Nagoya Castle’s concrete keep to be demolished and replaced with traditional wooden structure

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

While many Japanese cities have a castle as their most iconic symbol and biggest tourism draw, the irony is that these salutes to their samurai past are often built out of modern materials. Traditional Japanese architecture was almost entirely wooden, and castles, being military strongholds, were prime targets during warfare, so a popular tactic for attacking armies was to burn the fortresses to the ground.

That scenario continued into the 20th century, such as when the Imperial Japanese army installed a regional headquarters and administrative facility in Nagoya Castle during World War II. In May of 1945, a U.S. air raid destroyed a large portion of the castle, including its main keep. After the war, the keep was rebuilt from reinforced concrete, reopening in 1959 and continuing to attract visitors to this day.

However, after decades of wear and tear, plus a need for further earthquake-proofing, the Nagoya City Council has decided to rebuild the castle keep. Moreover, to emphasize its historical value, the rebuilt keep will be made of wood, just as the original was.

Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura initially proposed the idea last June. The required budget of 50 billion yen set off a lengthy debate, but on March 23, the city council approved the plan in a majority vote.

An exact timetable for the project has yet to be set, as the city is still in talks with contractors and construction firms. If everything progresses smoothly, though, the council hopes the new, wooden Nagoya Castle keep will be ready to start receiving visitors in 2022. Demolition of the current keep could begin as early as the fall of 2019, which would leave the city without a castle keep for two to three years.

Source: NHK News Web via Japaaan

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Demolition of the current keep could begin as early as the fall of 2019, which would leave the city without a castle keep for two to three years.

sure, what a great idea to show a castleless Nagoya to the hordes of visitors coming for the Olympics

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I haven't been in Nagoya Castle so i'm not sure what it's like but I have been in the rebuilt Hiroshima Castle and it's pretty uninspiring stuff once you're in, so i'm all for this kind of thing to add to the architectural interest in these places.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

sure, what a great idea to show a castleless Nagoya to the hordes of visitors coming for the Olympics

Because for some people Tokyo = Japan. smh

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The required budget of 50 billion yen set off a lengthy debate...

And I imagine will set off many more in the near future, as the inevitable cost increases and overruns will come to dominate proceedings for years to come.

I'm all for making historical sites more in keeping with their original design but major heritage projects rarely, if ever, run to time or budget. The primary reason for this is that there are so many hidden and unforeseen consequences of altering, or in this case rebuilding, an entire castle from scratch. Although the rebuilt keep is only 60 years old you can bet that the archaeologists will find something under all that, which will necessitate additional funds and resources.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I was shocked at first when we visited Osaka Castle and discovered it too was rebuilt with concrete after being destroyed by the war. I had spent 10 years living in the alps and within traveling distance of the beautiful Matsumoto Castle which I often painted and photographed.

But some many years later I'm alright about castle reconstructions made with concrete and nearby we do have the most beautiful Himeji Castle.

I like the plan to rebuild the Nagoya Castle from the original wood materials it makes for a better smell. After the visits to Himeji Castle I don't bother going inside anymore. My back has a hard time with those steps instead I just sit on the grass with me beer.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I dont remember enjoying Nagoya castle at all. If my memory is right that was the one with modern bathrooms and a gift shop on the first floor of the supposedly old castle. I understand reconstruction and all that, but at least try to make me feel as if I have gone back in time to the original.

Same thing for Himeji castle. I was trying to immerse myself into the history of it but just huge packs of foreigners running around yelling to each other while doing Facebook Live and all that stuff. People treating it like a mountain, trying to run up the stairs and pathways to get to the top to post an online selfie then rush back down. To each his own I guess, but that just ruined the whole vibe for me. Between that and the loudspeaker announcements every 5-10 minutes in all the Asian languages, then English, was just too much- never even a moment of silence to reflect on what I was seeing.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

A very important aspect of this Nagoya Castle project and also the restoration of the Himeji Castle in 2009 is the continued passing on of the knowledge and high skills of the so many highly specialized trades and crafts. New apprentices learn those very valuable crafts to ensure another generation to help care for the treasures of the nation.

