Sakae (栄) is Nagoya’s central shopping and entertainment playground. Hisaya ōdōri-kōen, a swathe of parkland splitting the area, is punctuated more or less in the centre by the 180m Nagoya TV Tower. This handsome silver-painted structure, Japan’s first TV signal transmission tower, built in 1954, has been designated a National Tangible Cultural Property. It’s best visited for its good range of places to eat and drink. The UFO-shaped complex immediately east of here is the bus station Oasis 21; its oval-shaped roof, covered with a shallow pool of water, provides an attractive elevated perch from which to survey the surroundings.
Immediately behind Oasis 21 is the Aichi Arts Centre, a major concert and performance hall. Head to the top floor to visit the excellent Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (愛知県美術館); its permanent collection provides a brisk romp through superstars of the post nineteenth-century art scene, including pieces by Picasso, Klimt, Matisse and Modigliani, as well as Japanese painters such as Kishida Ryusei and Takahashi Yuichi. The large galleries here also host good temporary exhibitions, and the museum is the focus of the Aichi Triennale international arts festival, first held in 2010.
A short walk south of the art museum is the Nadya Park Building; on the fourth floor you’ll find the engrossing Design Museum, which charts the commercial design of modern products, such as telephones and radios, and has hi-tech displays and computer simulations. Push the buttons on the display towers to shuffle through the various exhibits, including the museum’s unique collection of American Art Deco items.