Monday, January 27, 2014

Nagoya's Castle - Nagoya Jo

If there is anything that can be called as the true symbol of Nagoya, it is undoubtedly the Nagoya-Jo. Nagoya Jo as the castle is locally known is a symbol of Nagoya's pride and power, a symbol of its glorious past and significance during the shogunate.  
In the year 1612, the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered that the seat of the Owari clan be moved from Kiyosu to current day's Nagoya area. The original castle was built as a part of this move and the original castle is said to have been constructed using material from the Kiyosu castle. The castle was one of the largest castles in the country and the castle town surrounding the castle developed over the centuries to become Japan's 4th largest city. 
A miniature model inside the castle's museum displays what the castle and the surrounding areas looked like in the past.
Most of the castle buildings were destroyed during the WWII , in the air raids of 1945 to be precise. Remnants of this can be seen on the castle grounds.

 The current castle building was reconstructed in 1959 and currently too the castle is undergoing a massive reconstruction. The reconstruction which began in 2009 is expected to last till 2018. The reconstruction is being carried out in phases and parts of the castle have been opened to public in 2013. a major part is scheduled to open in 2016 and the remaining in 2018. The current works are being carried out to rebuild the castle's palace, Honmaru Goten using traditional construction techniques so as to keep it as close to the original structure. 

The main gate and the reception room is open to the public. 

Inside the castle keep are a museum showcasing various treasures, objects and armour belonging to the three aristrocratic families, Tokugawa, Toyotomi and Oda.Surprising the interiors are modern with a elevator included! 

The castle roof are adorned by 3 meter long replicas of the Shachi-hoko, which are dolphin like sea creatures. 
Shachihoko or shachi is an animal in Japanese folklore, which has the body of a carp fish while its face and head resembles that of a tiger. It was believed that this animal caused rainfall and as such roofs of temples and castles were often adorned with these in an order to protect them from fire.
The Shachihoko which adorn Nagoya jo are called "Kin no Shachi" or Golden shachi. Nagoya castle was the only castle to boast of an golden shachi during the Edo period ! Today the golden shachi hoko are a symbol of Nagoya and replicas are sold as souvenirs of Nagoya.
 Another replica inside the keep is a much sought after photo-spot ! 

The topmost floor of the Castle keep has an observatory which provides a 360 degree panoramic view of Nagoya city. 

This floor also has a shop selling Nagoya souvenirs.

The Meijo Koen surrounding the Nagoya castle is one of the largest green spaces in the centre of the city. It is a popular spot among locals for morning walks and jogging. During Cherry Blossom season, Meijo park is a popular hanami spot.

The castle is also lit up in the summer and makes a pretty sight. 

The castle is so integral a part of Nagoya's history that it and the shachihoko are also part of Nagoya's manhole covers. 

Admission: 500 yen (Adult): 
                Junior High School students and under : Free

Opening Hours: 9:00 -16:30 hrs

Closed: 29th December to 1st January.

Address: 1-1-1, Honmaru, Nagoya Jo, Nagoya, Aichi - 460031

Phone: 052-201-3646 

Parking lots: Ample Paid parking available. 

Access: The nearest subway station is Shiyakusho station on the Meijo subway Line. 

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