JAPAN TRAVEL: Get to Know Kuwana City — A Quaint Leisure Town in Central Japan
Immediately to the southwest of Aichi, across Kiso River, is Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture, a far cry from the bustling crowds of major cities. Only 30 minutes away by train (Kintetsu-Nagoya Line) from Nagoya City, Kuwana is a worthwhile side-trip for nature and gourmet lovers, as well as avid shoppers.
Kuwana has been developing itself as a leisure town, where you can find some of the best shopping centers in the region, namely Jazz Dream Nagashima, and MyCal Kuwana. Despite that, you can still enjoy a calm and laid-back atmosphere in the city. The shopping and amusement centers don’t get as crowded as in bigger cities, and you can always be in comforting proximity of the river and the bay.
Being a city close to the Kiso River and the ocean, Kuwana is also famous for seafood like hamaguri (hard clam), which you can enjoy in various ways such as grilled, steamed, or stewed.
Nabana No Sato
Nabana No Sato is a wonderland home to a stunning winter illumination.
Boasting one of the most stunning winter illuminations in Japan, Nabana No Sato is a vast winter wonderland, illuminated as it is with over 8 million LED lights during the season (until May 6, 2019, for this year). Inside this 230,000-square-meter theme park are three main attractions ideal for both families and couples to enjoy.
The trees, still tainted with autumn colors, at Nabana No Sato share the same magical atmosphere in winter.
Upon entering the park, the ethereal atmosphere brought about by fairy lights clothing several trees will start to transform your overall mood.
The tunnel lights transform into a periwinkle glow, making it all the more mystical.
Two tunnels lit up by lights of dancing colors lead to more magical places, such as the famous ground for the lights and sound show promoting famous landmarks in Japan and around the world. This spectacle has since promoted the Niagara Falls in the US, the Swiss Alps in Switzerland, Northern Europe’s Aurora Borealis, and the very own wonders of Japan throughout the years.
In winter this year, the lights and sound show of Nabana No Sato features Japan’s very own Mount Fuji.
Nabana No Sato also features an indoor Begonia Garden, a 9,000-square-meter warm paradise full of colorful flowers. This paradise is filled with begonia flowers bursting with vibrant colors from yellow, red and white to pink in various shades.
The Begonia Garden exudes warmth from the various begonia flowers in different colors.
Nabana No Sato Information
Address: 270 Komae, Nagashima, Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture
Operating Hours: 9 am to 9 pm *Operating hours may vary by season.
Admission During the Winter Illumination (Oct. 20, 2018 to May 6, 2019): ¥2,300 with ¥1,000 coupon consumable in any restaurant within the park
Regular Admission Fee: ¥1,600 | Separate Admission to Begonia Garden: ¥1,000 (adult)
Kawasemi restaurant in Nabana No Sato features a clean and comfortable atmosphere for its visitors.
There are several restaurants inside Nabana No Sato. There’s a Japanese noodle restaurant, tonkatsu restaurant, Italian, Chinese, and a beer garden. If you want to experience Japanese tradition, Kawasemi is a great place to get a taste of it. This restaurant is the closest to Begonia Garden in Nabana No Sato.
Kawasemi’s Hamaguri Gozen showcases the hard clam in different recipes: deep-fried clam, clam with mustard, and clam in a hot pot.
Kawasemi specializes in traditional Japanese set meals. A must-try is their Hamaguri Gozen, a special set menu that highlights the local specialty, hamaguri.
Hamaguri hot pot is cooked right on your table.
Hamaguri or boiled clam, part of the Hamaguri Gozen (¥2,000)
The hamaguri hot pot is served along with a portable ceramic burner, so you can enjoy watching as the fresh clam is being cooked. The soup is clear and light, which is perfect for a winter supper.
Kawasemi Restaurant Information
Operating Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Jazz Dream Nagashima
Jazz Dream is one of the top shopping destinations in Kuwana City.
Mitsui Outlet Park Jazz Dream Nagashima, or simply Jazz Dream, is located next to Nagashima Spa Land, which is famed for the Steel Dragon 2000, the world’s longest roller coaster. You can see the impressive roller coaster before entering Jazz Dream.
Featuring spacious balconies and a lot of open spaces, Jazz Dream is a charming place to explore.
One of the biggest outlet malls in Japan, Jazz Dream houses over 200 shops and 31 dining options. You can find international brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Prada, Versace, and a lot more.
Jazz Dream, although a quite a huge place to explore, makes for a nice stroll as you look around for shops. The mall is charming, with spacious courtyards and open spaces, and al-fresco dining spots.
Jazz Dream Nagashima Information
Address: 368 Urayasu, Nagashima-cho, Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture
Operating Hours: Shops – 10 am to 8 pm; Food court – 11 am to 9 pm (Mon to Fri), 10:30 am to 9 pm (Sat to Sun, Holidays); Restaurants – hours vary
Getting to Kuwana City
From Nagoya Station, take the JR Kansai or the Kintetsu Nagoya train to Kuwana Station or Nagashima Station (if you are heading for Nabana No Sato). The trip only takes between 20 and 30 minutes.
If going to Nabana No Sato, take the bus from Ekimae Bus Stop next to Nagashima Station and get off at Nagashima Hot Spring Bus Stop. If you’re going to Jazz Dream, you can also take a bus from this stop.
Written by Rei Leaño & Chin Sanigan