Nagoya Castle, Aichi Prefecture

First of all if you prefer to watch than to read here is the link to the youtube video of this adventure.

Mafe needed all the rest she could get after an all night’s work so we didn’t start our adventure until noon. She and Nori-san picked me up from my hotel and we drove to one of the city’s most prominent landmark the Nagoya Castle.

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There seemed so be some festivities going so Nori-san dropped us off by a dead end with parking around the area. Mafe and I went down and we walked towards the entrance. I took a video while the cherry blossoms on top of us were slowly, blooming. She said the festival isn’t far behind.

There were also tourists and locals visiting the castle, some in their traditional, colorful kimonos. Others were unusual such as this komusou, or monk of emptiness.  Who played the flute with a bassinet in its head which symbolizes an absence of specific ego.

As I gazed on the huge walls I remembered from my previous reading that the Nagoya area was home to several fortifications that predated the current version of Nagoya castle. The castle was rebuilt several times since the late fourteenth century.


We went to the ticketing area which was attached to the castle walls, and there were a lot of people. I wasn’t surprised since it’s a tourist attraction. We went in the open gates and saw the events going on. The people in traditional clothing were walking and laughing, while others watched some of the shows on the stage.


We watched some of them then after that we did some picture taking. Then we moved on following the flock of tourist heading to the main castle. Now let us start the history:

Tokugawa Ieyasu

“Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had been victorious at the Battle of Sekigahara, decided to build Nagoya Castle. He also moved from Kiyosu to the new castle town. The grid pattern of the new town became the model for modern Nagoya. The names of its neighborhoods and bridges can still be seen in Nagoya Today.

In 1610, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the construction of Nagoya Castle. He ordered 20 daimyo lords from western Japan, such as Kato Kiyomasa and Fukushima Masanori, to build the stone walls. This is called tenka bushin (public works project). Kobori Enshu, Nakai Masakiyo and others built the main castle tower and corner towers.


As with many other castle restoration projects of the time, one of the main goals was to drain the coffers of the tozama daimyo.  Using bamboo screening to hide his techniques from prying eyes, the architect  Kato directed the efforts of 200,000 laborers and constructed the massive stone walls of Nagoya in about sixth months. Building materials were used both from the much smaller existing structure. The tenshu was completed in 1612, with the honmaru palace and other buildings added over the next few years.”


As we walked we passed by several stone structures and we found that those are the castle tower foundations. They were the cornerstone sof the Castle Towers which were burned down in 1945. They have been relocated to this present site to show how the Castle Towers were like in the past. Then we turned right and entered the main castle square.

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Map of the whole area

We took an elevator which took us into a certain floor. There we looked at some of the exhibits pertaining to the city and castle itself. From maps, armors and paintings of the daily lives in the city. Then we climbed the stairs to see the other exhibits.

“The castle was mostly finished by 1612. Tokugawa Ieyasu’s ninth son, Yoshinao, became the first lord of Owari Province and lived in the castle. After that, the castle flourished as the home castle of the Owari Tokugawa family. The Owari Tokugawa Family was the most important of the three Tokugawa families.

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Castle info

The town of Nagoya became one of the two great castle towns of Japan during the Edo period and Nagoya castle was the third largest after Edo and Osaka. Its position on the Tokaido made it an important commercial center and also a strategic bulwark against any invasion from the west. It remained in the hands of the Tokugawa until the Meiji government took control in 1868. It was used by the Imperial Army from then until 1895, during which time many of the castle’s treasures were defaced and damaged by Imperial soldiers (much as also happened at Nijo castle).


The first 4 floors were dedicated to the exhibits of the city during the Tokugawa while the fifth floor served as an observation deck. We walked around and the view of the city from the top was amazing. I even used their telescope thing to look up close.  Then we went down the form the line and had a picture with the replica of the shachigawara on display.

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“Even after the Meiji Restoration (1868), Nagoya Castle was beautiful and was used temporarily as a palace for the Emperor. It became the first castle to be designated a national treasure in 1930. The Imperial family took direct control of the castle in 1895 and was handed over to the city of Nagoya in 1930.”

While the castle was spared the fate of many other castles at the hands of the Meiji government, it was not to be so lucky on May 14, 1945. On that day American firebombing raid obliterated much of the castle-the tenshu, the secondary tenshu, four corner towers, the Honmaru palace, and dozens of other buildings were destroyed . The people of Nagoya asked for the main castle tower, the symbol of Nagoya, to be built again. At last, it was rebuilt in 1959.


Today only three corner towers (including the most famous original structure of the castle, the Seinan Sumi Yagura) and a gateway survive. A ferroconcrete reproduction of the original castle was built from 1957-1959, and was an excellent replica of the exterior . It cost $1.67 million with an additional $120,000 to replace the 2 gold shachigawara on the roof.

Burning of Nagoya Castle


These shachigawara are most famous one in Japan, -two golden, silver eyed mythical dolphin/tiger hybrids eight feet – eight inches high that were thought to protect the building against fire (the current reproduction ‘dolphins’ are made of copper and each is covered 560 scales of 18 carat gold). The shachi were spared destruction in the early Meiji period, and were shown at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair as prime examples of Japanese craftsmanship and design.”

As I mentioned before we took some photos with the giant shachigawara, and then we looked at more exhibits and walked down out of the main castle. We walked and went to another line. At first, I didn’t know why we were on line until Mafe gave me a brief detail about. Also, this particular area has most of its part covered.

Hommaru Palace

Abundant materials related to Hommaru Palace have survived, including documents, old photographs, survey maps and screen paintings. These records have made hstorically faithful restoration possible, so restoration on the palace started in 2009. The genkan (entrance hall) and omote shoin (main hall) opened to the public on May 29, 2013. The entire palace is set to be completed by 2018.


So now we knew where we were. The line here was usually long and once we got in we had to take our shoes off and put in a locker then in line we passed by some of the finished rooms, which were adorned by different painting. The completed area wasn’t that big and we were done in less than 10 minutes.

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A Royal Room

We continued walking along the castle grounds and looking at the surroundings, taking pictures. Then we stopped by the statue of Kato Kiyomasa.

Kato Kiyomasa

“Kiyomasa Kato (1562-1615) was a Toyotomi and Eastern Army general who was one of the “Seven Spears of Shizugatake”. He was perhaps best known not for a feat in battle in Japan, but in the invasion of Korea in 1592~1598, leading the capture of Hanseong (Seoul), the capital of Choson. He died in the Osaka Campaign, fighting to save the Toyotomi household.”


Aside from being a fierce warrior, he was also a gifted, architect. He designed several castles including the Nagoya Castle.  In this particular statue, he was depicted as carrying the stone on his own and took the onslaught as he carried the boulders. He has the most statues in the whole city of Nagoya,

Here are the links for more information:

Click to access eigo.pdf

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Say Cheez!

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