Personally, my father's family were cabinet makers so I spent time in my father's workshop when I was a small child. He taught me his skills but a western carpenter in a day may only use less than five kinds of wood joints. A Japanese carpenter needs to know more than 150 kinds of wood joints. I wish my father had lived to see those beautiful wooden castles and temples.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

sure, what a great idea to show a castleless Nagoya to the hordes of visitors coming for the Olympics

What hordes of visitors are going to be visiting Nagoya to see the castle anyway? If a foreign visitor wants to see a castle they will go to Himeji or Matsumoto, not to Nagoya.

I've been to Nagoya Castle a couple of times. The keep is not attractive or interesting in its current form. The interior looks like the inside of a generic 1960s city ward office rather than a 17th century castle. It is wholly uninspiring. The exterior isn't particularly great either - there are numerous tell tale signs of its concrete construction and modern origin which rob it of the charm of original castles (or those built with original methods and materials).

It also suffers from being one of the few castle keeps that doesn't offer any particularly interesting or picturesque views of itself. Himeji and Matsumoto castles can be photographed from quite a few angles that make them look really attractive. Nagoya's keep just looks kind of bulky and boring no matter what side you look at it from, it doesn't sit in its surroundings very well. This isn't going to change with the restoration, but I just kind of add it as another reason foreign visitors aren't going to be missing much if the keep is unavailable while they visit.

Its also worth noting too that parts of the castle are already being rebuilt in original form, so the article framing this as something completely new is not quite accurate. The daimyo's palace building, located adjacent to the keep, has already been reconstructed using original materials and is currently the main attraction at the site.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

They will be competing with Kumamoto Castle for building materials, I would guess. Apart from the horrific cost, I agree with the sentiment of this 100%. (Nothing worse than a concrete castle with modern concrete stairs and vinyl floor coverings. Our local castle was also bombed during the war and rebuilt with modern interiors. No romance at all; I feel generally sick inside such structures.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Now that Nagoya has agreed to rebuild the present castle keep with one made of wood, like the original keep, I, too, support such a move. I have been to Nagoya Castle several times and rate it below numerous other castles I have visited throughout Japan. Just hope I am still able to do all that walking around the keep and up to the top floor when it is completed in 2022 or later ...

Enjoyed "zichi's" two castle items above ...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hope the interior of the castle is as rebuilt as the keep so that it will really feel like going back in time. Or will they have elevators and constant announcements no one pays any attention to?

I believe Kiyomizudera is popular because it hasn't been rebuilt using concrete, elevators, and the 'balcony' isn't enclosed in plastic so we tourists can enjoy the view regardless of the weather.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

what a great idea to show a castleless Nagoya to the hordes of visitors coming for the Olympics

And what's the problem? Since the Olympics are in Tokyo these hordes of castle-hungry tourists can visit Odawara castle. It's very close to Tokyo and is also concrete.

I've visited the Nagoya castle once, not the best concrete keep I've seen, they obviously overdid it with modernity. It's really very nice to know that the present structure will be replaced with a real replica. Nagoya deserves it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nagoya Castle is pretty uninspiring.

How about leave the concrete, cover it with a wooden veneer, reduce cost and have it presentable in time for any overflow of visitors in the country for the Olympics?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

How does Hikone Castle (Ii Clan) rank with regards to the other castles listed above? Just wondering.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hikone Castle, yes another good one on the side of Lake Biwa and the cherry blossom season is a great time for a visit but a bit of a train ride but one train from Kobe or Osaka about 2 hours and ¥2200 each way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am waiting for rebuilding of Kumamoto Castle. So, I understand Nagoya people's anxiety.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How does Hikone Castle (Ii Clan) rank with regards to the other castles listed above?

Hikone is a way much better then present Nagoya because Hikone is one of only twelve original castles that remain now in Japan (like Himeji and Matsumoto). Hikone is in the All-Japan Top Twelve.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I should add that the Nagoya area does have an original castle too, Inuyama Castle ( technically not in Nagoya itself but reachable through the local train system). It's small but nice.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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