Monday, July 6, 2015


Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. After the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1867, the castle was used as an imperial palace. Today, the palace buildings are considered to be one of the best surviving examples of feudal castle architecture.

After entering the first circle of defense, one passes through the Chinese style Karamon Gate. Just beyond is the entrance to the Ninomaru palace. This palace was the residence of the Shogun while visiting Kyoto. Separate buildings within are connected via corridors with so called nightingale floors - floors that intentionally squeak as a security against intruders. 

The Ninomaru gardens are a traditional landscape garden with a large pond, ornamental stones, and manicured pine trees. The five story castle keep no longer stands, having been destroyed by fire, but one can climb its stairs and foundation for a great view of the inner circle of defense where the current Honmaru Palace now sits. This palace is not open to the public and is still used by the current Emperor.