Keihanshin (京阪神) Episode 18: Nijō Castle (二条城)

After completed my visit at Ryoanji, I continue my tour by bus and heading south to another UNESCO World Heritage — Nijō Castle (二条城). The castle was originally built in 1603 as the official Kyoto residence of the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu. It was completed in 1626 by the third Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu, with the addition of some structure transferred from Fushimi Castle.

In 1867m when Yoshinobu, the fifteenth Tokugawa Shogun returned sovereignty to the Emperor, the castle became the property of the Imperial family. In 1884, it was renamed the Nijō Detached Palace. It was donated to the City of Kyoto and renamed Nijō Castle (Nijo-jo) in 1939.

This is the only entrance to enter to the Ninomaru Palace (二の丸). However, back then, those visitors or VIP taking the oxcart will be alighting here. So there is a shelter above from sunlight and rainfall. Thus this place is called 車寄 (Kurumayose).

The building is one of the fine example of early Edo period and Momoyama culture in Japan, as it makes splendid use of early Edo period building design, lavish painting and carvings that Iemitsu generously commissioned.

The carving is spectacular and full of meticulous details.

Unfortunately, photography is prohibited inside the building. One interesting to highlight inside the palace, when you walking over the floor inside, the floor will squeak. This type of floor is called Nightingale floor. This type of mechanism is to aware of any intruders coming in.

The two giant bells used to make emergency announcement but is now placed in front ht palace for visitor to take photograph.

Another view at the back of the palace.

The Ninomaru Garden, is a large scale garden called Shoin-zukuri style. In the centerof the pond stands one large island (representing Horai-jima: The Island of Eternal Happiness) flanked by two smaller island (representing Tsuru-jima, Crane Island; and Kame-jima, Turtle Island). The original garden is said to have been the creation of Kobori Enshu, a master garden designer.

The route leading to the remains of Tenshu (天守閣), the central tower or main keep of a Japanese castle.

The tower was built in 1626, but was burned down by a lightning strikes in 1750. Today, it only left a raised platform and 4 long benches.

However, the height of the platform allowed me to have a higher view of the surrounding.

From the platform, you can spot the Moutain of Daimonji (大文字).

A pathway in the middle of two giant walls with huge stone piled up one on top of another.

There is also a Karesanshui, but a smaller scale one, along the pathway in Nijo Castle.

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A restoration was going on and I admired their effort in keeping the historical site in tip-top condition.

Information:

Nearest subway: Nijojomae Station (二条城前駅).

Hours: 8:45 to 17:00 (entry until 16:00)

Closed: Tuesdays in Jan, Jul, Aug and Dec (or following Wed if Tue is a national holiday)December 26 to January 4

Admission: 600 Yen

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