Jeffer's Odyssey

Nagoya, Japan 2014: To The Nagoya Castle

There are probably two ways to spend a holiday: rest or sightsee. For me, I prefer the latter. So, upon arrival at around 1pm in Nagoya via shinkansen from Kyoto, we immediately checked in at BestWestern Hotel Nagoya in Sakae, freshened up a bit (or tried to), and immediately proceeded to pay a visit to Nagoya Castle before heading to the Arashi concert later that evening (I talked about the Digitalian concert in this post.

Nagoya Castle is, quite probably, the most notable cultural-historical attraction in Nagoya. In fact, it’s said to be the “symbol of Nagoya”.

I’m going to split my posts on our visit to Nagoya Castle into three. Just because this place deserves more than one post. 🙂

The Nagoya Castle (the whole castle town, really) is yet another of the many places built by Tokugawa Ieyasu all over Japan. This was in 1610, right after he won in the Battle of Sekigahara. According to later documents, the grid pattern that was used in building the castle town was also the basis or model for the modern Nagoya as it is today.

After it was built, it became the official residence or home of the Owari Tokugawa family, the most important out of the three Tokugawa families at the time. It also became the temporary palace of the Emperor of Japan after the Meiji Restoration in 1868. It also holds the distinction of being the first ever castle to be designated as a National Treasure; this was in 1930.

Of course, just like other castles in 0ther places, Nagoya Castle had its fair share of destruction. During World War II, it was severely damaged, and it took the clamor of the people to convince the powers-that-be to rebuild it. It was finally rebuilt in 1959.

From Sakae Station, we took the subway (Meijo line) and got off at the Shiyakusho (City Hall) Station after around 3 minutes. This is the most often recommended route, because it’s just a 3-minute walk from the station’s exit to the Castle’s East Gate.

I liked how quaint the exit of the Station looked like. 🙂 It was definitely in keeping with the theme of the place, considering how, once you step out, you’re already in the Nagoya Castle Zone.

nagoya castle japan 02 nagoya castle japan 03The Nagoya Castle Zone had several notable places: the Nagoya Castle itself, the Nagoya Noh Theater (a performance hall), the Nagoya City Archives, and Meijo Park.

Given the limited time that we had, we picked only one place: the Nagoya Castle.

The walk towards the East Gate was quite a pleasant one, thanks in large part to the fall colors, and the very few people around. On the right is the Ninomaru Higashi Pay Parking Lot, and on the left are the castle town’s stone walls.

nagoya castle japan 04 nagoya castle japan 05 nagoya castle japan 06Then it’s time to cross the bridge to the East Gate. And buy your admission ticket. Admission fee for adults is 500yen.

nagoya castle japan 07 nagoya castle japan 08Upon gaining admission, you’ll immediately get to the Ninomaru area. From the distance, you will immediately be able to spot the towering Main Castle Tower.

nagoya castle japan 09Turn right a bit to take a walk through the Ninomaru East Garden. But I was actually more captivated with the smaller garden next to it, the Ninomaru Garden.

The Ninomaru Garden is essentially a Japanese dry landscape garden, and was built in 1620, simultaneous with the construction of the Ninomaru Palace within the castle walls. It was designed to represent “steep hills, forests, and deep valleys.” It somehow reminded me of the small rock gardens we were tasked to create back in high school, but on a larger, grander scale.

This spot also happened to be the site of Nagoya Castle Ruins.

nagoya castle japan 11 nagoya castle japan 12 nagoya castle japan 13The Ninomaru Garden gave off that serene vibe, which I loved. There is the Ninomaru Teahouse close by, for those who wish to get some tea time while enjoying the garden view.

nagoya castle japan 14 nagoya castle japan 15 nagoya castle japan 16nagoya castle japan 17nagoya castle japan 18I found that you can easily lose track of time here.

Photo by Peach.
Photo by Peach.
nagoya castle japan 27 peach
Photo by Peach.

Between the Ninomaru Garden and the Main Castle Keep area is the Ninomaru Square.

nagoya castle japan 19All the trees and shrubs here are so well-kept, as expected from traditional Japanese gardens. Even walking through paths is a feast for the senses.

nagoya castle japan 26And then we came past this area: the Statue of Kiyomasa Pulling Stone (this is how the official brochure called it on the map, haha!)

Aside from being a general, Kiyomasa Kato was also an engineer, which made him ideal for the job of having a big hand in building the castle’s defenses. Legend has it that he personally hauled this huge stone and stood on it. I dunno, he must have ant-like capabilities or something.

nagoya castle japan 20nagoya castle japan 21nagoya castle japan 22If you look on the other side, you’ll see this:

nagoya castle japan 23We saw traces of reconstruction going on, especially in the moat around the castle walls. There was no water, and it was filled with huge slabs of rock covered with blue plastic material. I think the reconstruction is still going on to this day, and I can only give compliments to the Japanese people and their government for the initiative and dedication that they put into preserving their heritage. We can only hope that it also happens with us here.

nagoya castle japan 24I’m going to continue the visit to Nagoya Castle recap in my next blog post, and leaving you with a shot of these adorable schoolchildren who are clearly on a class trip to this place. Even their bags are uniform~!

nagoya castle japan 25See ya next post!

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