Located in the centre of the fertile Nōbi Plain plain at the head of Ise Bay, around two-thirds of the way between Tokyo and the Kyoto/Osaka conurbation, Nagoya is the industrial hub of Japan's third largest metropolitan region, the Chūkyō Metropolitan Area (population over 8.75 million). 

Just under two and a half million people live in the city, which dates back to 1610 and Tokugawa Ieyasu’s decision to move the capital of Owari Province from Kiyosu, around seven kilometres away, to a more strategic location. 

Nagoya Castle was built to serve as the seat of the Tokugawa clan's Owari branch, and the town of 60,000 people, complete with shrines and temples was relocated to the new site. 

Around the same time, the nearby Atsuta Shrine was designated as a way station on the Tōkaidō road linking Kyoto and Edo (modern Tokyo), and Nagoya developed as a combination castle and shrine/transit town. 

The second-most venerable shrine in Japan, Atsuta dates almost two millennia and houses the sacred Kusanagi-no-mitsurugi sword, one of the three Imperial regalias of Japan. 

Not something that you’d put on public display, but there are over four thousand other artefacts on the grounds and the shrine hosts around seventy festivals every year.

Geographic position coupled with political clout saw the city develop as the hub of the surrounding region. At first it was cotton, ceramics and timber that drove the growth, but when Japan started to transform during the Meiji Era, Nagoya became an industrial centre. 

© Ian Hughes 2017