Osu Kannon and other historic sites in Nagoya

The capital of the Aichi region, Nagoya is Japan's fourth-largest city after Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka. Nagoya is famous for its great industrial centers, though it is often overlooked by tourists. However, Nagoya is home to many historical sites, including Osu Kannon, Nagoya Castle, the Tokugawa art museum and Atsuta Shrines. In addition, there is a number of hotels, comfortable for the tourist accommodation, and Nagoya is easily accessible both from Tokyo and Osaka.

In the seventh century Nagoya was one of the major stops along the Eastern Sea Road, connecting Kyoto (Japan's ancient capital) and Edo Tokyo, Japan's capital during the Tokugawa regime. Thus, the geographical position of Nagoya influenced much on its cultural and industrial development, making it the center of industries that were brought from various corners of Japan and other countries, while the shoguns and emperors, who traveled to and from Kyoto for centuries, built beautiful castles for their comfortable stays in Nagoya. Several magnificent castles and temples preserved from those days and museums of the ancient art and culture comprise a historical treasure of modern Nagoya.

Osu Kannon, located south from the Fushimi station in the center of downtown Nagoya, is the place where the new and old meet. The Osu Kannon Temple is a Buddhist temple, dedicated to Kannon, the Deity of Mercy. The Osu Kannon Temple was built in neighboring Gifu prefecture during the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and relocated to Nagoya in 1612 by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Today, the Osu Kannon Temple makes a colorful complex of a historically significant castle and Osu shopping area. There is an antique market from the 18th to 28th of each month. The Osu Shopping Arcade features a number of discount shops, stores, selling everything from old kimonos and antiques to imported foods and electronics. The arcade ends at Banshoji, another of Nagoya's historic temples.

Another significant historic site in Nagoya is the Nagoya Castle that is also one of Japan's best examples of the feudal castle architecture. Tokugawa Ieyasu built the castle in 1612 as a military fortress, when the feudal lord was engaged in creating a centralized government. The Nagoya castle was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in 1959. One of its peculiar features is a pair of golden 'shachi' (a mythical creature, resembling a dolphin) statues, which adorn both ends of the castle's peaked roof.

The Tokugawa Art Museum is a very treasured site for both: the Japanese and the city visitors, interested in the samurai history. The Museum stands on the grounds of a former mansion, owned by the Owari branch of the Tokugawa family and still keeps the original entry gate and a guardhouse. The museum houses thousands of significant documents, samurai armor, swords, matchlocks, helmets, pottery, lacquer ware, Noh costumes and masks, and paintings that belonged to the Tokugawa family, including the objects, inherited from the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. There are also replicas of structures and items that once adorned the Nagoya Castle, containing decorative alcoves, a teahouse and a Noh stage. The museum's most famous exhibit is the 12th-century picture scrolls of The Tale of Genji (Genji Emaki), though the museum displays the scrolls only one week a year in autumn. A beautiful Japanese garden surrounds the museum. The museum tours are provided with English explanations of the historical context of the exhibits.

For those, looking for a place to stay, Fushimi, a business and nightlife center is home to The Nagoya Kanko Hotel and the Hilton Nagoya, two of Nagoya's most popular and conveniently located hotels. The both feature excellent restaurants and bars.

Although not popular, Nagoya can give the tourist a great surprise of fun and entertainment, when traveling to Japan.

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