Kinshachi head back to the roof after spending the last few months on the ground.

You’d probably guess that Nagoya Castle, standing tall in downtown Nagoya, is a symbol of the city, and you’d be right…or at least half-right. While it’s definitely Nagoya’s biggest landmark in terms of size, a number of other Japanese cities have castles too, and so the the real symbol of Nagoya is what makes its castle special: the kinshachi.

Kinshachi translates literally as “golden killer whale,” but like a number of other creatures in Japanese folklore, the shachi is a mixture of centuries-old half-observations of actual animals with the gaps filled in by mythology, and the result is something like a fish with the head and fangs of a lion.

A pair of kinshachi statues have perched on the roof of Nagoya Castle since the 14th century, when they were said to be harbingers of good fortune. Ironically, this means that the people of Nagoya don’t usually get a chance to see their city’s symbols close-up, but they had a special opportunity starting in April, as the current versions of the statues were taken down off the roof for a ground-level exhibition.

▼ Make sure you watch until the end.

The exhibition wrapped up earlier this month, though, and so it was time for the kinshachi to go back to their home atop the castle. But with one of the statutes weighing 1,215 kilograms (2,679 pounds) and the other even heavier at 1,272 kilograms (2,804 pounds), how did they get back up there?

By flying.

On Thursday morning, the kinshachi were airlifted by helicopter back to the roof, with both the Nagoya Castle official Instagram and Kinshachi exhibition Twitter accounts sharing videos.

With many of Japan’s samurai-era castle towns having grown into its largest present-day cities, skylines that mix modern and medieval architectural styles are one of the country’s uniquely appealing aesthetic aspects. It’s not every day you get to see flying machines so close to a castle, though, and with it having been 18 years since the kinshachi’s last visit down to the ground, these videos of them flying through the air feel all the more special.

Source: Instagram/nagoya_castle_japan via Japaaan
Featured image: Instagram/nagoya_castle_japan
Top image: Wikipedia/SteinsplitterBot
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he recommends Nagoya’s Kinshachi Beer.