Most foreign tourists have never heard of Nishio, a small town to the south of Nagoya. But it is a surprisingly amazing day trip option. Especially if you love Matcha sweets. And I definitely do.
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In this post, I will introduce Nishio City to you. What to do there, how to get to Nishio from Nagoya, and most importantly which amazingly delicious sweets and treats to try there.
About Nishio Matcha
Nishio a city in Aichi Prefecture just around 30 kilometers away from Nagoya is especially famous for its Matcha green tea powder. Because of an especially favorable climate, the city produces around 20% of the domestically grown green tea used for Matcha production. For this reason, it is also known as Little Kyoto. Because Kyoto is the other big producer of Matcha in Japan.
The history of Matcha in Nishio dates back to 1271 and begins with the founder of Jissoji Temple when he started planting tea seeds on the temple grounds. At that time tea wasn’t a commodity and only priests drank it.
It wasn’t until around 1872 with the introduction of cultivation and tea-making techniques to Nishio that the production volume grew to a more commercial level.
From the beginning of the 20th century, Nishio started focusing more exclusively on Tencha production, which is the raw material for Matcha powder. Nowadays 96% of the tea grown in Nishio is Tencha with its vivid green color. It is the only city in Japan that specialized in Matcha production.
What to Do in Nishio
There are many things to do in Nishio that revolve around Matcha green tea, but also some other activities of interest.
Follow the process from tea plant to drinkable Matcha during this 2-hour tour at the Aoiseicha Matcha factory.
Wear the traditional tea picking outfit and take some unforgettable pictures in the tea fields. Learn how Tencha is grown in Nishio.
After the fields have a look inside a Matcha factory where you have the opportunity to grind some Matcha powder and learn about the necessary steps to produce it.
Lastly, prepare and enjoy your own Matcha drink at the café together with some delicious traditional Japanese sweets.
This tour is still in development in English and will become available in April 2020. Check the Nishio Tourism Website for current details.
Tour Miso Park and Make your own Miso Soup
Matcha isn’t the only product made in Nishio. Red Miso paste is produced at Hatoya Miso Park. Here you can learn everything about Miso paste and even make your own Miso soup.
Compare different kinds of Miso, learn about the production process and the health benefits of Miso and tour a Miso warehouse where the Soybean paste ferments for 3 years in gigantic wooden barrels.
During the Miso soup-making experience mix different kinds of Miso with dried condiments and form small balls. Decorate them and you are good to go. Try your own creation on the spot. Just pour some hot water on the Miso ball and watch it dissolve. It will be the best Miso soup you have ever had.
This experience is still in development in English and will become available in April 2020. Check the Nishio Tourism Website for current details.
Uncover History at the Nishio Castle Grounds
Nishio used to be a castle town with its centerpiece Nishio Castle. Nowadays parts of the castle have been reconstructed, such as the entry gate and one of the watchtowers. Entry to the Nishio City History Park, as the former grounds of Nishio Castle are known nowadays is free.
Nishio is in the process of reconstructing another corner tower, but it is as yet unknown when the small castle keep will be reconstructed.
The entry to the Nishio Municipal Museum is also free of charge, a small two-room museum housing artifacts collected in Nishio, such as paintings, scrolls, and armor.
Just a short walk from Nishio City History Park is the Shokoso, a traditional Japanese garden with a tea house. It was constructed by a rich Nishio family at the beginning of the 20th century.
Have Tea at the Former Konoe Residence
Konoe Residence used to be located in Kyoto. But when the city decided to demolish it in 1995, Nishio asked for it to be transferred to its current location in the Nishio City History Park.
You can visit the teahouse free of charge but I recommend you spend 400 yen for a Matcha set served with a Japanese sweet. Have a seat anywhere inside the tea house, enjoy the garden views and the bitter Matcha drink together with the sweet taste of your Wagashi.
FORMER KONOE RESIDENCE
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. closed Mondays
Address: 231-1 Kinjocho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
Where to Eat in Nishio
Aside from Matcha, Nishio is also famous for Red Miso and Unagi eel. In the following, I will introduce to you the best places to have some Matcha sweets and snacks, where to try dishes made from Red Miso, and the best restaurant to try the local Unagi dish.
This is your best lunch option in Nishio if you want to eat something with Matcha. Shokakuen serves a wide variety of Matcha sweets but also delicious Matcha Soba noodles either hot or cold together with Tencha rice.
The volume of these dishes is surprisingly good and includes dessert. I really enjoyed my Matcha Zaru Soba although I have to admit it didn’t taste much like Matcha. The Tencha rice, rice mixed with dried Tencha bits, was very fragrant and tasted like surprisingly a lot of the tea leaves.
