Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty Strongholds of the Samurai: Japanese Castles 250-1877

Nagoya Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Nagoya Domain

1610 - 1871

Tokugawa Clan

573,000 Koku

Nagoya Castle is classified as a flatland castle (its layout: Teikakushiki), and is located in Aichi Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Owari Province. It is associated with the Tokugawa clan. Dates in use: 1609 - 1871.

Nagoya castle was built for the dual purposes of guarding against any threat emanating from Ōsaka and also to secure a section of the Tōkaidō, the main link between the capital of Edo & Kyōto. Being established in 1612 made it one of the last major castles to be built. The founding Daimyō was Tokugawa Ieyasu's ninth son who established the Owari line of the Tokugawa clan.

The current tower dates from 1959 and was built using concrete. Despite the modern building materials used, the exterior remains faithful to the original tower. Adorning the highest points of the reconstructed tower are two dragon-headed fish known as Shachi. They are a well-known symbol of the castle and are mode from gold-plated, copper sheet. The interior houses an exhibition of items relating to its past.

Nagoya was a heavily targeted site in WWII. That being the case it's little wonder the major buildings of Nagoya castle went down in flames during the war. A handful of structures did manage to escape the bombing of WWII, those being three, three-story turrets & three gates.


1610 Construction started on Nagoya Castle by order of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
1612 The main tower & supporting turrets were completed. Construction of the castle town started. It was overseen by the lord of the Owari Domain, Tokugawa Yoshinao.
1615 The Hon-maru palace was completed.
1616 Work was completed on the first & second enclosures' defences.
1623 The Ninomaru Palace & garden were completed.
1716 The Ninomaru garden was remodelled into a dry, stroll-type garden.
1871 The castle was decommissioned.
1891 The Seinan (Hitsujisaru) Turret collapsed in an earthquake.
1945 Several buildings, including the main tower & the Hon-maru palace, were lost in WWII bombing.
1959 The main tower & main gate were reconstructed using concrete.
2009 Work commenced on the rebuilding of the Hon-mari palace. It is expected to be completed in 2017 at some staggering expense.

Historical recognition

SiteSpecial National Historic Site
Hitsujisaru (Southwest) TurretImportant Cultural Property
Tatsumi (Southeast) TurretImportant Cultural Property
Kiyosu TurretImportant Cultural Property
Omote Nino GateImportant Cultural Property
Former Ninomaru East Second GateImportant Cultural Property
Ninomaru Ōte Nino GateImportant Cultural Property