Nagoya: Exploring Nagoya Castle (名古屋城)
One of the iconic landmark of Nagoya, the Nagoya Castle was built during Edo Period. Survived many wars and calamities, this castle has become a part of the culture of Nagoya for centuries. Since it is just near the venue of a conference the wandering sheep attended, we didn’t waste a chance to visit there.
Map is just our guide, so we didn’t know that we just entered the East gate. We were welcomed by dry Japanese garden as we enter the gate. About 14,000 sq. m. wide, the garden was adorned with different kinds of peonies and flowers. It is also one of the Hanami spots (lit. flower viewing) during cherry blossom starting every March or April.
On southern part of the castle, we saw two castle towers. Southwest tower (Hitsuji-saru tower) and southeast tower (Tatsumi tower) were erected for castle defense. The symbol of chrysanthemum (the Imperial crest) can be seen on the ridge-end tiles, while below the complex is surrounded by moat which acts as added protection to invaders.
Not too far away below the castle is the Honmaru Goten or castle’s palace. The single-storied structure was the primary address of feudal lords which has over 30 rooms and a total area of 3,100 sq. m.
It was destroyed during air raid of World War 2 but was reconstructed last 2009 using the traditional materials and methods. As a sign of respect and for preservation of the place, shoes and other similar footwear should be left behind to the lockers before entering (just like which was commonly practiced on Japanese traditional houses where only socks were allowed). Upon entering the palace, we can feel the serenity of the place, as well as the admiration to the Japanese people on how they treasure their historical places such as this. We have seen paintings and also fusuma or sliding door on each of every room inside the palace.
It is constructed at the beginning of the Edo Period in Japan to become the seat of power by one of the members of the ruling Tokugawa Family, the Owari. Being one of the largest castles in the country, its sheer size probably attracted many people to settle around it. Eventually, the settlement grew into a city and Nagoya became one of the largest cities in Japan (being fourth, actually).
The castle was not spared during the Second World War, and most of the site was razed by the bombings. Until recently, the reconstruction of the castle is still being undertaken by the government. There is a new museum that shows the history of the Nagoya as well as the castle. Among those displayed are some of the seals that were used by the ruling clans (if you are an anime fan you can relate to some of the seals on display). At the topmost floor, there is a view deck and a souvenir shop. And despite of being somewhat old-fashioned an elevator was installed here.
One of the unusual and famous figures associated with the Nagoya Castle are the golden dolphins, or kinshachi. They can be seen at the topmost part of the castle roof. It is said that it was completed during the Muruomachi Era (1334-1400) as a symbol of the feudal lord’s authority. During the Second World War it is unfortunately one of the casualties, but were quickly reconstructed in 1959 to the delight of the local population. A full-sized replica of the Kinshachi was installed inside the castle where visitors can sit, pose and take photos.
As we stroll around the complex we felt as if we are being teleported into one of the animes and manga scenes that we had been watching and reading. We also glimpsed on a news crew having a taping while donning a pink ninja suit. We were leaving the Castle but we’re still wondering why and how large are the imaginations of the Japanese people especially in the manga and anime – the history and culture are still alive and vibrant in this country. During our visit our knowledge on the history of this country had grown. The names of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu and others that we were reading in the manga are actually real personalities that have tragic and sorrowful lives.
Note: ¥1 is PhP0.50
From Nagoya Station, take the Higashiyama Subway Line to Sakae Station (5 minutes) and change to the Meijo Subway line to Shiyakusho Station (2 minutes). The total one way journey takes about ten minutes and costs ¥240. From the nearest exit, it is a three minute walk to the castle’s east gate.
Alternatively, the castle’s main gate can be reached from Nagoya Station by the Meguru tourist loop bus in about 25 minutes. The fare is ¥200 per ride or ¥500 for a day pass.
Another way of pronouncing Nagoya Castle (名古屋城) is Meijō (名城). This name can be found for many things in the city, such as the Meijō Park, the Meijō Line and Meijo University. (Wikipedia)