Planning on a trip to Nagoya? We have selected the five best cultural sights in Nagoya, a mix of temples, castles, and a famous nature spot surrounded by countryside, foliage, mountains, and lakes. Read on for sacred treasure, fireworks, and where to watch some traditional Japanese dancing:
Osu Kannon Temple
(image by flickr.com)
Osu Kannon is a well-liked temple that was moved by Ieyasu Tokugawa. The main hall had been burned down in the war, but was rebuilt in 1960. The temple is also famous for events in the local shopping district. For starters, on the 18th and 28th of every month, flea markets are held on the lucky days (ennichi) for visiting the temple. Pictures and kimono, old books and coins, tin toys and old anime are lined up to evoke that feeling of the good ol’ days. Amazake, which is said to prolong life, is given out free on a first-come first-serve basis on the 18th. Every August, the Nippon Domannaka (Dead Center) Festival is held throughout Nagoya which is in the dead center of Japan, and that also includes Osu Kannon Temple. 200 teams and 23000 people from Japan and overseas express regional cultures through dance. You can’t keep your eyes off the spectacular costumes and the dynamic dancing. With the concept of everyone participating, the Sou Odori (all dance) which invites spectators to join in is impressive. It was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 as “The No. 1 Festival Dance”.
The Osu Street Performers Festival is the first street performing event in Japan which is held annually in October in the Osu Shopping District. Naturally, a street performers’ show where people can get close to the performers is an attractive point and the main event is the oiran procession. The occupation of the oiran (courtesan) was to entertain guests during the Edo Era. Women selected through open auditions transform into spectacular oiran and walk down through the streets of Osu. The World Cosplay Summit is held in conjunction with the Osu Summer Festival. The Osu Shopping District has so many shops related to anime and games that it has been called the Akihabara of Nagoya. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism recognizes the summit as a part of its “Visit Japan Campaign”, and it and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provide assistance. Held every summer, it garners world interest. Cosplayers who win in preliminary rounds in their own nations come to the summit, and a championship to decide on the best along with a parade are held.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Osu Kannon Temple
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Osu Kannon Temple
- Tours of Osu Kannon Temple
(image by flickr.com)
A castle whose memories of historical figures can be realistically thought about up to now is uncommon. The differences in the reconstruction of some buildings is evident. By no means is it a big castle, but we would like you to come and visit a place that has plenty of memories of the lifestyle of warring commanders. Visiting this castle, you can feel the plans and zeal of the warriors who continued to protect it and also get to know the making of this Sengoku Era castle. A Sengoku Era castle was designed so that it was difficult for enemies to breach. The path that went past the front gate twists so a straight path to the castle wasn’t possible. It was also built on a hill to make attack difficult, but climbing the stone-paved slope for a while can get you access into the castle.
Enter the castle after taking off your shoes. The actual entrance is in the basement, and part of the stone wall is uncovered. The ladder-like stairs are very steep. Along with watching your step, it is also necessary to be careful not to bump your head on the low beams running among the pillars. This was also in consideration of preventing a full attack during an enemy invasion. In addition, there are also ishi-otoshi windows from which to drop stones, tsuke-yagura attached towers to attack from the flank, hidden rooms for soldiers and other Sengoku Era tactics against enemy forces. Currently, there are suits of armor, folding screens and other exhibits on display which are very popular.
The highest floor has a 360-degree view. Called the mawari-en, the corridor that encircles the floor is outside the castle which is unusual. Because the wood would rot if snow piled up, construction on cold ground was impossible. At the very least, the wonderful view can make one feel fully like the master of the castle. The surrounding edge goes no higher than one’s knees so it’s not even as tall as a shelf which means there is a thrilling aspect.
There is one good point behind the reason for Inuyama Castle avoiding destruction. Whenever it was known that a strong enemy was on the way, there was a quick surrender and no resistance. At any rate, the existence of a castle built over 400 years ago is a valuable experience.
Admission: Adult:¥ 550 / Child: ¥ 110
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Inuyama Castle
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Inuyama Castle
- Tours of Inuyama Castle
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
Korankei is located in Asuke-cho, Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture. Asuke-cho is an appealing town of traditional and historical heritage and Mother Nature as “a district of history, tradition and creation”. Korankei is a valley in that area where you can enjoy that nature. In 1634, maple and cedar trees were planted along the path heading towards Kojaku-ji Temple in the same valley and with features such as a walking path being built, the current Korankei came into being. The vermilion Taigetsukyo Bridge is a symbol of Korankei and the area is popular with tourists for its splendid nature throughout the four seasons. The different expressions of the seasons can be displayed: the countryside flora of spring, the lush green of summer, the fall foliage and the scene of winter. Korankei is attractive for its wide display of Mother Nature, but the most popular time is the autumn. The scene of approximately 4000 maple trees turning gold and red beautifully covering the entire valley is incredible. The autumn colors can be seen from early November and the area is lit up at night between sunset and 9 p.m. At the same time, the Korankei Maple Festival is held and the leaves are at their best until early December. Also from late March, the dogtooth violet are in full bloom. On good days, how about taking a stroll while seeing these sprite-like early spring violet blossoms?
In the area surrounding Korankei, there are still plenty of sightseeing spots for nature and historical architecture. The beginnings of the streets of Asuke-cho were started during the Sengoku Era, and in the Edo Era, the town took on its current shape. Asuke-cho’s townhouses were applied with plaster to prevent destruction by fire. It’s interesting to sightsee around the streets with that feeling of the Edo Era and the historic buildings such as Asuke Castle. Also, it’s wonderful to get that full feeling of nature through sites such as Kojaku-ji Temple which is famous for its maples and Mt. Kannon which has been called the second Korankei.
Admission: ¥ 500
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Korankei
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Korankei
- Tours of Korankei
(image by flickr.com)
At the center of Nagoya Castle is its tenshukaku or castle tower which was rebuilt in 1959. The surrounding remains of the castle were made into Meijou Park. At present, the Honmaru palace is continuing restoration. A third of the construction costs, about 5 billion yen, comes from donations from Nagoya citizens. Local residents’ passion is linked into the restoration of Nagoya Castle. Along with the tenshukaku, Honmaru is the most important part of Nagoya Castle. For that part, the front hall and the omotesho-in parlor (a parlor constructed at the front of a building) are open to the public. The front hall is called the Tiger Room, and is the official entrance for visitors who can also use it as a waiting area. On the walls and sliding doors, there are tigers and leopards illustrated to express courage. The omotesho-in was used for the feudal lord and his servants to meet. There are paintings of flowers and birds in the rooms, and there is a profound air. They were the meeting places for the lord and his family as well as venues for dinners. It’s also said that the very first lord had had his wedding ceremony held there. Illustrations of the year-round events are famous.
The castle was enlarged after the unification of the nation for lords on the way to the capital. Gorgeous sculptures and metal fittings were added to the Shogun’s chambers, and even within Honmaru Palace, it was the most elegant area. Elsewhere, there are bathrooms and the Kuroki Sho-in which was reputed to be the lodgings for Ieyasu Tokugawa currently scheduled for restoration. Efforts are being made with the citizenry for the care and maintenance of the excellent scenery of Ninomaru Garden, called a place of scenic beauty, a new place for exchange in the area surrounding Nagoya Castle and the reconstruction of the shachihoko golden dolphins. After completion, it will become a huge location for history and culture in the Chubu area.
Admission: ¥ 500
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Nagoya Castle
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nagoya Castle
- Tours of Nagoya Castle
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
Atsuta Shrine, located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, was established in the year 113, and reaching its 1900th anniversary in 2013, a commemorative festival was held. At the shrine that has been affectionately called Atsuta-san by Nagoyans, more than 6.5 million visitors come every year. Not only local citizens but members of the Imperial Household and shoguns have also worshiped at the shrine, and it is also known as the most prestigious shrine next to Ise Shrine. The reason for this is that it is famous for enshrining the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, the sword that is one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan (mirror, jewel, sword) which were given by the gods in Japanese mythology. Including a National Treasure and Important Cultural Properties, it is one of the over 6000 artifacts that are housed within the shrine. Atsuta Shrine has a Bunkaden treasure hall in which permanent and special exhibitions are held on the 1st floor. Selected treasures are displayed monthly. On the 2nd floor of the Bunkaden is the Atsuta Library where Shinto writings are exhibited. The atmosphere at this foliage-rich shrine itself is also recommended. Within the 200,000 m² grounds of the shrine, there are camphor trees planted which are more than a millennium old. Just strolling through this tranquil atmosphere is cleansing for the heart. Atsuta Shrine is a popular tourist destination as a refuge of nature.
The Atsuta Festival held on June 5th is the largest celebration held at the shrine among the many festivals there. Beginning with the dedication of makiwara lanterns, it is a grand festival that marks the arrival of summer in Nagoya with 1000 fireworks. You can freely enjoy a Japanese summer festival through the taiko drums and mikoshi and the stalls lined up on the path heading toward the shrine. There are various festivals so please check the homepage for the festival that you would like to visit.