Noritake Pottery & Porcelain
Nagoya's second most famous production after cars is ceramics. The city manufactures 90% of Japan's pottery and porcelain for export. You can discover the modus operandi of this fascinating trade at the Noritake Garden (ノリタケの森). Noritake is the name of a suburb of Nagoya, but also of Noritake Co., Limited, Japan's biggest and most famous manufacturer of tableware and chinaware. Although Japan has an age-old tradition of making pottery (the world's oldest known pottery is from Japan and dates back to 10,000 BCE) the foundation of Noritake in 1904 marks a turning point in Japanese history. It epitomizes Japan's strive to become a westernized, industrialized nation during the unrestrained decades of change of the Meiji period.
The Noritake Garden occupies the site of the company's first factory. It is divided in three parts: a cultural, a historical and a commercial zone. Noritake 's reputation resides partly in the fact that a lot of the work is still done by hand. You can see the artisans at work, and even try your hand at making your own ceramics at the Craft Center. The various display rooms will take you through rare and exceptional vases and dishes from the early 20th century to the latest confections, from modern tableware to ceramic products used in high-tech products, like ceramic microchip card in computers. The factory is 15 minutes walk north of the JR Nagoya station. Admission to the Craft Center is ￥500.
Toyota has three museums in the Nagoya region. The most central of them is the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (a.k.a. Toyota Techno Museum), 3 minutes walk from Sako Station on the Nagoya Line, or 15 minutes walk north of JR Nagoya staion (next to the Noritake Garden). This museum has a wide range of interests, from the history of Toyota and its beginnings as a textile machinery manufacturer (Toyota invented the automatic loom), to the technical aspects and mechanisms of various machines. It likes to brand itself as the "experience of making things". You will see a replica of Toyota's very first car (1936), watch four films explaining how cars are designed and manufactured, and visualize all kind of demonstrations, especially looms and robotics.
A visit to Nagoya would hardly be complete without a stop at the Toyota Headquarters. The company exposes its latest models and protoypes, as well as its robots (for it is also one of Toyota's activities) at the Toyota Kaikan Museum. Tours of the manufacturing plants are also available for free. Reservations are essential and can be done through the Toyota Kaikan's website in link. The museum, factory and HQ are in Totota City, a few minutes walk from Mikawa Toyota station. Take the Toyokawa Line from Nagoya station (with a change at Chiryu).
Contrarily to what its name may suggest, the Toyota Automobile Museum is not limited to cars produced by Toyota. It is really an Automobile History Museum sponsored by Toyota. Starting with the self-propelled cart developed by Leonardo da Vinci, the exhibits progress through the ages with pioneer sports cars and luxury cars from the early 1900's and ends with the 1950's and early 60's. It is bound to satisfy old cars lovers. The museum is not very conveniently located, in the eastern suburb of Nagatuke. To get there take the metro/subway Higashiyama line from Nagoya station to Fujigaoka station (25 min), then the Limimo line until Geidai-dōri station (10 min). It is 5 minutes walk from there.
Map of attractions in Nagoya