After lunch, don’t forget to check out the gift shop selling a wide variety of teas as well as Matcha sweets. The perfect souvenir from Nishio to bring back home.
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. closed Wednesdays
Address: Minamiarako-50-2 Minami Arako, Nishio Kamimachi, Aichi 445-0894
If you prefer to try something that isn’t Matcha for lunch check out Uotora where you can try the other specialty of Nishio, Unagi. Japanese eel is a delicacy, and a big proportion of the eel raised in Japan comes from Nishio city.
At Uotora you can try this freshly caught eel in the form of Chameshi-unagama. A type of pilaf cooked with Nishio Tencha, eel and vegetables.
Opening Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. closed Thursdays
Address: Yakushimae 1-10 Kamimachi, Nishio, Aichi 445-0894
This patisserie makes delicious looking cakes, and it was really difficult for me not to buy one of their cheesecakes or strawberry tarts.
They also have a very appealing looking Matcha pudding on the menu.
You can either buy your desserts to take home with you or eat them at the small café inside the shop together with some coffee or tea.
I opted for a Matcha soft serve ice cream. They come in 3 sizes (mini, normal, and large) and even though I ordered the mini size for 300 yen it didn’t really seem all that small to me. If you are planning on visiting more places to try delicious treats throughout the day, I recommend the mini size.
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. closed Tuesdays
Address: Siwaicho 3, Nishio, Aichi 445-0827
Matcha Lab is located in a charming old Japanese building. The inside is quite modern but Japanese and very comfortable.
With one area equipped with tables and chairs and one area with low round tables on Tatami mat flooring overlooking a garden.
They specialize in gelato, with three different Matcha flavors as well as other delicious flavors such as strawberry, caramel, and chocolate. From their gelato, they make delicious looking parfaits. You can choose between Matcha, Matcha & Caramel, and Matcha & Chocolate.
You can also order hot or iced tea drinks such as straight Matcha or Hojicha (roasted green tea), late (mixed with milk and sugar) and soy late (mixed with soy milk and sugar). I really enjoyed my Matcha late which comes in quite a big cup. Perfect to relax for a couple of minutes.
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. closed Mondays
Address: 122 Kinjocho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
This former Nishio post office has been transformed into a small sweets shop selling Matcha sweets called Obanyaki.
The Obanyaki at Katekin Do are cylinder-shaped sweets with a Matcha dough on the outside and different kinds of fillings on the inside. You will find fillings like Matcha (Matcha and white bean paste filling), red bean paste, chocolate, and custard.
I tried the custard filling, but have to admit it didn’t go as well with Matcha as I thought it would. I recommend the traditional red bean paste version to anyone who isn’t sure what to choose.
The shop also sells small Matcha crepes with custard, strawberries, and whip cream filling. In summer they also have shaved ice in different flavors.
You can either take out your sweets or enjoy them at the counter tables inside the small shop.
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. closed Monday to Thursday
Address: 4-10 Tsurugasakicho, Nishio, Aichi 445-0864
How to Get to Nishio from Nagoya
Since Nishio is only around 30 kilometers away from Nagoya it is a perfect day trip destination. The Meitetsu express train from Nagoya Station takes 50 minutes, costs 810 yen and leaves every 30 minutes.
Arriving in Nishio around 10 a.m. will give you enough time to explore the city and return to Nagoya at night.
How to Get Around Nishio
The center of Nishio is easily walkable from Nishio station.
To get to the Matcha part of town you have to walk for around 30 minutes (2.3 kilometers).
The bus system of Nishio is currently being revised and is expected to pass closer to the Shokakuen as well as Aoiseicha from April 2020.
I suggest you use Google Maps to find your way around and get a pamphlet of Nishio City in English at the Tourist Information Center right next to Nishio Station.
Information at the multiple sights and signs in Nishio are written in Japanese only, but they use a convenient translation app. Just scan the QR code at the signs and your smartphone will open a website with a short description in English.
Final Thoughts on Nishio
Nishio is really putting a lot of effort into attracting more foreign tourists. It is a surprisingly fascinating city, off the beaten path in Japan.
If you want to avoid the crowds, like Matcha, or want to take beautiful pictures of castles, gardens, and tea houses Nishio is the place to go.
For more day trips from Nagoya visit this page. My favorites so far are Inuyama, Gero, Takayama, and Shirakawago, but I am in the process of visiting every other city in easy day-trip distance from Nagoya, and new posts are coming all the time. Also in Aichi, and not far from Nishio is Tokoname, check it out if you like pottery.
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If you want to explore more of Nagoya read the Nagoya Travel Guide or my 30+ things to do in Nagoya. For all the foodies I recommend to check the Nagoya Food Guide, a comprehensive list of local dishes and the best restaurants to try them.
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In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.