Nijo Castle was built as official home of the Tokugawa Shoguns and gives you a good insight as to how the ruling family would have lived. After the power of shogun came to an end, the palace was used as an imperial residence and later on opened as a historical landmark. If you interested in Edo period, I definitely recommend you to tour its extensive grounds and soak in the history.
It was a nice afternoon when I came across this beautiful castle filled with huge stonewalls, moats and manicured gardens. As I entered the grounds, I noticed the tourist information booth many people stopped by to rent an audio guide. I would not suggest renting it unless you are conducting a serious research because there are plenty of displays in English depicting all the details.
First, I decided to take a stroll through the main building called Nihomaru Palace. The building is beautifully preserved in a traditional Japanese style and exceptional with an interesting story on each section. Make sure you are wearing warm socks as you will have to take off your shoes at the entrance and the corridors are cool to walk on.
The walking path snaked around the rooms decorated with beautiful wall paintings. However, they are said to be replicas and the real screens are stored in the museum just around the corner. If you are wiiling to the see originals get ready to snatch 100 yen from your purse.
To tell the truth, I was slightly disappointed by the prohibition of taking pics inside the castle. However, the thing that quickly won me over was the amazing experience of walking on Nightingale wooden floors. True to its name, they did chirp like a bird! I was wondering how cumbersome it would be to wake up thirsty in the middle of night and creep to the kitchen opposite wing!
After viewing the interior of shogun palace, it was quite nice to enjoy the surroundings. A pleasant walk through the gardens took me to the objects that looked like art installations. Turned out they covered Japanese sago palms with rice straw called ‘komo’ in order to protect from the cold! The special ornament resembling umbrellas has already become the highlight of the complex’s winter scenery.
The grounds of the Nijo castle complex are picturesque and well worth to spend a half of day wandering across the adjacent gardens and moats. Don’t miss a great backyard as it offers splendid views of water and huge stonewalls surrounding the castle. I gave my legs a good workout climbing up the corner guard tower faster than coming group of tourists. I wish I could come here again in springtime to witness the cherry trees blooming.
|Location||541 Nijojo-cho, Horikawanishiiru, Nijo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto|
|Price||Adults – 600 yen
Junior highschool, highschool – 350 yen
Primary school – 200 yen
|Opening hours||8:45 – 16:00 (the castle closes at 17:00)
Ninomaru Palace is opened 9:00 – 16:00
|Access||5 minutes walk from Nijojo-mae station, also you can take bus 9, 50 and 101 at JR Kyoto station|
*Please check for the latest information before visiting.