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nijo castle

the construction of nijo castle (二条城) in kyoto was ordered by tokugawa ieyasu, the founder of the tokugawa shogunate.  this world heritage site was built with the purpose of being the kyoto residence of the tokugawa shoguns, it was completed in 1626 and was in use by the shogunate until 1867.  it was on this year when tokugawa yoshinobu, the 15th shogun, returned authority to the imperial court, thus putting an end to the shogunate system.  the imperial court took control of nijo castle, but then donated it to the city of kyoto in 1939.

this is one of my favorite world heritage sites in japan.  i just wish i was allowed to take photographs inside the castle to show you some of the truly amazing paintings and unique wood work.  admission is 1,000 yen, but it is work every yen.  when you first enter the palace you will hear beautiful sounds emanating from the floor as you take each step.  this is called a nightingale floor (uguisu-bari) and it was used to warn guards of unwelcome guests.  you will get to see the entire ninomaru palace, including its emotionally-moving wall and sliding door paintings.  most of these amazing paintings are of nature, and usually include birds of some type.  they are unique designs; simple, but beautiful.  i’ve never experienced anything like it.  if i had to be contained within this palace as a shogun, by sitting in one of these rooms i would see a nice view of nature and the outside world that i could enjoy.  i can best describe it as the same feeling you get when you see a beautiful scenery from a mountain top.  though the paintings themselves are not realistic per say, you will have that same feeling.  i was very surprised by the paintings’ effect.

the shogun’s living quarters are painted quite different than the rest of the palace.  the scenery is of mountain tops fading into emptiness in a misty scenery.  they are painted in monochrome black instead color like the other rooms.  i’m not sure why, but perhaps it is to relax and set a more gentle state of mind through a tranquil scenery.

what i also found interesting is that all the walls in the rooms are covered in paintings.  so if you were to sit inside the room and close the sliding doors, you will be submerged in a 360 degree scenery.  pretty dang cool.  :)

also, near the end of your walk through the castle grounds you will see a place where several kimonos are on display.  admission is free as well as an english pamphlet that describes the process of making kimonos.

to visit nijo castle you can take the train to nijo station (二条駅), or the metro to nijo castle station (二条城前駅), which is closer.  bus 9 from the kyoto station will get you there as well.  since nijo castle is centrally located, consider a taxi if there are two or more of you.

my favorite photos of the day:

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outer moat and walls.

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karamon (唐門) main gate and outside of palace.

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ninomaru garden.

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honmaru, the area surrounded by the inner moat.  it is where the shogun and his retainers lived.

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seiryu garden and the tea house

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my video of the day ;)

location of the castle in central kyoto:

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further information:

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