Japan's fourth-largest city, Nagoya, located 70 mi/115 km east of Kyoto, was almost completely destroyed during the war, but today it's a bustling place.

Nagoya also is a good base for exploring nearby destinations—including original feudal castles.

To the south is the Ise-Shima National Park and Mikimoto Island, where you can watch pearl diving and shop for pearls. Visit the sacred Isejingu Shrine and equally revered forest it watches over. Be respectful of worshippers and the park itself, as much within it is considered sacred.

To the north is the Kiso River area, where the adventurous can ride the rapids in flat-bottomed boats guided by oarsmen.

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