich history of both art and culture since the 15th century when Tokugawa Ieyasu promoted the growth of cultural arts, Noh and Kabuki theatres, Japanese dance, tea ceremonies, flower arrangement. To cater to the needs of these arts, the related industries namely ceramic, textile dying and woodworking evolved. Nagoya's old town, Arimatsu is famed for its tie-dying process 'Shibori' which is used for making the kimono fabric.This also led to the development of pottery towns in the nearby towns of Tokoname, Seto and Tajimi.In the Edo period, local industries like ceramics, tie dying and Japanese paper industry started flourishing with traditions being passed from generation to generation in families. Some of the industries are still alive and thriving, the best example perhaps is that of Noritake, a renowned name in fine ceramics.

During the shogunate, Okazaki area was one of the major producers of gun powder.  During the World War II, Nagoya was one of the major targets of air raids since the region produced Machine tools, Railway equipment, Motor vehicles, metal alloys, army vehicles and processed food. Many of Nagoya's historical buildings and industrial facilities were destroyed during these air raids.In the 19th and 20th century manufacturing industries modelled on traditional manufacturing started developing and flourishing. Today some of these defunct factories have been converted into museums to showcase the history of modern Japanese industry. For instance the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology showcases the history of Toyota group which started as a textile mill.

Nagoya's major industry is the automobile and aerospace industry. Nagoya is considered to be the Japanese equivalent to U.S ' Detroit.Automobile giant Toyota is headquartered in the nearby Toyota city while Mitsubishi Motors' R & D division operates from nearby Okazaki city. Aerospace related firms Boeing, Pratt&Whitney, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Lockheed Martin,  Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries also operate from Nagoya. Many automotive and aerospace suppliers are also located in the region. The World Expo 2005 was held in Nagakute-Seto area near Nagoya from March to September 2005.

Located in Central Japan, Nagoya acts as a centre point between the two main cities - Tokyo and Osaka. The Tokaido corridor which connects Greater Tokyo to Osaka via Nagoya and Kyoto is the most important and most travelled transportation corridor in Japan. The Tomei, Mei-shin and Shin Mei Shin expressways serve vehicular traffic on this route.The JR Tokaido Main Line and Tokaido Shinkansen Lines connect these major cities by road and railways respectively. Nagoya station which is reported to be the world's largest station by floor value is the hub of the rail traffic in the region.Apart from the JR Tokaido Main line and Tokaido Shinkansen Lines, the city is also serviced by the Nagoya Railroad, Chuo Main Line, Kintetsu Line and Nagoya Subway Network. JR Central's headquarters are also located in Nagoya.

Nagoya port is also a major port mainly serving the regions trade sector. The port which mainly serves the automobiles industry, especially Toyota ranks as the largest port by international trade value in Japan.

Nagoya airport, officially known as Chubu Centrair International Airport is situated in nearby Tokoname city on a man made island. The old Nagoya airport, known as Nagoya airfield which is located in nearby Komaki, is now only used for general aviation and serves as an airbase facility.

Though not comparable to the expat community in Tokyo Metropolitan Area, Nagoya also has a considerable expat population.  Nagoya International School located in the city's Moriyama ward, International Christian Academy of Nagoya located in Nagakute and Aichi International School located in the Meito Ward cater to the educational needs of the expat population .

Nagoya also has many universities with a lot of international students studying in them.

Nagoya has many tourist attractions which I will cover separately. Nagoya is also famous for its unique cuisine locally known as "Nagoya Meshi" which is popular all over Japan. I shall cover that too separately.

Another interesting fact about Nagoya is that it is the birthplace of "Pachinko" as pinball is locally known. 

From history to industry and food to entertainment, Nagoya has it all !

(After living in north east Japan for over 3 years we moved to Nagoya in summer 2013.)

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