It was Golden Week that forced me to change plans. Takayama where I wanted to stay in the mountains for a few days was completely booked and I ended up in Nagoya. Goes to show how these things can work out very well because I spent a few nice days there before making it to Takayama after all.
Nagoya is one of those cities that probably is not on many people’s screen, it certainly was not on mine, but if a smaller city next to it didn’t already have that name it could very well be called Toyota city, since the Toyota factories are in Aichi Prefecture next door and the very reason for the prosperity that Nagoya exudes. Broad avenues, grand department stores, a New York-on-a-Sunday-afternoon atmosphere in the centre of the city make it very pleasant and it has some nice sights to boot.
Built in 1612 by Ieyasu Tokugawa in order to control middle Japan and rebuff attacks from the Osaka area, Nagoya Castle flourished during the Edo period as residence of the Owari clan of the Tokugawa family until the Meiji restoration of the political power of the Emperor in 1868, the Meiji restoration, ended the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate. Like most of the city also Nagoya Castle burnt down in May 1945 and the original keep was replaced by a concrete one in 1959 when also the signature Kinshachi (golden dolphins) reappeared on the rooftop, covered in 0.15 mm 18K gold. The keep still looks very impressive and the dolphins glitter in the warm Sunday afternoon sun as the crowds are out in force when I visit the place, which, apart from the museum that tells the Tokugawa story, also has nice views over the city and the surrounding park.