Results 1-9of 9 Reviews
September 30, 2009
Los Angeles, California
August 26, 2007
Nijo-jo Castle was the only saving grace that I found in Kyoto. After taking the train from Kobe to Kyoto my friend, Andy, and I spent a good two hours circling the Kyoto Station in search of the tourist information center, TIC, which was suppose to be located in a building across from the station…it wasn’t. By complete chance we headed to a mall across of the station out of frustration and accidentally ran across another TIC, however this was for Japanese tourists only. We were told that the international traveler TIC would be found further up a staircase. The stairs lead us past several floors in the mall and ended up in what appeared to be a department store. A sales associate told us to follow signs that were posted to get to the TIC. The signs looped us around the store and down a hallway that appeared to have been abandoned for a while. In short we did find the TIC, but it was completely hidden and more of a hassle then anything to find. The one good thing was that we ended up with maps of the area and were pointed in the direction of Nijo-jo Castle. In front of the mall is a bus station. Here we got a ticket for bus number 9 that took us right to the castle.
Nijo-jo castle is nothing short of beautiful and its legendary Nightingale floors make it a fun place to walk around. Built in 1603 it was the home of the Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. The castle was built not only to function as his home, but also as a reminder as the shogun’s ever-increasing power over that of the Emperor. Admission is 600 yen, which is paid at the gate. This allows access to the Ninomauru Palace, which is divided into five buildings. Each building is filled with fabulous period art and spectacular screen paintings. In some of the rooms mannequins are placed in period clothing to mimic the day-to-day activities that would take place in a particular room. The interior of the palace is fitted with Nighingale floors that were to alert everyone if there was an intruder in the building. Even the lightest set on these floors will produce the sound that is loud enough to be heard throughout the corridor. Shoes are not allowed to be worn inside the castle. There is a large area with cubbies, where shoes can be placed upon entering and collected on the way out.
The buildings aren’t the only attraction on the grounds. The gardens outside rival the beauty of the art inside and the sound of the Nightingale floors. The Ninomaura Palace Garden was designed by Kobori Enshu and incorporated streams that wind through the grounds with beautifully manicured shrubs, trees, and hills. The garden itself seems to be a masterfully constructed work of art in itself.
From journal Land of the rising sun
April 2, 2007
Nijo Castle was built in the 17th century to accommodate the Tokugawa Shoguns. Today, it's still in fantastic shape and a great place to learn about Japan in feudal times.
Your first view of Nijo Castle will be the imposing moat and bright white fortifications. There's only one open entrance to this large fortress and it's on the east side, across a large bridge. First you must purchase a ticket on the outside, by using a ticket machine. Put your money in first and then select the ticket you want (600 yen for adults and less for children).
Once inside the castle, head towards the Ninomaru Palace. Be sure to remove your shoes and put on the provided slippers. This part of the castle contains beautiful screen paintings and information about how life used to be in the castle. The first thing you may notice is that the floor squeaks like a bird! These clever nightingale floors were constructed to alert the occupants to any invaders.
After visiting the buildings within the castle, you'll get to wander through the gardens. These peaceful gardens are especially beautiful when the cherry blossoms are out or during the turning of the Fall foliage.
On the way out, you'll pass many food vendors and have the option of buying souvenirs and partaking of a snack or meal.
Nijo Castle hosts various events throughout the year. The fee is usually quite small. When I visited, in early spring, the castle was open after 6pm for nighttime viewing of the cherry blossoms. There was also live koto and taiko music being played near the exit. Be sure to ask at the entrance if anything special is taking place.
From journal Kyoto's Imperial Charms
March 31, 2007
Nijo-jo (jo=Castle) was built during the 17th century by the ruling shogun (warlord) Tokugawa Ieyasu. Although the seat of the government was located in Edo (present-day Tokyo), Kyoto still remained the old capital where the powerless Imperial family lived. Nijo-jo was extravagantly built in Kyoto in a deliberate attempt to remind the Imperial family of the shogun's power and influence. I covered the grounds of Nijo-jo in about 3 hours. Nijo-jo is comprised of two separate palaces (Ninomaru and Honmaru) and their respective palace gardens, as well as other smaller gardens that are enclosed within the outer moat of the palace grounds.
Ninomaru Palace is the only original structure that dates back to the Edo period. Honmaru Palace was destroyed during a great fire back in 1750 and in 1788, and the current Honmaru structure was moved from the Kyoto Imperial Palace grounds between 1893 to 1894. Honmaru Palace is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan, and it is only open during special viewing dates. The castle's main attraction is Ninomaru Palace, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu and a designated national treasure. The palace contains 33 different rooms that are linked by countless corridors and sliding doors. The highlight of Ninomaru Palace are its intricate wall-paintings. Each room in the palace served for a specifically-ranked purpose (so the samurai, ministers, ranked officials, and the shogun conducted businesses in their respective rooms). The wall paintings in each room have different motifs (tigers, peacocks, pine trees, blossoms), in many ways representing the use and the ranking of each room. Aside from the wall paintings, the ceiling panels are also different for each palace section, depicting subtle details that helped separate the rooms.
