Join us on a tour of historic Nagoya Castle, intriguing Nagoya City Science Museum, and enjoy the beautiful artistry at Noritake Garden.
Are you ready for Day 2 of Nagoya (Read Day 1 here)? On today’s tour, we’ll take you to very different experiences, from the beautiful and exquisite Nagoya Castle and Honmaru Palace, to hands-on experiments and planetarium at Nagoya City Science Museum, and finally the peaceful garden and art at Noritake Garden.
Things to Do in Nagoya – Day 2
Nagoya Castle 名古屋城
My family loves visiting Japanese castles. During our travels around Japan, we always try to visit if there is a castle in town. During our stay in Nagoya, we visited the Nagoya Castle with the family to learn about its history.
Nagoya Castle was originally built in 1609 by the powerful shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the neighboring Honmaru Palace (本丸御殿) was built in 1612. Unfortunately, most of the castle was destroyed by air raids in World War II and the current concrete replica was built by the city in 1959. Until the Meiji era, the Owari lineage of the Tokugawa family had resided in the castle.
Deep moats next to the castle wall.
Next to the castle is the Honmaru Palace (本丸御殿), currently going through a 9 year (2009-2018) complete reconstruction project. The construction is being done in 3 stages, and we visited right when the second stage was completed.
The Honmaru palace was built as the residence and government offices for the first lord of Owari Province. The reconstruction project is being completed using traditional materials and techniques.
A picture of the palace and the castle prior to them being destroyed.
The artworks and the details that went into recreating the palace were simply breathtaking.
All the work were completed based on historical pictures and archives of the original palace.
Walking through the grand palace, I imagined the lords back in the days must have had an amazing life.
After touring the palace, you then head over to Nagoya Castle.
The current castle is a rebuild made from concrete, 8 floors in total.
The creature that is associated with the castle is called Kinshachi (金鯱) – imaginary sea animal with tiger’s head and fish body.
The exhibitions on the 2nd floor included models of the castle and the city during Edo period.
A visual model of the Hommaru Palace structure.
More models of Hommaru Palace. The current rebuild is constructed on the previous palace location.
Art works that were saved prior to the fire that burnt down Nagoya Castle on display.
The 3rd floor had reproduction of castle and life in town during the 1600’s.
Fancy carriage used for carrying lords and ladies around.
The fourth floor contained armor and swords collections on display.
On the fifth floor, detailed history of Nagoya Castle, stone pull exhibit, and a full-scale replica of Kinshachi for visitors to experience and enjoy.
View of the city from the top floor observation room.
Nagoya City Science Museum 名古屋市科学館
After learning about the history of Nagoya City and Castle, let’s fast forward into the future and head to Nagoya City Science Museum. My children had an absolute blast at the museum as many exhibits are hands-on and allow them to touch and experiment.
What’s the large circle on the building? It’s the world’s biggest planetarium!
Shadow exhibit, allowing children to use different objects to cast interesting shadows and shape. The TV monitor on the right allowed the visitors to see what’s on the other side.
Human hamster wheel!
Do the flowers look like they are moving to you?
Each floor is divided into 2 sections, here is part of the 2nd floor on discovering the earth.
3rd floor exhibits on mechanics and technology.
How the rice cooker works!
Replica model of the city.
The 4th floor had exhibits on principles of nature.
Experience deep freezing lab and what life is like in the polar region (for a fee).
Live view of the deep freezing lab.
The bottom part of the sphere is an amazing area dedicated to space.
Video playing what’s it like to view earth from the international space station.
Inside the planetarium, the projector is at the center of the room. The entire show was done in Japanese and the story is not easy for foreign speakers to follow. I recommend skipping if you don’t speak Japanese fluently.
Noritake Garden ノリタケの森
It was difficult dragging our children away from the museum, however the trip must go on. After immersing ourselves with science and technology, it’s about time to enjoy some art. We visited the beautiful Noritake Garden and watched artists work on beautiful pottery and plates.
The garden is located in the center of the city, made up of a large park on the north side and the welcome center, craft center and museum, and cafe on the southern part.
The red brick buildings that were in operation from 1904 through 1975.
In the welcome center, which is free, you learn about the history of Noritake Company and its founders.
Detailed model of how the modern day kiln works.
In the craft center and museum, there is a fee to enter. In the first two floors, there are craftsmen working on projects showing you hand painting techniques in their workstations. There are painting workshops where you can paint your own designs on plates and cups.
The top two floors are the museum with beautiful collections from the past 100 years. No pictures were allowed in the building at all. It was amazing seeing the detail hand painting work the artists were creating right in front of us. If you can appreciate details and fine art, I high recommend visiting the museum. The pieces and set on display are simply marvelous, each one requiring super detailed work and creativity to make.
Collections of dinnerware you can purchase in the gift shop. I have to warn you, they are really expensive. A single cup and sauce is around 6,000 yen.
Getting around Nagoya
It was not as easy getting around Nagoya as some of the other Japanese cities we’ve been for sightseeing. There is a Nagoya Me-guru loop bus that goes to some of the popular tourist destinations; however, it does not operate on Mondays and the entire loop takes 1.5 hrs. The bus also stops running at 6:15 pm. Many of the tourist destinations require 3-4 hours to fully enjoy and waiting for the bus to come around isn’t the best use of the short time there.
We did use the Me-guru bus from the Castle to the Garden and back to Nagoya station, for the rest of our destinations we took the subway or used taxi to save time.
Have you been to Nagoya? If so, where was your favorite place that you visited? Please let me know in the comment below so I can visit next time I’m in this beautiful and intriguing city!
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