Nagoya Castle / 名古屋城

January 21, 2011


Today I set out for Nagoya Castle fairly early, since it was one of the few things that opens earlier than 10 a.m. It was literally right outside the subway exit (Shiyakusho on the Meijo Line), so finding it wasn't a problem. The sky was blue and the sun was out, but it would gradually cloud over and start raining later in the evening.


Outside the castle, a family of deer lounged in the sunshine. The castle walls are quite high (about thirty - forty feet?) and sloped, and the deer were between the castle wall and the retaining wall. Once inside, the donjon was the only place with a bathroom (the reconstructed castle didn't have any inside!), strangely enough. There were numerous suits of samurai armor and weapons (a lot of 19th-century Japanese firearms), sword guards, elegant stirrups, etc., several intricate wooden models of the original palace compound (which is currently being reconstructed with an estimated opening date of 2018), and a fun "castle town" featuring models of various town shops with sound effects.


There were some beautiful gold-plated ornaments and reproductions of elaborately painted screens. There's also a kitchy photo op with a stone wall and a life-size replica of the shakihocho that you can climb on and have your photo snapped by your pals. The views from the top were quite good, although enclosed (at Inuyama, you can climb out onto a rickety narrow observation walkway that runs around the perimeter). Back on the castle grounds, at least two teahouses have been restored. One featured a surprising collection of paper dolls. But these aren't your childhood paper dolls; molded from elegantly patterned wagashi, the level of detail was astounding. Kimonos, Samurai armor, even hair were sculpted from paper, with hundreds of lords, ladies and samurai posed in various seasonal processions.


As I walked off the grounds, there was some kind of costumed comedy show going on. I couldn't understand the Japanese, but just the actors' buffoonery made me smile. However, my plans to continue to Tokugawa-en were torpedoed after I discovered that it's off the subway line, and I couldn't catch a bus despite walking quite a distance, so I will do so at a later date. All in all, a bargain for 500 yen.


Update: I just found out that one of my students visited Nagoya Castle on the same day, but he went in the afternoon, so we didn't run into each other.














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