Aichi, Homeland of the SAMURAI

Nagoya Castle Honmaru Palace

Located in the middle of Japan, Aichi Prefecture was at the center of the Sengoku, or Warring States period. It’s where many important samurai battles took place, and where many samurai heroes, including the nations’ Three Unifiers, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu were born. About 70% of the nation’ ruling Daimyo war-lords of the early Edo Period (1603-1868) came from the Aichi area!

This area is a mostly flat region, perfect for growing rice, (ie, growing money) with a rich fishing coast to the south, irrigated by three rivers and a major highway hub, and so for that reason, it was a land dotted with castles,….in fact there are over 3,600 castles and castle sites in Aichi alone!

From the Japan’s largest castle keep, the magnificent Nagoya Castle, and the National Treasure listed Inuyama Castle to the small, sturdy Yamashiro type castles of Asuke and Damine, there is something to interest the castle beginner and the expert in Aichi.

Nagoya Castle Honmaru Palace
Nagoya Castle and Nagoya Castle Honmaru Palace, NagoyaⒸNagoya Castle General Administrator Office

One of the grandest, most imposing and best-designed castles built during the early 1600’s Golden Age of castle construction, Nagoya Castle was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu around 1612 to protect eastern Japan from attack by the western provinces, and became the starting point for the Siege of Osaka. During the 260 years of Tokugawa rule, it was Central Japan’s symbol of authority and peace.

Tokugawa Museum, …See SAMURAI

Tokugawa Art Museum
Tokugawa Art Museum

A must see for all tourists! Located in what was once was the retirement villa of the Lords of Owari, this important facility houses a magnificent and meticulously maintained collection of over 12,000 hereditary heirlooms of the Owari Tokugawa clan, lords of Nagoya Castle. Among the most valued items are the National Treasure listed, and rarely displayed, Genji Monogatari Emaki, three Heian Period hand-painted scrolls depicting the famous Tale of Genji, dating from the 1130s.

Nagoya’s Omotenashi Busho-tai / Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hattori Hanzo Ninja Team, …Meet SAMURAI

Nagoya’s Omotenashi Busho Tai samurai, and the Hattori Hanzo Ninja team can be found wandering the grounds of Nagoya Castle daily, followed by hoards of admirers, interacting with the visitors, posing for photographs and at times banding together to perform sword fighting feats, and entertaining talks. Feel free to approach them at Nagoya Castle and get an opportunity to meet a living historical figure. Surprisingly, Tokugawa Ieyasu in particular speaks quite good English!

Kiyosu Castle, …Become a SAMURAI

Become a Registered International Samurai At Kiyosu Castle!
Alongside the Kiyosu Castle keep, in the Kuroki Shoin Hall, are sets of armor hand crafted by the Kiyosu Armor Workshop. Visitors can wear samurai armor or the gorgeous women’s kimono of a Sengoku period princess, and walk the grounds and halls of Kiyosu Castle. Take pictures of yourself in front of the imposing keep in full samurai armor, and register to become an International Samurai and receive a printed certificate!

The Battle of Nagashino, Shinshiro
The Battle of Nagashino, Shinshiro
The Treasures of Inuyama

Only 12 original castles remain in original condition across Japan. Of those 12, only five are allocated National Treasure status. The smallest, and oldest of these is Inuyama Castle, dating from around 1440, although the current structure dates from almost a century later.
The keep itself looks small compared to other castles. Its stone walls stand just five meters in height, and the tower itself 19 meters on top of that. Floor space is around 699 square meters, which was normal for a keep of those days. You have to remove your shoes to enter the keep, but once inside, the wooden floor boards and naked timber pillars speak volumes. Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and a host of famous historical samurai figures have trodden these floors. Inuyama Castle is a fine example of 16th Century samurai castle architecture, a National Treasure, where you’re sure to make some treasured memories of your time in Japan.

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