Castles, no matter what shape or form, are cool. Nagoya's version is no exception.
If you’re into your samurai history (or you’ve just watched History of Japan on YouTube too many times) then you’ll be excited to know that one of the quintessential big shots of the time, Tokugawa Ieyasu, is responsible for commissioning the original castle. Completed in 1612, this imposing construction would have had an almost flawless view of the old town from central Nagoya up to the beautiful mountains that surround the flatlands below.
On a clear day, you can head up to the Donjon Observation Deck and pretend that you, too, are a samurai surveying your hard-won territory.
If you visit during spring or autumn, you will be met with a stunning array of cherry blossoms or fire-coloured leaves adorning the many trees found on the castle grounds: the perfect place for a relaxing picnic in the sun. Also, don’t forget to say hi to the curious herd of deer that congregate in the castle’s moat.
Inside the castle itself is a museum detailing the life of those who would have built the castle and lived within its shadow.
Again, for you history nerds, there is lots of information about samurai warfare and how the castle was able to protect itself during its owners inevitable clashes with nearby scheming overlords. Original swords, armor and helmets from Nagoya Castle’s collection are also displayed. On the first floor of the museum is an exhibit of original murals and artwork that used to decorate Hommaru Palace, a smaller building next to the castle itself that you can still visit.
Unfortunately, the castle as it stands today is not the original. During the second world war, Nagoya Castle was in the firing range and unfortunately much of it was completely destroyed. However, castles burning down happened a lot during Japanese history (no one seems to have caught on that wooden buildings are not a good mix when it comes to war and lightning…) and as a result, the reconstruction is fantastic. Definitely a must-see on a trip down to Nagoya.