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Castle Nagoya Castle

This article is in the series Walking the Japanese Castles
Nagoya Castle (名古屋城 Nagoya-jō) ranks among the three greatest Japanese castles and was built after the Battle of Sekigahara (1600) by Tokugawa Ieyasu, as a defence against the Toyotomi who still had held significant power. Ieyasu appointed his son Yoshinao (徳川義直, 1601-1650), the founder of the Owari Tokugawa family. to hold this most important castle.

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Ieyasu ordered Katō Kiyomasa (加藤清正, 1562-1611) and other western daimyōs to construct the castle. They began construction in 1610, and the castle tower, the turrets, Honmaru Palace and Ninomaru Palace were completed by 1617. To avoid confusion at the constructing site, the master builders carved their own mark on their stones.

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In addition, the second enclosure of the new castle held the old Nagoya Castle which had been built by the Imagawa in the 1520s. In 1532, Oda Nobuhide captured it and made it his base until his son Nobunaga moved to Kiyosu Castle (清洲城) in western Aichi. After the Meiji Restoration, it became an army base, then came under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Ministry. Later, it was transferred to Nagoya City and opened to the public in 1931. A lot of buildings like the castle tower and Honmaru Palace had survived and were designated a National Treasure. However, many buildings including the donjon were destroyed in a U.S. air raid in the final years of World War II. After the war, the castle tower and the main gate were restored. Honmaru Palace was completely renovated in 2018.

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The map was based on Google Earth. The location of enclosures is based on my estimation.

We approached the front gate from Shiyakushomae Station on the Nagoya Subway Line. It is a most magnificent castle, the stone wall and the (dry) moats spread out endlessly.

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① Ninomaru Ote Second Gate

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② Below, the main gate, where we paid and entered the site.

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③ An old well at the western enclosure (西之丸).

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The moat between the western enclosure and Ofuke enclosure (御深井丸). Though Nagoya Castle is located on a plain, moats were set up everywhere.

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④ Foundation stones of the castle tower. When the castle tower was rebuilt in 1959, the stones were transferred here. Now, they have turned into a playground for children.

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⑤ Here, the symbol of Nagoya, its castle tower (天守). It consists of a large and a small tower.

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The two towers are connected by "Tsurugi Wall" (literally "sword wall"). It is so because sharp swords were aligned under its eaves to prevent the enemy from intruding.

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There are many dioramas displayed in the castle tower. Here, a reconstructed model of old Nagoya City and Kinshachi ("Gold shachi"). Shachi are legendary creatures said to be able to summon water. They have been used as charms on rooftops to prevent fire. Nagoya Castle is very famous for its golden shachi.

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⑥ Honmaru Palace (本丸御殿) was under restoration, but it reopened partly in 2018. It is built in its original style as faithfully as much as possible. There is no air conditioner inside.

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The sliding paper-doors covered in gold leaf and shining in the dim light are most impressive.

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The construction was still ongoing, but visitors were able to observe the renovation works.

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⑦ Kiyomasa Stone (清正石), a large stone two metres in height and six metres in width.

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⑧ Former Ninomaru East Second Gate (Important Cultural Property): it was removed from Ninomaru Palace and rebuild in the Edo Period.

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⑨ Front Second Gate (Important cultural property). Its roofs are covered with steel sheets and the gate itself is solidly constructed of thick timber.

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⑩ Southeast Corner Turret (Important cultural property). The Northeast and Southwest turrets survived, too, and all of them were designated as Important cultural properties.

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⑪ The castle tower seen from the second enclosure.

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⑫ The site of Uzumi gate. Covered in grass, we could not make it out easily, but there are stairs leading down to the bottom of the moat. It is said to be the emergency evacuation route.

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⑬ The site of the Namban (western-style) plaster wall. It was extremely solid and fitted with circular loopholes.

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Date of visit: 14th September 2013


Access:

  • Address: Honmaru, Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi
  • Transportation: (To the main gate)
    10 minutes from Nagoya Subway Meijo line Shiyakusho station on foot
    1km from Nagoya Expressway Ring route Marunouchi Exit via National Route 22
  • Other sights: Suemori Castle

Map:


  • Informative
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Hiroto Uehara
Hiroto is an ordinary Japanese office worker, but his true mission is searching for castles on the weekend.

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