Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Inuyama: Inuyama Castle and Shirotomachi

Inuyama is a city in Aichi Prefecture, less than an hour's drive from Nagoya. It's name literally means "Dog Mountain". The city is has many attractions to lure tourists or even locals looking for a leisurely outing. Inuyama is located along the picturesque Kiso river, also referred to as Japanese Rhine, which separates the city from the neighbouring Gifu prefecture. In summer, Cormorant fishing is conducted in the evenings in the Kiso river in Inuyama attracting many visitors.The city is also home to Meiji Mura, a popular open air theme park built around the theme of the Meiji Period. It is also home to the Japan Monkey Park, an amusement park cum Monkey park. But the most important of the city's attractions is its castle, the Inuyama-jo. 
Inuyama-jo is a small but well preserved castle located on a hill overlooking the city. It is one of the few wooden castles in Japan surviving in its original state. The castle has also survived various wars and natural disasters. The castle has been designated a national treasure. 
The castle was built in 1537 by Oda Nobuyasu, the uncle of popular warlord Oda Nobunaga. The castle was built on the site of the old Harigane Jinja, which was relocated to Shirayamdaira to make way for the castle. The castle moved between various families, till it was taken over by Naruse family  who owned it since 1616 till it was taken over by the Meiji government who held it till 1895 when it was handed back to the Naruse family. The castle was one of the last remaining privately owned castles till it was handed over to a state owned trust.
The castle is built entirely of wood and rocks and its interiors have been preserved well to retain its original look.

Visitors can scale the castle's steep wooden stairs to explore the four stories. 
Few old artifacts and armors are also on display within the castle.
A miniature model of the castle is also on display.
Visitors can look out of the windows to see picturesque views. 

The top most level offers panoramic views of the city, the Kiso river and also Nagoya in the distance.    


At the foot of the path leading up to the castle are the Haritsuna Jinja and the Sanko Inari Jinja.




Tickets to the Inuyama castle also include entrance to the Shirotomachi Museum and the Karakuri Puppet Museum. 
The Shirotomachi Museum is where various artifacts related to the city's history and culture are on display.
The museum also has on display a miniature model of the city, in its old days, with the castle on the hilltop and the mechanical floats passing through the old town.

 Small models of the various kinds of mechanical floats are also on display. 




The Karakuri Puppet museum across the street, has on display about 10 Karakuri Mechanical dolls which perform atop the mechanical floats in the annual Inuyama Matsuri in April.



Few cultural artifacts are also on display in the exhibit room.Outside the museum, objects associated with cormorant fishing such as a boat, stuffed cormorant bird etc are on display.
On certain days, visitors can also see the master puppet maker demonstrate Karakuri doll making. 

When we visited Inuyama castle and the museums in February, two Hina Matsuri Doll exhibits were on display at the Inuyama city Welfare centre down the street. 


Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll on the street.


Address: Aichi Prefecture, 484-0082, Inuyama city, Kitakoken - 65-2, Inuyama castle

Phone: 0568-61-1711

Opening time: 9:00 to 16:30

Closing days : December 29- January 1

Admission : Adults :500 yen; Children 100 yen
                   Includes entrance to Karakuri Puppet museum and Shirotomachi Museum.

Parking : Paid Parking available

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