Nagoya is normally not a destination that is on your must-see list when you are only coming to Japan for a short time. Unless of course you are a big fan of Toyota, and don’t want to miss the opportunity to get a free tour of the Toyota factory just outside of Nagoya.
If you do however find yourself in or near Nagoya with a day to spare, you should not miss out on a both exciting and relaxing day at Nagashima Spaland!
First of all, Nagashima Spaland has one of the largest amusement parks of Japan. The park is open year-round, with the peak season in summer and slower season in winter. There are over 45 rides, many of which are exhilarating and super-fast. It is home to the almost 2.5 kilometer long Steel Dragon which has 4 mentions in past Guinness Books of World Records (one for speed!). Also worth an honorable mention is the White Cyclone, which is one of the longest wooden coasters in the world. The park surface is not that large, so it will not take you too long to walk from one attraction to the next, so you can do a lot of different rides in one day if you don’t go in the peak season.
During the summer months (between late June and late September) the water park, featuring big slides and a wave pool, is also open. Be prepared to stand in (long) lines for the slides though, as the park is not very big but tends to be very crowded.
For the small kids between 2-8 years old there is a separate (smaller) Anpanman park near the entrance of the regular park. This is a theme park that revolves around popular children’s anime Anpanman and is fun for any child, even if they are not familiar with the cartoon.
For those who love to shop, this place is a paradise. Jazz Dream Nagashima has a variety of stores ranging from American and European chains like the Gap and H&M to Gucci and a Tefal store. The mall has been built recently, so everything is still very new and clean. Even though it can get crowded, it is still a pleasant place to shop, not in the least because of the low(er) prices!
As the name already suggests, Nagashima Spaland has a very large onsen area besides the shops and amusement park. This is one of the largest onsens I have been to in Japan, and it is a very clean and relaxing area. There is an indoor and outdoor area, and a large shower area. You are supplied with towels, and there is enough shampoo and conditioner to feel completely clean after you come out. In the dining area you can have a Japanese style dinner (on tatami mats if you want) to close the day in style.
Of course there are very beautiful flower shows in this park which change every season, but the most beautiful time to come here is when the winter illumination show is happening (late October through March). This was by far one of the most romantic and impressive displays I have seen in Japan. Especially the (quite literal) highlights of the exhibition, the large screen displaying light animation with the sea of small lights in front, and the illuminated tunnel were grand. Don’t miss this experience when you are in the area around wintertime!
As you can see, there is enough to keep you happy and entertained for a day and night (or even two if you have the time, click here to find a hotel in the area) in the Chubu area of Japan!
Click here for more information about Nagashima Spaland and guides in English.