Nagoya Castle is one of the most popular tourist spots in Nagoya. It is also one of the 100 great castles of Japan, and is known for having been built by Ieyasu Tokugawa, the shogun who conquered Japan. Aside from the obvious main castle building, here are 5 other highlights of Nagoya Castle.
1. The Golden Shachihoko
Shachi is a creature that has a tiger’s head, the body of a carp, a thorny back, and it is often shown with its tail raised to the sky. They were placed on either side of the roof of the castle as protection against fire as it was believed they would splash water onto it. However, the shachihoko of Nagoya Castle was burned along with the main castle building in the air raids of 1945. The shachihoko of today were restored after the World War II. The northern one is male and the southern one is female. There are slight differences between the two. For example, the male shachihoko is taller by 4cm, and the female shachihoko has 14 more scales than the male. Although it is hard to see from afar, it is interesting to compare the two. There is a life-size replica on the 5th floor of the main castle building, which might be better for taking pictures.
2. Northwest Tower
A yagura is like a turret. They were made to serve as lookout, guard, and food/weapon storage posts, and are usually placed at the four corners of the castle. Northwest Tower is one of the three yagura of Nagoya Castle, built on the northwest corner of the Ofukemaru area, northwest of the main castle building. It is a 3 level turret with 3 roofing layers. It is also called Kiyosu Yagura, as this turret served as a small castle tower of Kiyosu Castle and was transferred. The interior of Northwest Tower is, however, not available for viewing as of August 2016.
3. Kiyomasa's Stone
This is a giant stone in the wall of the castle that is said to have been lifted by Kiyomasa Kato, a legendary warrior. However, this could be a myth, as the stone wall was constructed by Nagamasa Kuroda. Either way, the knowledge and power of people from these earlier times, to have been able to move a stone of this size without machinery, is incredible. Additionally, there are stones scattered around the castle with the engraved names of daimyo that might be fun to seek out.
4. Ninomaru Garden, Ninomaru East Garden
Ninomaru Garden is a garden with a pond constructed in the karesansui style, north of Ninomaru Goten, a palace that belonged to the Owari daimyo (Owari being the ancient name for Nagoya; a daimyo was feudal lord). The karesansui style is a traditional rock garden. However, in the early Meiji era (late 1800s) the artificial hills of the garden were shaved down and the pond was buried due to military expansion. The garden was renovated in 1975, and the east side has been reopened as Ninomaru East Garden. There are flower gardens with peonies and many other kinds of flowers. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a stroll in a garden with a traditional Japanese atmosphere.
5. Honmaru Palace
Nagoya Castle’s Honmaru Palace was originally built in 1615, as a residence of the of Owari daimyo. 20 years later, a dwelling palace was built to house the Tokugawa army as they traveled to Kyoto, the then-capital. However, this dwelling palace was burned in the air raids of 1945 along with the main castle building. The Nagoya Castle main castle building was rebuilt in 1959, and the reconstruction of the Honmaru Palace took place in 2009. Although some parts of the palace have been open to the public since 2013, the reconstruction is scheduled to continue until 2018. The reconstruction process is also open to public observation. The unique and detailed craftsmanship and the restoration of this important cultural property including decorations like wall paintings can be seen.
The famous Nagoya Castle has various enjoyable attributes. Please allow yourself a few hours to fully enjoy and experience this castle.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.