Nagoya Castle located in the heart of the city of Nagoya is one of the grandest castles in Japan. It was the first castle designated a National Treasure in 1931 before being destroyed by the air-raids of the second world war.
Since then Nagoya Castle, its grounds and buildings have been reconstructed to introduce visitors to the splendor and importance of the castle throughout history.
A guide to visiting Nagoya Castle
History of Nagoya Castle
When Tokugawa Ieyasu won against his long time enemy Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 he united the country under his leadership. He declared himself Shogun (military leader) of Japan and moved his capital to Edo (now Tokyo).
His enemies were situated around the Osaka area and therefore he started multiple construction projects as a line of defense against his enemies. The most important of which was Nagoya Castle.
Until that time the city of Nagoya didn’t exist and the largest settlement in the area was Kiyosu a nearby castle town.
Find out more about Nagoya by reading the Nagoya Travel Guide.
The castle was not only built as an important stronghold against his enemies but also to impress. Only the best materials were used, the grounds were spacious with tea houses and gardens, the main keep was grand and residence splendid. Everything was surrounded by two walls with watchtowers as well as a moat to make it difficult to attack the castle.
Nagoya Castle’s construction finished in record time in 1617. But its defenses were never tested as Japan entered in the longest period of peace it had ever seen. The Tokugawa Shogunate lasted for 268 years without major conflicts in the country.
What to see at Nagoya Castle
The keep of Nagoya Castle is probably the most depicted image of Nagoya. Its white walls and metallic green roofs topped with two golden Kinshachi (mythical figures with the tail of a fish and the head of a tiger).
The current keep is a reconstruction made from concrete finished in 1959. Up until 2019, it was possible to visit the inside which had been made into a museum. Since 2019 the keep has been closed. A complete authentic reconstruction made from wood and other original materials and building techniques is planned which will take not only multiple years but also a lot of money to complete.
The absolute highlight of Nagoya Castle is the Honmaru Palace. This one-story building at the heart of Nagoya Castle used to be the residence and government building of the lord of Nagoya. It is truly splendid constructed completely from light wood with intricate carvings, wall paintings, and metal works.
The reconstruction was done following the original plans and building techniques using only authentic materials. This is what makes this building so spectacular. The Honmaru Palace was finished only recently in 2018 with the whole project taking almost 10 years.
It is also worth wandering around the grounds of Nagoya Castle where you will stumble upon multiple traditional tea houses, landscape gardens, gates, walls, and watchtowers. At the tea houses, tea ceremonies are held during special events.
If you want to find out more about tea ceremonies in Nagoya read this post.
How to get to Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle is located at the heart of the city and therefore it is incredibly easy to reach. From Nagoya Station take the subway Higashiyama Line until Sakae Station and transfer there to the Meijo Line. Get off at Shiyakusho Station. From there it is a short walk to the East Gate of Nagoya Castle. The one-way ride costs 210 yen.
Alternatively, you can take the Meguru Loop Bus, a tourist bus leading to some of the major tourist attractions in Nagoya. At Nagoya Station bus terminal, get on the bus and get off at Nagoya Castle. The one day ticket costs 500 yen.
If you want to visit Nagoya from one of the other major tourist cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto you can do that easily by using the Tokaido Shinkansen. The Bullet Train connects Tokyo with Nagoya in 1 hour and 30 minutes (11500 yen one-way). From Osaka to Nagoya it’s 50 minutes (6880 yen), and from Kyoto to Nagoya it’s only 34 minutes (6110 yen).
Visit Nagoya Castle on a guided tour
The best way to experience Nagoya Castle is on a guided tour. Volunteer tour guides will be happy to show you around the castle. The tours start daily at 13:00 at the Main Gate or East Gate of Nagoya Castle. Reservations are not required.
You can, of course, also book private one day tours of Nagoya which usually cover the main highlights of the city including Nagoya Castle, Sakae, and Osu.
Nagoya Castle opening hours
Nagoya Castle is open daily from 9:00 – 16:30. The last admission is at 16:00.
The castle is closed only during the new years’ holiday from December 29 to January 1. But on these days the castle has special events going on during which you can visit as well.
For more information check here
Nagoya Castle tickets
Adult: 500 yen
Children in junior high school and younger: free
Pay either by cash or credit card (as well as other cashless options) at the ticket counter of Nagoya Castle.
Japan has an abundance of castles throughout the country. But if you only have time to visit one, I recommend Nagoya Castle. A structure like the Honmaru Palace can only be found in Nagoya and it will be an unforgettable experience.
Bio: In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena Yamaguchi wants to share her passion with the world. Her goal is to make everyone interested in Nagoya, her adoptive home, online through her writing on Nagoya Foodie and Nagoya is not boring and offline through unique food tours.