Nagoya Castle’s Shachihoko: The Golden Tiger/Killer Whale Statue
Nagoya Castle is one of the most famous in Japan, with white walls like the great Himeji-jō and a main tower beautifully reconstructed after bombings in World War II. The most famous icon of this castle is the golden statue displayed high on its roof, a mythical shachihoko: half fish and half tiger creature. However Nagoya Castle’s shachihoko (also known simply as shachi) is modelled after the body of a killer whale.
Nagoya Castle’s Golden Statue: The Shachihoko
This photo is of the south (the female), one of a pair of kin-no-shachihoko 「Golden Shachi /金の鯱」 at Nagoya Castle. Some people refer to this as “Nagoya Castle’s fish”, but the word shachi actually means killer whale. The statues are perched almost 50m up on top of the castle’s main tower.
Kin-no-shachihoko is often shortened to just kinshachi.
I used to live in Toyota city, which is very close to Nagoya. Having visited Nagoya so many times, it wasn’t until I moved away from the area that I thought about visiting the castle. Last autumn in Japan I stayed the night near Osu Kannon temple and took the opportunity to spend a morning at the castle.
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How to get to Nagoya castle (plus a traveler’s tip)
At Nagoya station, find the information center and ask to buy a day buss pass. It’s ¥500 for the day to travel on the city bus, which stops at the castle, as well as other tourist sites in Nagoya.
The buses depart from the west exit (find your way to the large lobby with a big golden clock), just follow the signs to the buses. The buses have English signs on the outside telling you which bus to catch, and while riding the bus the next stop is announced in English.