When traveling through Japan, it’s a common method to take the Shinkansen train west of Tokyo and visit major cities like Kyoto and Hiroshima. One of the largest Japanese cities, Nagoya, lies between Kyoto and Tokyo. This historical city was once one of the most important cities in Japan, as it served as a waypoint along one of the many routes from provincial areas to the capital in Tokyo. Nagoya Castle, a fortification built in the center of the city, used to receive groups such as Korean envoys. The castle site is well-preserved, and is constantly undergoing many reservation projects. Even now, there is a large campaign by the city to raise over 200 billion yen to finance a reconstruction of the central keep, so that Japan’s historical architecture can be preserved for visitors to experience.
We’ve found some of the most interesting places to visit at the Nagoya Castle grounds for visitors. Come see the wide array of things historical Japan has to offer.
The Honmaru residential area is hard to miss for those visiting the castle grounds, as it sits square inside the compound protected by the castle’s second moat layer. The golden rooms of the interior are open for the public to view, and as long as you follow the rules in preserving the palace space, you’ll be able to enjoy your time poring over the various rooms within. Many of the interior rooms were decorated with elaborate imagery for entertaining guests, and the various sliding doorways help enforce the image of ruling-class opulence with the security concerns of the Tokugawa period underlying such designs. If this is your first time visiting a Japanese castle, don’t miss this opportunity to observe some impressive interior decorating.
While visitor’s can’t get up close to the golden Kinshachi statues adorning the topmost roof of Nagoya Castle, you can view a replica inside the castle. Shachi are one of the many Japanese yokai mythical creatures, with the appearance of a tiger’s face on a carp’s body. They were believed to ward off fire by attracting rain, so they are popular guardians of older preserved locations like castles and temples. The history of the kinshachi at Nagoya castle is a busy one, with many transfers of ownership, thefts, and damaging incidences occurring to various kinshachi over the 400-year history of Nagoya Castle. Get an up-close look at how Japan views their spiritual protectors with this full-scale replica in the castle interior.
Take a walk through the tranquil and stylish garden park found in the west of the castle compound. Originally designed in the 17th century, this garden at one point served as one of many secret exits from the castle compound were the residing lord to be attacked. In the modern day, it has been remodeled into a pleasant Japanese garden, where you can walk through while partaking in the air of nature.
After you’re finished visiting the interior of the castle grounds and keep, why not look at the outside enclosure by walking by the moats? Nagoya Castle’s moats are very large and deep, and they have some unique features due to the historical importance of when Nagoya was a castle-town in feudal Japan. You can observe in various parts of the castle grounds that the moat walls come right up against the castle for added defense. This can be observed on the eastern side of the compound, where the moat juts in towards Nagoya Castle. This section of the moat is referred to as the “Cormorant’s Neck”, after the diving bird that was frequently utilized in fishing traditions across Japan.
Have you visited a Japanese Castle before? There are many sites across Japan, each with their own unique landmarks and appealing factors. If you’re planning a trip across Japan and are stopping in the city of Nagoya, why not make a trip out to Nagoya Castle to partake in Japan’s culture of historical preservation?