Visiting castle towns

The second stop during our Christmas holidays road trip was a visit to Nagoya (25th of December) and Inuyama (26th of December). Our hotel for both days was located in Nagoya and we did a day trip to Inuyama. While Nagoya is a very busy and modern city, Inuyama still has an ‘old feeling’ to it. This can be seen and felt when you’re walking through the cities.

Nagoya is not all about modern day architecture though. It has a beautiful reconstruction of the castle that used to stand in the city. This was our first stop: Nagoya castle!

Nagoya castle

This castle was one of the largest castles in Japan and because of that, the castle town that’s called Nagoya grew to become Japan’s 4th largest city. During World War II, most of the building of the castle were destroyed, including the large castle keep. The keep has been completely reconstructed and other parts of the castle, like the castle palace, are still being reconstructed.

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Reconstructed tower on the walls surrounding Nagoya castle

If you want to enter the palace, called Hommaru Palace, you have to remove your shoes (of course) and leave your large bags inside of lockers to make sure that you won’t destroy anything in the palace. When we visited the castle, there were lots and lots of people who had the same idea, so it was quite busy. Inside of Hommaru palace, that is being reconstructed at the moment, a beautiful exposition can be seen with lots of flowers, plates and lights. The reconstruction of the palace will be completed in 2018.

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Detail of exhibition

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Detail of exhibition

The inside of the palace itself is also richly decorated with beautiful drawings on the walls and doors. The palace itself is made out of wood, which also adds more ‘feeling’ to the impressive palace. On the walls and doors, paintings of animals, trees and plants can be seen.

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Rooms in reconstructed castle palace

And when we were there, lots of flowers and plants were also placed inside of the rooms as an exhibition, which created an even longer lasting memory of the beautiful palace.

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Exhibition in castle palace

After the tour in the Hommaru palace, we walked outside to see the castle keep. Even though it is only a reconstruction, it still looks impressive from the outside!

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Nagoya castle

We already saw some people dressed in samurai clothes walking around the castle and telling people that there would be some sort of show, so after the tour inside of Hommaru palace and seeing the outside of the castle keep, we went to see the show. There were 5 Japanese people dressed up like samurai and they gave the audience quite a nice show, with dances and weapons. The story was in Japanese, so again, we were not quite sure what it was about.

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Show with Nagoya castle in the background

After seeing most of the show, we decided to go to the castle keep as quickly as possible to try to beat the audience into going inside of the castle. And we succeeded a little bit, since it was still busy in the castle. A large exhibition about the castle could be seen inside and you can compare it to a museum about the history of Nagoya castle.

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View from Nagoya castle

Midland Square Observatory

After Nagoya castle, we went to Midland Square, where we were able to enter the observation deck. When we went up, it was already getting dark, so the you could see the lights turning on everywhere in the city. You could even see Nagoya castle covered in lights.

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View from Midland Square Observatory (Can you spot Nagoya castle?)

Dinner

After these views, we went back to our hotel to dump all of our backpacks and then we headed out for dinner. And wow, I’ve never had a bowl of ramen that was this delicious! It was a very small restaurant and unfortunately I don’t remember the name. But I’ll never forget this wonderful dish!

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Ramen

Inuyama castle

The next day, we got up early to go to Inuyama. Compared to Nagoya, Inuyama looks way older. It is the home of Inuyama castle, which is a castle that has not been reconstructed, but that has been there and survived all wars and disasters over the years. This is really impressive, if you think about the construction materials: the castle is made out of wood!

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Dragon

Underneath the stairs that lead up to the castle itself, you can see a dragon (of course) spitting out a small beam of water. According to the rituals, you can wash your hands there with that water and drink some of it.

When arriving to the castle complex, the next things that greeted us were these red gates. The gates were leading up the stairs to the actual castle.

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Stairs and gates to Inuyama castle

Even though these gates are not as impressive as the ones in Kyoto, they are still pretty!

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Gates

And then, finally, after walking quite some stairs, we could see the castle! From the outside, the castle looks like the other castles that we already visited, maybe a little bit more damaged,  but not very noticeable.

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Inuyama castle

Compared to the insides of other castles that we visited, the inside of Inuyama castle was completely different! This was still the old layout (with some museum pieces in the castle), which means really steep stairs with high steps. These steps were already quite high for me (around average height in the Netherlands), but I’m a lot taller than most Japanese women and even taller than some of the men, which means that I don’t understand how they got up these stairs in the past!

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Inside Inuyama castle

Inside of the castle, we found the same castle again! Only this time as a smaller model made out of wood. But it was still very pretty to see!

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Model of Inuyama castle

And the special thing about this castle was, that you could walk outside at the top of the castle! The top room in the castle was surrounded by a small balcony that went around the entire room. This meant that you were able to walk around the top of the castle and enjoy the views of the surrounding village!

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View from Inuyama castle

You could even see the Kiso river, located next to the castle, and the large bridge across the river.

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View from Inuyama castle

After seeing the beauty of this castle, we decided that we would walk to the other side of the town to see a temple. While we were searching for this large temple, we stumbled upon some other smaller shrines where we could see the castle again in the distance!

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Inuyama castle

Daihonzan Naritasan Nagoya Betuin Daishoji Temple

This temple was the last stop of our visit to Inuyama. You start at the bottom of the temple complex and have to walk up quite some stairs to finally arrive at the main temple and at the beautiful views.

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Entrance to the temple

The higher you got, the more buildings, statues and nature (lots of trees and plants) you could see. And more stairs of course. Very important! Because of the amount of stairs, a group of boys in sporting clothes showed up when we were there. Their coach lets them run up the stairs as an exercise!

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Building of the temple complex

The stairs that go to the main temple are nicely decorated with statues and text.

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Stairs of temple complex

Inside of the main temple, a ceremony was being held. In front of the main building, there was a small place to burn incense. And the views from the top were absolutely stunning!

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Main temple

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Bell of temple complex

We saw on Google Maps that there was a monkey park near the temple complex as well. So we wanted to end our visit with this park. Unfortunately, the park was not really a monkey park, where you would be able to see monkeys, but it was a theme park for small children. Better luck next time haha!

Visited on the 25th and 26th of December, 2016
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