History of Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle was constructed on the orders of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in order to secure an important position on the Tokaido road and to ward off attacks from the direction of Osaka. Construction was completed in 1612, and the castle is typical of those built on flatlands. Until the Meiji Restoration, Nagoya Castle flourished as the castle in which the Owari lineage of the Tokugawa family, the foremost of the family’s three lineages, resided. In May 1945, during the air raids on Nagoya in the Second World War, most of the buildings including the main and small dungeons, and the Hommaru Palace, were burned down. Fortunately, however, three corner towers, three gates, and most of the paintings on the sliding doors and walls in the Hommaru Palace survived the fire, and have been handed down as Important Cultural Assets.
The best-known items associated with the Nagoya Castle are the golden dolphins, or kinshachi. It is said that the first dolphins (shachi) to adorn the main ridge of castle roofs, added when the basic construction of the castle was completed, appeared in the Muromachi Era (1334-1400) as symbol of the feudal lord’s authority. Although Nagoya’s golden dolphins shared the fate of the dungeon, being consumed by flames in the Second World War, they reappeared along with a rebuilt dungeon, in 1959, to the delight of the people of Nagoya.