Friday, September 23, 2011

Nijo Castle, Kyoto

Gate of Ninomaru Palace (Inside the Nijo Castle Wall)
With just one day for sightseeing in Kyoto, the itinerary was a hard decision.  We've both been to Kiyomizu Temple (my favorite Buddhist temple), Kinkakuji (The Golden Temple) and Gion, so we decided on Nijo Castle.

As a castle, all that you'll see is the wall and moat, but inside this castle wall is a real treasure...
Gate of Ninomaru Palace
...Ninomaru Palace, the home of the Shogun (Head of the Samurai) since 1603.
(well, 1603 until the end of the Shoguns and Samurai in 1867)
Ninomaru Palace
Take off your shoes at the genkan and step into the world of the Samurai.
The first thing I notice as I walk the ancient corridors is the sqeaky floorboards.
No, not just sqeaky floorboards, every floor board sqeaks.  No matter how softly you walk.  It's called the Nightingale Floor, and it's done for a very clever purpose.  
The shogun doesn't want silent-footed ninja from an enemy to come un-noticed.
Front Detail, Ninomaru Palace
As you listen to the chorus of nightingales, you pass various rooms, the walls covered with ancient artwork.  Each room has a different theme.  Unfortunately you can't take photos, so all I have to show you is my postcard:

The rooms of Ninomaru Palace:
  1. Yanagi-no-ma - Willow Room,
  2. Wakamatsu-no-ma - Young Pine Room  -- has ancient paintings of tigers which were done based on looking at hides, since there were no real tigers in ancient Japan.  They're quite strange-looking.
  3. Tozamurai-no-ma - The Retainers' Room
  4. Shikidai-no-ma - The Reception Room
  5. Rouchu-no-ma - The Ministers' Office Room
  6. Chokushi-no-ma - The Imperial Messenger's Room
  7. Oohiroma - The Great Hall: Consisting of three sections: Ichi-no-ma - First Grand Chamber, Ni-no-ma - Second Grand Chamber, San-no-ma - Third Grand Chamber, Yon-no-ma - Fourth Grand Chamber  --- The Great Hall is one of the highlights.
  8. Musha-kakushi-no-ma - The Bodyguards' Hidden Chamber
  9. Sotetsu-no-ma - Japanese fern-palm chamber
  10. Kuroshoin - The Inner Audience Chamber
  11. Shiroshoin - The Shogun's private living quarters --- This was quite interesting.
As you walk the set route through the corridors you'll go past each of these rooms.
Exterior of Ninomaru Palace
Garden behind Ninomaru Palace

Guard Station, just inside the gate of Nijo Castle

The wall of Ninomaru Palace
Detail of the Gate of Ninomaru Palace
Gate of Ninomaru Palace (the white spots are rain drops)

Map of Nijo Castle.  The large building in the lower half is Ninomaru Palace.
We had planned to also see Ginkakuji (The Silver Temple) today, but the rains came.

Entry to Nijo Castle is 600 yen for adults
From Kawaramachi-Shijo, Take bus number 12 (headed for Kinkakuji) and get off at Nijo-jo-mae (you'll see the big white wall and moat)
More Info on How to Get There and Planning your Trip: Here


  1. Thank you for this post! I feel like I visited this Great palace, Wish to be there for real one day^^.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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