京のキー Golden dolphins

Golden dolphins

Once you have worked your way up the keep of Himeji's Castle there is really nothing else that compares. Not knowing Nagoya, the castle seemed a good place to start and so we strolled through the expansive grounds to the post-WWII replica. Biting my tongue, we took the elevator up and I enjoyed the views though really wanted to scream from the roof 'It is not real! It is a theme park ride!' I enjoyed the peace of the castle, if only to see Rhod ride a golden dolphin. I did not enjoy dropping and breaking our camera. Nagoya was going to be an expensive day out.

Imagawa Ujichika built the original castle around 1525. Oda Nobuhide took it from Imagawa Ujitoyo in 1532, but later abandoned it.

In 1610, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the various daimyo to help with the building of a new castle on the site. This new castle was to be the defining landmark of the relocated capital of the existing Owari Province and many of the materials used were sourced from the smaller Kiyosu Castle, including Kiyosu castle's tenshu, which was located in the existing provincial capital of Kiyosu. Nagoya castle's construction was completed in 1612.

During the Edo period, Nagoya Castle was the center of one of the most important castle towns -Nagoya-juku- in Japan and the most important stop along the Minoji that linked the Tokaido Road with the Nakasendo.

Until the Meiji Era, the castle was the home of the Owari Tokugawa clan of the Tokugawa family. It was destroyed by fire in World War II, but the donjon has been rebuilt since.

During World War II, the castle was used as the District Army Headquarters and as a POW camp. During the bombing of Japan, the castle was burnt down in a USAF air raid on May 14, 1945. Due to the destruction caused by the air raid, most of the castle's artifacts were destroyed; many of the paintings inside, however, survived and have been preserved to this day. The rebuilding of the donjon finished in 1959. Today the donjon is a modern concrete building with airconditioning and elevators. In addition, there are plans to reconstruct the Hommaru Palace, which was also lost to fire during the war. Many of the paintings from this palace were also rescued, and replicas of these paintings will be placed in their appropriate locations within the restored palace. Until then, many of the objects formerly in the Hommaru as well as replicas of sliding shoji doors and the reconstructed Noh stage can be seen in the Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya.

On top of the castle are two golden tiger-headed dolphins, called kinshachi. This motif is used as a talisman for fire prevention. They are said to be a symbol of the feudal lord's authority. Both kinshachi were temporarily lowered from atop the castle and displayed on the castle grounds, and briefly at the site of the Expo 2005 from March 19 to June 19, 2005, and were restored to the castle on July 9th the same year. With sclaes of real gold, they were at one time completely stripped by theives and have been stolen in their long and fraught life.

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Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.

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