Japan

Find high-class shelter inside Nagoya Castle, a historic gem

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Nagoya Castle was founded by Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder of the 2.5-century Tokugawa shogunate. Completed in 1615, Nagoya Castle is located in the center of the Japanese city. (Juan King/The Stars and Stripes)

On a cloudy day with sporadic downpours, we found refuge inside Nagoya Castle, one of Japan’s most important national treasures, in Nagoya, Japan.

The building was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate in the 2 ½ century, and completed in 1615, and is located in the city center.

There is a wide path with a rope path outside the entrance, heralding a popular tourist destination, but when my family went to the information window to buy tickets, the castle was almost empty.

The main gate of Nagoya Castle, one of Japan's most important national treasures, is located in Nagoya, Japan.

The main gate of Nagoya Castle, one of Japan’s most important national treasures, is located in Nagoya, Japan. (Juan King/The Stars and Stripes)

Visitors enter from the Nishinomaru Enonita Gate, which is the gate of the city gate.

Mostly Japanese is spoken here, but we could easily get around the castle grounds without a guide. Information maps in English and other languages ​​are available at the gate. Masks are also required inside.

When we entered, a snack bar was on our right and there was also a place to sit and eat. We struggled through the mushy gravel and were suddenly flooded. Umbrella blocked some.

The interior view of the main citadel of the castle is not an option. The old castle will be closed for reconstruction until 2028.

The Honmaru Palace in Nagoya, Japan, was the residence of the Owari Tokugawa clan and was used for official business by high-ranking officials.

The Honmaru Palace in Nagoya, Japan, was the residence of the Owari Tokugawa clan and was used for official business by high-ranking officials. (Juan King/The Stars and Stripes)

We instead head to the second gate or the second front gate, which is located in the center of the castle. There, we found the Honmaru Palace, which was destroyed by fire during World War II but was rebuilt and opened for viewing in 2018.

To get inside, you first watch a video of the correct behavior there. We locked our umbrellas outside, took off our shoes and put on slippers in the entrance hall. A waiter took us to the key locker where we kept our shoes and other items.

    The Honmaru Palace in Nagoya, Japan, was the residence of the Owari Tokugawa clan and was used for official business by high-ranking officials.

The Honmaru Palace in Nagoya, Japan, was the residence of the Owari Tokugawa clan and was used for official business by high-ranking officials. (Juan King/The Stars and Stripes)

The palace has gorgeous Edo period art and exquisite design and is very spacious. From the tatami floors to the delicate cypress tree foundations that pervade the cozy, enclosed rooms, this is a photographer’s paradise.

Each room has the insignia of the lord or samurai who once lived there. The Honmaru Palace was the residence of the Owari Tokugawa family and was used for official business by the senior nobles.

Tigers, dragons, cranes and other artworks are painted on the walls of the Honmaru Palace in Nagoya, Japan, in bright colors.

Tigers, dragons, cranes and other artworks are painted on the walls of the Honmaru Palace in Nagoya, Japan, in bright colors. (Juan King/The Stars and Stripes)

Silkscreen tigers, dragons, cranes and other artworks grace the golden wood walls with vibrant colors. The palace consists of 13 buildings and more than 30 rooms, including the Yudo Shoin, the bathing place of the shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu. The architecture of the ceiling is also encouraging.

Back outside the palace was an opportunity for a professional photo shoot with the main castle in the background, but the long queue put us off. Ninja or costumed samurai actors also wander the grounds and are willing to pose for pictures.

Ninja or costumed samurai actors also stroll around Nagoya Castle in Nagoya, Japan, and are willing to pose for pictures.

Ninja or costumed samurai actors also stroll around Nagoya Castle in Nagoya, Japan, and are willing to pose for pictures. (Juan King/The Stars and Stripes)

More exploration involves walking along the Nanban or “European” wall; it stretches a long way from east to west, close to the Ninomaru Gardens that we also explored.

After leaving the peaceful but wet castle grounds, we visited one of the souvenir and snack bars there. From cookies and cakes emblazoned with castles to wooden swords and beautifully decorated mugs, everything is sold as memories to take home.

The castle has a lot of history to absorb, and it is meticulously maintained since it is listed as a Japanese National Treasure.

on QT

Place: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka-ku, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture 460-0031

direction: 10 minutes by taxi from Nagoya Station.

Hour: 9 am to 4:30 pm daily. Closed from December 29th to January 1st.

cost: 500 yen, or about $3.70; free for junior high school students and younger.

food: There are small shops on the castle grounds selling snacks, ice cream and other goods.

Information: www.nagoyajo.city.nagoya.jp/en/. The Aichi Goodwill Guides Network offers free English-language tours. Email guide-desk@aggn.jp or call 0561-75-6977 for more information.

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