Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle is the symbol of Nagoya.
The original castle was built in 1612 by Tokugawa Ieyasu (Shogun) for Yoshinao,
his 9th child, but it was burned down during World War II (May 14th 1945),
so the existing donjon was rebuilt in 1959 in honor of the 70th anniversary of the city.

Nagoya Castle was one of the three great
castles in Japan with Kumamoto Castle and Himeji
Castle, and designated as a national treasure
(Pic: copy from a poster in the castle)
Burning Nagoya Castle May 14, 1945
(pic: copy from a poster in the castle)

The original castle was a great one and was constructed using the top technology of the time.
IEYASU put the Saigoku-Daimyos (daimyo means feudal lord), those who had relations
with the TOYOTOMI family, in charge of building the castle.
This proved to be a very effective strategy
to reduce the financial and military power of the Saigoku-Daimyos.

The castle was built to defend against expected attacks from the Toyotomi family,
but the family was killed in 1615 in the battle of Osaka-natsunojin,
allowing the great castle to stand for more than 300 years.

Obtaining large and good stones for the stone walls was difficult and hard work.
Some stones were carried from the Kyushu area, very far from Nagoya.
If you look closely at the stone walls, you will see markings on the stones.
These show the possessor of the stones.
Ieyasu would always watch for a chance to reduce the power of the Saigoku-Daimyo.
He called for a complicated method of construction and declared that
if any of the Saigoku-Daimyos disrupted the building process, they would receive a punishment.
This led to the Saigoku-Daimyo and his followers to begin carving marks on the stones as a self-defense strategy.

- - -
There are approx. 500 kinds of marks
I think finding marks will make you feel like beeing Sherlock Holmes.
Find more marks !
My favorite "kokumon" looks like ohanami-dango :D

The symbol of Nagoya Castle is "Kin no Shachihoko", a pair of gold Shachihoko,
which look like killer whales.
They were crafted not only to show off the power of Ieyasu,
but also took a role of war funds in an emergency

"Kin no Shachihoko" covered with 18-carat scales
Male (North)
2.621m/ 1.272kg (18-carat: 44.69kg)/ 112 scales
View from north-west
(If you enter from the East gate[Shiyakusho
subway station side], these three pictures are
taken from the rear of the castle)
Female (South)
2.579m /1.215kg (18 kcarat: 43.39kg)/ 126 scales

Shachihoko is an imaginary animal which has a face like a tiger and a body like fish.
The shachihoko is modeled after a real killer whale
It is said that as soon as they find fire, they belch out water immediately.
This was a charm to protect the buildings from fire.
You will find a pair of shachihoko on the rooftops of many castles or temples in Japan
The style of putting the shachihoko on top of buildings started in the early Muromachi Era
when Japanese castles first began to take form.

The core of the shachihoko was made of wood,
which was then plated with lead, followed by copper.
The shachihoko was then covered in large-sized as well as thin,
ovalic gold coins of the time.
The larger of these gold coins were very thick and had
a very high purity level (about 80%).
The shachihokos on Nagoya Castle glistened in the sun,
and word of them quickly spread among the people.
However in 1726, 1827, and 1846, when the domain of Owari experiencing financial difficulties,
the Owari government removed the shachihoko scales and recasted them.
The quality of the gold quickly diminished and the shachihoko scales lost their luster.
In addition, the government covered the shachihokos with wire netting
in order to protect them from big water birds named 'kou' in Japanese
(these wire nets made for a funny story later).
A legend said that the 'kou' brings a dead twig aflame.
The 'kou' once made a nest and put the fin to good use.

People didn't know the real meaning why the shachihokos were covered with a wire net.
Many people guessed that it is the protection against a thief.
At that time, there was a habitual thief named Kakinoki Kinsuke.
He was caught and received the death penalty, but was granted a stay
because of a special festival and exiled instead.
Afterwards, he still continued his work and was arrested again,
but lucky for him, a large typhoon came and he took advantage of the confusion
to make his escape. But at last, he was arrested again and was crucified.
After his death, his head was hung at a prison gate as a deterrent.
People said that he stole the scales of the golden shachihoko by using a very large kite,
but there is no documented proof.

In 1937, a real phantom thief appeared.
He used a scaffold which the Nagoya City government had produced
for making a measured drawing.
He stole 58 of the 112 scales from the male shachihoko (on the north side).
It was big news, but the city government put pressure
on mass communication not to write about the affair.
Complying with this, the press instead printed photos
of the donjon or of the donjon without the shachihokos*
After viewing these pictures, some people suspected
that something bad had happened at Nagoya Castle.
The city mayor was very perplexed as the shachihoko was
part of a national treasure that Nagoya city had just received
from the Imperial Household Agency in 1930.
While the goverment was in confusion,
the thief casted the scales into gold ingots and sold them to many marchants.
However, he was arrested a month following the incident.

These pictures were taken during a period after 1870,
when the shachihokos were taken down
in order to show them in expositions in many places.
Once, the shachihokos traveled overseas and were displayed
in the world exposition in Vienna


Nagoya Castle was built at the north edge of the Nagoya diluvial tableland, natural fortfication.

Nagoya is roughly devided into three configurations.
Center Naka, Higashi,
Showa, Mizuho,
part of Atsuta,
part of Minami
tableland, smoothly slope
down and away
from north to south
East Moriyama, Chikusa,
Tempaku, Midori
gradual hilly terrain 50-100m
Kita, Nishi, Nakamura,
Nakagawa, Minato,
part of Atsuta,
part of Minami
lowland River floodplain



You can enjoy 360-degree
panoramic views
and buy very Nagoyan souvenirs

You may take photographs
on this floor

You can take photos with a
full-scale model shachihoko.
You can also try to pull a
stone for stone walls.
You may take photographs
on the 5th floor

Display of armors, weapons, etc.

You may take photographs
on the 4th floor

You can feel the life of the lord
and the commonalty in the Edo period.

You may take photographs
on the 3rd floor
2F Special exhibition

Do not take photographs or movies.

Swords pic Tsuba

Do not take flash photographs.

Replica of shachihoko

Conveyance of high
class people in
the Edo period

<= Well in a restored condition

You may take photographs
on the B1

Spring Omotenashi-Bushotai performance
at Ninomaru-Hiroba map


 Address:  1-1 Honmaru Naka-ku Nagoya
 TEL  (052)231-1700
 Hours  9:00-16:30(During Sakura Festival and Summer Festival extended till 21:00)
 Closed  Dec.29-Jan.1
 Admission  500 yen (Under15free, Nagoya citizen age of over 65100yen)
Get off at SHIYAKUSHO on the MEIJO Subway Line, go through exit No.7
5 minutes walk
  h13 (Sakae 13), h27 (Sakae 27), (Nishi-Junkai) Get off at É鐳O(Nagoyajo Seimon-mae)
[O(Meguru sightseeing route bus) Get off at É(Nagoyajo)

Official mascot character of Nagoya Castle

Free Guided Tour of Nagoya Castle
*English speaking guide
*Every Sunday
*Meet at 13:30 at East Gate (Higashi-Mon ) of Nagoya Castle
*Entrance fee(500yen) is required
*No reservation required