Explore Central Honshu
Some 5km south of central Nagoya, amid extensive wooded grounds, lies the ancient shrine of Atsuta-jingū (熱田神宮), home of the kusanagi-no-tsurugi, or “grass-cutting sword”. This, along with the sacred jewels in Tokyo’s Imperial Palace and the sacred mirror at Ise-jingū, forms part of the imperial regalia and remains hidden deep within the shrine, which had to be rebuilt after World War II.
Within the shrine grounds there’s a small museum where you can see many other swords offered to the Shinto gods at Atsuta-jingū, including a ferocious 2m-long blade in the entrance hall. Within the grounds, look out for the giant camphor tree, said to have been planted by the Buddhist saint Kōbō Daishi 1300 years ago. It takes around twenty minutes by subway from Nagoya Station to reach Jingū-Nishi Station on the Meijō line, the closest stop to Atsuta-jingū.
Stroll west from the subway station towards the Hori-kawa, on the other side of which is the charming Shirotori Garden (白鳥庭園). This classical stroll-garden, arranged around ponds and streams, has an elegant traditional teahouse that is said to resemble a swan landing on the water.