Did you know that Nagoya Castle was the single best preserved castle in Japan, to the point that there was a massive architectural study done of it? Technical drawings and measurements, were made of every nook, cranny, and detail big and small of the outside and inside of the main keep and palaces around it.
While the study was happening, the entire castle, including the main keep and Honmaru Palace, was destroyed by firebombing in 1945. The current keep is a Kinkos copy of the old one, rebuilt out of concrete. It’s a nice effort, but to be honest it is what it sounds like: a hollow imitation of the original.
The aforementioned architectural study proved to be prescient because it provided a blueprint for rebuilding Nagoya Castle just the way it was, using traditional materials and methods. Plans were put into action and construction on the Honmaru Palace started in 2010 and is finally complete now.
We went the day it opened, and demoliton had already begun on the concrete main keep, which is scheduled to open in 2022. So, for the time being, the Honmaru Palace will be the main attraction of Nagoya Castle.
I’m definitely not implying that is a bad thing: The palace is breathtaking. The smell – it smells like the wood used in its construction, which I guess is the equivalent of “new car smell” for new old Japanese buildings. The sights – there is gold everywhere. The building feels new and old at the same time. The new feeling was actually really interesting for me. I felt like I was standing in a real, living, place rather than a remnant or preservation of the past.
The art is fantastic. Look up or down, left or right, and there is an expertly carved, painted, or sculpted detail. It’s an obvious labor of love. Nothing looks tacky or out of place – it’s all the real deal.
Finally Nagoya has a unique tourist attraction to be proud of! At first I was apprehensive, but that feeling didn’t last long – the art, ambience, and craftmanship of the Honmaru Palace gave me an immense hunger for MORE! Bring on the main keep!
Scans of the blueprints of Nagoya Castle can be viewed here: