Monday, November 3, 2014

Kyoto: Nijo Castle

v Nijo-jo
· UNESCO world heritage site, flat land castle.  Commissioned by Tokugawa in 1601 and finished by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1626.  Built to be the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shoguns.  Parts of Hideyoshi’s Fushimi castle (main tower and Karamon gate) were moved here.  The keep was destroyed by lightning in 1750 and never rebuilt.  In 1788 the inner castle was destroyed by fire, and later replaced with the prince’s residence in 1893.
· In 1867, part of the palace became imperial property when the Cabinet moved in.  Tokugawa’s mon was replaced with the imperial chrysanthemum mon.

· Castle equipped with “nightingale floors” which creak as alarms against assassins.  Other rooms have special doors where the shogun’s bodyguard could sneak out to protect him.
Nijo Castle is definitely one of the main tourist attractions on any visit to Kyoto, so it's kind of a wonder that we missed it the first time we went.  It doesn't really resemble the typical Japanese castle which has a 3-4 story main keep, but it was still pretty impressive even without a massive mountain or super steep stone walls.
Still has cool walls though
And awesome gates!
And mosquito moat!
You know it's a touristy spot when there'a an automated ticket machine out front!
The karamon gate "borrowed" from the previous head honcho, Hideyoshi, was very shiny!

So shiny I wonder how much of it is original?

There was no photography allowed inside the castle though, which consisted of many different rooms for the shogun to meet with various people.
Castle entrance
Unfortunately many of the original screen paintings had been removed for restoration when we visited.  The best part though were the nightingale floors! They made a very pleasant squeaking noise when you walked across them - as a safety measure against intruders.
Outside you can look underneath the floor boards, and see what's making the sound!  Small metal pieces that rub against the wood floor when it is stepped on, pretty cool!

Outside the castle is a lovely garden space, as well as a pond.

Though I can't say that Nijo-jo is my favorite castle, it is still really cool, and it's great that they left many things in their original style rather than turn it into a concrete shell of it's former self.


Your thoughts - go!