The attention to detail is not only confined to ceiling panels wall paintings. Book-shelf doors were also delicately painted on both sides. There are also countless wooden carvings above the wall paintings that deserve attention. The palace gardens are less impressive, but nevertheless, it is a peaceful stroll. When walking away from Ninomaru Palace's garden, you will enter the Honmaru palace grounds, which is surrounded by another moat. Along its garden trail, you can climb an elevated platform on the western side to get a nice look of the surrounding moat and of Ninomaru Palace.
From journal Tales from the Old Capital - Kyoto
August 22, 2005
From journal Ancient Japan
by Shannon Schiner
August 18, 2004
The main palace is located after the Kara Mon and consists of a total of 5 buildings. The magnificence of the colorful entryway carries on into the structure with glorious decorations in 33 tatami-lined rooms. Although the building and surrounding gardens are intended more for beauty than protection, the shogun did take some interesting measures. The most obvious of these is noticed immediately upon stepping into the first hallway, a "nightingale" floor squeaks with even the lightest step.
In addition to the amazing palace, do not leave without visiting the garden. It is filled with plants that bloom at all times of the year, in addition to having a really spectacular pond.
From journal Sites of Kyoto
Los Gatos, California
November 21, 2003
When Yoshinubu, the 15th Tokugawa Shogun, returned sovereignty to the Emperor in 1867, the Castle was given to the Imperial family. In 1884 it was renamed Nijo Detached Palace and in 1939 donated to the city of Kyoto, renamed Nijo Castle (Nijo-jo) and opened to the public in 1940.
Nijo Castle, in its entirety, has been designated a historic relic. The Ninomaru Palace itself is a National Treasure, and 22 other structures, including Higashi-Ote-mon (the Eastern Main Gate) have been named Important Cultural Properties. The Ninomaru Garden has also been designated a Special Scenic Spot. On the side of the Higashi-Ote-Mon of the Castle remains a guardhouse used for the regulation of visitors. In the shogun's absence between 1634 and 1863, gate guard duty fell to the caretakers of the castle who were stationed there in alternating years, fifty persons at a time. Though the residences of the caretakers have disappeared, the guardhouse, built in 1608 remains as a rare example of their type, and has been designated an Important Cultural Property.
One of the castle's most intriguing features is its so-called "nightingale floors." To protect the shogun from real or imagined enemies, the castle was protected by a moat and stone walls. How deep the shogun's paranoia ran, however, is apparent by the installation of these special floorboards, which creaked when trod upon in the castle corridors. The nightingale floors were supplemented by hidden alcoves for bodyguards.
The total area of the castle is 275,000 square meters; 7,300 square meters are occupied by buildings.
Unlike the Imperial Palace, visitors to Nijo-jo are allowed to enter and pass through the interiors of the buildings.
From journal The Other Half of Our Dream Vacation
August 6, 2002
An interesting way to get a feel of the castle is to walk around the perimeter of the complex, and you will see the gates on each side along with the complete outer moat surrounding the grounds. Get an impression of the colorful grounds and gardens. You will enter Nijo-jo through the Kara-mon or "Chinese Gate" along the east side on Horikawa-dori. Pick up an informative and free mini-guide upon admission to the castle.
You will encounter the Ninomaru Palace, an intricately designed complex of five buildings aligned in an offset manner. The palace has 33 rooms and many chambers and covered corridors. The massive roofs are beautifully detailed and are to be admired in their own right. The interiors are colorfully decorated with carvings and screen paintings by the Kano school of artists. Your tour of the interiors (especially the Ohiroma or Great Hall) is enhanced by costumed mannequins representing the Shogun, his staff, and assorted visitors bowing to the host. The series of rooms are decorated to reflect each room's level of importance and the status of the people visiting the rooms. The outer rooms have flashier images of fierce animals to impress low-ranking individuals. The inner rooms, reserved for important lords waiting for an audience with the Shogun, are more subtly decorated with birds and landscapes. You may encounter one of the "nightingale" floors, which were originally constructed to squeak in case unwanted intruders (tourists?) were to wander along.
There is a nice lake-garden facing the Ninomaru Palace. The Honmaru Palace is the inner palace within the inner moat. It was destroyed in 1788 and replaced by a prince's residence transferred from the Kyoto Imperial Palace in 1893. This inner palace is open to the public in the fall for special exhibit.
From journal Bill in Japan - traditional KYOTO
Hong Kong, United Kingdom
May 18, 2002
Since it is free to get in for those who wear kimono, you can see quite a number of traditional costumes, mostly nice women/ girls. Some are just girls, some dating.
Nice scene anyway. Exotic!
However, there is no locker storage there and the whole area are covered with tiny irregularly shaped stones. ( I had to hand-carry my luggage as I was also on the way back to another hotel. ooops. I should have left the luggage at the lockers room under the JR station. I couldn't find 500 yen coin and I was in a hurry.)
From journal Last full day in Japan well spent