After the tour ended yesterday, I took the subway over to the Nagoya
Castle, which is one of the few sights worth visiting in this town,
from what I've been told. They close early on fall/winter days, so I
had to hurry through.
The main castle buildings and the lord's palace built inside the walls
were destroyed in 1945 by a US bombing raid (oops, I wonder if it was a
mistake or not? I know that the Air Force tried to avoid hitting
historic sites in Kyoto). Like Kumamoto castle and almost all the other
ones in Japan, this one has been rebuilt to match original
plans/photos/drawings (from the outside only)
But some of the original corner towers survived the bombing. This one
was built in 1612 (according to the old guy working inside). It was
open to the public, which was surprising.
Its a bit creepy and dark inside, like an old barn... but what was more
creepy was what I found inside... two M0rmon kids! I bumped into them
on upper level (trapped!) -- Normally when you see a Morm0n missionary
in Japan, they're wearing a white short sleeve shirt and tie with a
name-tag. Usually you see them in pairs on bikes, wearing bicycle
helmets (no one in Japan ever wears bicycle helmets except for like Tour
De France types). So they're easy to spot from far away and can be
But these guys fooled me, since it was a bit chilly yesterday, they
were wearing sport jackets over their standard issue uniform, so I
didn't realize they were morm0ns til one of them turned and said in an
excessively cheerful voice
- I said "California" and moved along quickly. I know enough about them and their
So I quickly moved along to the main castle tower (known as the 'donjon'- the father of that guy from Miami Vice).
Actually this castle tower is bigger than the one in Kumamoto. It has
two buildings, You have to enter through the small one and then pass
through an enclosed passage to the big one. - its not enclosed from the
top though, so if you did breach the small tower and tried to make it
to the big one through that path, you'd be a sitting duck for archers
if you tried to make it in the passage.
In front of the tower, at the sight of the former palace, they had
this.... some sort of historical diaorama, but with flowers for
This castle's most famous feature was the two giant gold dolphins on
the roof (see above picture). This one is a gold-painted mock-up in the
basement. They made a big deal about the huge historical and cultural
significance of the dolphins as a local and national treasure - they
were apparently removed from the original castle when the Meiji
government decided to destroy the castle, and toured the country, and
were sent to some world's fair in Europe, before being returned to the
castle when they decided to keep it. Almost made me feel guilty that
the castle was burnt down in WWII destroying the original dolphins with
all that history....
BUT the significance of all that was kind of ruined when I read on
another display in the museum how the pre-war dolphins weren't actually
the original ones, they had apparently been melted down and recast
THREE times over the centuries. It appeared that everytime the local
government was going through hard times and needed to free up some
spending money, they'd melt the dolphins down take the gold and recast
it with less gold (a less pure alloy)... (insert lame joke about
liquidating your assets).
Here's the view from the top. I took pictures from all four sides, but
to be honest they were all kind of the same (unattractive). Regular
Japanese cities might not be that good looking skyline-wise, but Nagoya
is definitely worse.
A view from the back side, with another one of the original corner towers.
Here's the lord that made the castle (Tokogawa?) He had a big statue out front next to the Nagoya Noh theater.
If I remember correctly, this brings my total of Japanese castles
visited to SIX (Kumamoto, Kokura, Osaka, Kyoto(Nijojo), Karatsu,
Nagoya). Not including the Ruins of Fuku0ka castle. I think there are
like 40+ ones of various size left. I'll have to hit up at least a few
more before I finish here.
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