Nagoya Castle (名古屋城 Nagoya-jō) was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1609-14 on the site of a smaller castle taken over and renamed by Oda Nobunaga’s father, Oda Nobuhide (織田信秀, 1510-1551). The castle was abandoned by the Oda clan in 1582 and reconstructed by the victorious Ieyasu to ensure the security of the Tōkai region (東海地方, “Eastern Sea”). It served as the residence of Ieyasu’s ninth son, Tokugawa Yoshinao (徳川義直, 1601-1650), who was installed as the daimyo of the Owari Domain (尾張藩 Owari han), the largest Tokugawa fief apart from the shogunal land itself, and the foremost among the gosanke (御三家), the three houses of the Tokugawa. The Tokugawa-Owari maintained control of the castle until the Meiji Restoration (1868).

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The city of Nagoya grew and expanded around the castle, which – thanks to its lavish decorations and furnishings – is considered an excellent example of late Momoyama architecture. Nagoya Castle is usually associated with its splendid kinshachi (金鯱), two golden sea creatures resembling dolphins that adorn the roof of the castle. Each kinshachi is almost three metres high and covered with golden scales: the northern kinshachi is male, has 112 scales and is coated with 44.7 kg of gold, while the southern is female, with 126 scales and covered in 44.3 kilograms of gold. The magnificent five-storied donjon was destroyed on 14 May 1945 by American air raids on the castle grounds which were used as the Tōkai district army headquarters and as a POW camp by the Imperial Japanese Army. Three original corner turrets, the second front gate, and the stone foundation walls survived the conflagration, while the rest of the castle buildings, including the golden dolphins, which decorate the gable roof ends of the new ferroconcrete main keep were reconstructed in 1959.

The Honmaru Palace (本丸御殿 honmaru-goten) south of the main keep, which had initially served as the offices and the residence of Tokugawa Yoshinao and which was a prime example of the classic Shoin-zukuri (書院造) architectural style is currently being reconstructed and is expected to open to the public in 2018. Many of its beautifully decorated sliding screens (襖 fusuma) survived the war and are currently being restored to be displayed there once Honmaru Palace will be re-inaugurated.

Nagoya Castle was designated an Important Cultural Property in 1930.

See our Nagoya Castle gallery.

Visiting hours and admission:

Admission: 500 JPY for adults, 450 JPY for groups of 30, and 400 JPY for groups of over 100 people.

Opening hours: daily from 09:00 to 16:30 (access to the donjon until 16:10); closed from December 29 to January 1.

Location and access:

You can reach Nagoya Castle by subway (Meijo Line, Shiyakusho Station M07).

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Map: