Nagoya

As I mentioned in another post, my first stop of the trip was Atsuta Jingu the day I arrived to Japan. Atsuta Jingu is a big famous shrine in southern Nagoya, famous because it’s said to be home to the Kusanagi Sword, one of Japan’s three Imperial Regalia (a replica of the sword can be seen in the attached museum). Because I love mythology, this was my main reason for coming to the shrine too, but I left quickly enough because of the big crowd and little to see. I actually think it looked quite a bit like Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, especially the walk to the shrine surrounded by trees and the sound of crows.

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After trying the shrine’s famous noodles (Miya Kishimen) at a restaurant in the grounds and getting my first goshuin stamp of the trip, I decided to walk to my hostel, some 30min away, instead of taking the train.

It proved to be a good decision since I came across a nice secluded temple with some interesting hallways, saw many hydangreas still in early blooms and found the birth place of Minamoto Yoritomo. It was overall very scenic.

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Arriving to Kanayama Station the atmosphere changed completely!

The day after visiting Toyota and Okazaki, I spent a full day in Nagoya. Nagoya has a bit of a reputation of being a boring city in the ways of tourism. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt though, as every visitor has a different opinion on what places are worth visiting, but after touring the most famous sites I have to say that I kind of agree with the stereotype. I’m sure there are things worth seeing in the city, but I don’t think the places I visited were worth a special visit unless you’re in the area.

Nagoya Castle was my first stop of the day. I walked there from Nagoya Station, but I think that was a bit far away (especially in the hot sun) so I wouldn’t think of doing that again. They will tear down the main keep of Nagoya Castle later this year, so I heard, so this was actually the main reason for my visit to Nagoya, before it’s too late. A shrine before entering the castle ground was full of pretty hydangreas and some sort of cosplay/cheerleading event was going on so numerous young people were dressed up in funny outfits waiting around.

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I decided to start off with the reconstructed Ninomaru, which has many beautiful gold leaf paper screens, in case the place got crowded later on (lucky I did!). Admittedly, this was the best thing about the castle despite the noticeably newer look of the wood. As for the main tower, I took a lift to the top and then went down floor by floor. The staircase actually looked pretty cool, if they’ll be doing another concrete reconstruction I hope they do something similar.

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Castle construction technology had been extensively developed by the time Tokugawa arrived, so the castle underwent a great renovation process with help from many lords in the area. Kiyomasa stone, brought in by Kiyomasa, is the biggest stone of the walls!

The castle was very big but unfortunately didn’t use its full potential, there was plenty room for more displays and the ones that were there weren’t too impressive. I was done quite quickly. Imagawa Ujichika was who built the castle here in the 1520s, but Oda Nobuhide then seized it and settled down to live there; his son Oda Nobunaga was supposedly born there in 1534, though this is subject to debate. Nobunaga eventually moved to Kiyosu Castle and Nagoya was abandoned until Tokugawa Ieyasu came to rebuild it in 1609. The Owari Branch of the Tokugawa clan lived there up until the Meiji Period.

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The castle did have a nice little garden that most people walked right past so I had it all to myself. The main tower of the castle is very pretty from the outside though, I really like the green colour which kind of reminds me of Japan’s copper plate buildings that I love.

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Nagoya also has an interesting Tokugawa Art Museum and garden, however I didn’t go because the entrance fee was ¥1,400 and I figured I’d be going to plenty other gardens and history museums later on anyway.

After Nagoya Castle and a quick visit to Kiyosu, I made it to Sakae. Oasis 21 is a small shopping centre (there’s a Ghibli store) and the station exit opens up right in the middle of it. The roof has some sort of fountain with views of Nagoya Television Tower and you can access it at night too, it’s supposed to be more scenic then.

Nagoya has some of the best manhole covers I’ve seen and a great variety of them too.

I made a stop for some lunch at my obligatory visit to an Ichiran per trip. Much like Hiroshima, they didn’t have an English checklist either, so I circled randomly again. I had better luck this time and managed to get something less spicy.
Passing by next to the Science Museum to see the curious structure of the big planetarium, I came across a funny little detail that, strangely enough, standed out on many of my walks through Japanese cities. I’m talking about these stands that delimit construction sites, apparently there’s a trend to decorate them!

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I soon made it to Osu Kannon, a temple in the middle of the city. There’s probably some history to it that I don’t know because it seemed important, the main hall is quite big and imposing.

The Osu district overall was a dissapointment. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I thought the famous covered shopping streets were a bit tacky and the floor dirty, though there were many shops for people who like shopping. I got lost looking for Bansho-ji, a temple I’d heard about, and found a giant maneki neko at the end of the street instead.

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I headed back to my hostel, a different one closer to Nagoya station, and took a bit of a quick tour around area to see the interesting buildings. The Mode Gakuen Spiral Tower is the most noticeable, but the Lucent Tower is a bit further down and has some blue lights on at night.

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Nagoya station is so big that it has many adjoining towers, I got lost at first but eventually found the JR Central Towers with panoramic views over the city. It’s 51 floors tall but it’s not nearly the tallest and the lift went up so fast that my ears got blocked. Unfortunately there were too many light reflections on the windows that I couldn’t see the outside very properly, so I think going during the day would be best.

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The roundabout in front of the station is also a work of art!

Stopping by Seria, an 100yen store, I managed to find a rain coat for later during the trip and a bear bell for my mountain hiking adventures. Next time: Kiyosu!

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