KYO: Nijojo Castle

Nijojo Castle 

The entrance of Ninomaru Goten

This can be said one of the touristic places in Kyoto, rather than hidden serene temples or shrines. However, it is worth visiting to know the era of Samurai, and I could trip just a little bit to the Edo period. The castle tour started from Ninomaru Goten, with 33 rooms. This is the main building of this castle, and I could see the waiting room for the feudal lords to see the Shogun, the meeting room for the Imperial messengers to the Shogun, the room where each feudal lord greeted the member of Shogun’s council of elders, the meeting room for the feudal lords, and the living room for the Shogun. Especially, I was impressed by the living room for the Shogun. The dolls (life size) of the Shogun and the servants were displayed so that I could imagine how the life of them was. I also enjoyed seeing each room’s sliding door which was painted beautifully. After that, I passed in front of the garden, and I reached the lookout. From one side, I could see the mountains & the city of Kyoto, but I preferred the other side, where I could see the moat of this castle. There are two types of gardens in this castle, one is the Ninomaru Garden, and the other is the Seiryuen Garden. Both are ranked in high in the magazine, “The Journal of Japanese Gardening”. However, rather than those gardens, I very much enjoyed visiting the Ninomaru Goten, to see their lives and gorgeous paintings (There said to be more than 3,000 paintings) in the Momoyama period by Kano school.

The view from the lookout
This castle was constructed in 1603, as the official residence in Kyoto of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun. It was fully built by the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu, with the addition of some structures transferred from Fishimijo Castle (built in Momoyama period, 1573-1614). Nijojo Castle tells us the finest examples of early Edo period and Momoyama culture, as it makes splendid use of early Edo period building designs, lavish paintings, and carvings that Iemitsu generously commissioned. In 1867, when Yoshinobu, the 15th Tokugawa Shogun returned sovereignty to the Emperor, the castle became the property of the Imperial family. In 1884, it was renamed the Nijo Detached Palace. It was donated to the City of Kyoto and renamed Nijojo Castle in 1939. The castle was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage since in 1994.
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When you visit here, I would like to suggest these;

-To borrow an audio guide if time permits, to get more insights.
-To climb up the lookout to feel as if you were a Shogun, looking down the moat & the gardens of this castle.
-To stop by the memorial hall to see the exhibitions of the paintings. You can approach those.