I left my HOTEL MYSTAYS Nagoya-Sakae, walking through the futuristic sliding doors into the busy morning streets, everything new, fresh and ready to explore. I decided to check out some beautifully constructed architecture, as I believe there is nothing quite like the traditional Japanese kind. To ease my yearnings for such buildings, I took a trip to Iwasaki Castle and the majestic Nagoya Castle.
I set off jumping on the subway, smaller and less hectic than Tokyo's so I didn't feel as though I had been blindfolded, span around a couple of times and then thrust on. I loved one of the red trains on the Meiji Line, the radiance of the color reminded me of a London bus and gave me a small memory of home. However, a sense of home quickly vanished and turned more into a sense of frustration as I realized I had left my camera lens protector on a bench in Akaike Station. Luckily I only had to go one stop back and I knew it would be there when I got there. Once one of my university lecturers told me a story he had heard about Japan, where someone had left their iPod in a phone booth. It was then wrapped up in something with a message saying it was to protect it from the rain. I believe this little story sums up Japan quite well. Anyway, enough rambling and onto the castles!
Nagoya Castle is one of Nagoya’s most prized gems and it is so obvious why. It is an extremely popular spot for cherry blossom viewing but is still poignant without. It truly is an astonishing piece of architecture and is simply breathtaking. It is nice to appreciate it for a while before frantically snapping a camera at it. If you have come to Japan to travel from another country, this is the type of place you want to show people once you get home to give them a taste of Japanese splendor. The presence of the castle can easily satisfy any oriental cravings.
It is pretty hard to get a good picture of the castle close up, as it sits so high and it is hard to fit it all in frame. It sits upon a huge piece of rock like a throne of stone, in a way the castle is already a king itself and doesn't need one inside it. I say king, but coming from England I can be perhaps be let off.
The surrounding area is so vast and you could really spend a whole day at this place. The moat around it is also quite something. I saw people working on the walls pulling out weeds and plants to keep it well maintained, but it looked like hard work and they had a long way to go. Naturally though, as one of Nagoya's most prestigious landmarks, such maintenance is essential.
The entrance fee is ¥500, but it is so worth the fee and is a must see when visiting this part of Japan. It would be criminal to go to Nagoya and not visit this castle, with its hypnotic triangular shapes and color. The fee also allows you to go inside the castle and gain an insight into the history of it. There are many relics inside, including olden day pictures before the war, swords and much more.
It is very easy to find as it is right next to Shiyakusho Station. The opening hours are from 9:00 to 16:30, but entry closes at 16:00.
This was much less of a tourist spot than Nagoya Castle as it is no way near as grand, but it is still beautiful with much Japanese charm. Being less a of a tourist spot is also attractive in many ways, the main one being that you can enjoy the spot in a much more peaceful and unrushed manner. This was certainly the case with me, as I was actually the only one there and had the whole place to myself.
It is a very tranquil area and the castle is very picturesque. It may not be as famous as other castles in Japan but it is still exquisite in its own right. You can go into the castle itself and see many interesting photos. However, there is no English translation so if you don't read Japanese you will have to research the history elsewhere.
After enjoying the view and soaking up the intricate designs, I sat down on one of the many benches and looked out over this particular part of Nagoya. As the castle is situated on top of a hill, there is a nice view down of the area below.
The closest train station to Iwasaki Castle is Nisshin Station.