December 1, 2013

Kyoto : Nijo Castle

Back from Arashiyama, I still have some time left before leaving for Osaka in the evening.

So I decided to visit Nijo-jo. I was contemplating whether or not to buy the Kyoto City Bus One-day pass as most probably I'd use it only twice, to and fro Nijo-jo. Rugi weiii. haha.. But in the end, my inner voice told me I should just buy the pass.

So I hopped on Raku Bus #101 to Nijo-jo. The ride took about 15 minutes. The castle is right across the main road so you won't have any trouble finding it.

Higashi-Ote-mon, the entrance to the castle

The castle was built in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was the first shogun in the Edo period. It was later expanded to the current scale by his grandson, who was also the third shogun. Like most buildings in Kyoto, the castle was destroyed by fire and the present day building is a reconstruction of the original structure.

The castle is divided into three areas; the Honmaru, the Ninomaru, and some gardens that encircle the Honmaru and Ninomaru. On top of that, the entire castle grounds and the Honmaru are surrounded by stone walls and moats. These are the fortifications of the castle.

Ninomaru Palace

The Ninomaru Palace consists of multiple buildings that are connected to each other. It served as the residence, as well as reception chambers and offices. One of the most prominent features of this palace is the nightingale floors in the corridors. These floors squeak when stepped upon as a security measure against intruders.

Visitors walk through a designated route that takes you round the palace to see all the rooms and chambers. Photography are not allowed inside the palace but as usual, I was a rebel. *guilty*

The rooms are covered in tatami mat, and the ceilings, walls and doors are all covered with beautiful paintings.

After the tour around the building, I headed to the garden. It's quite nice. There weren't many visitors around. Perhaps the crowd came in the morning.

side view of Ninomaru Palace

not sure what is this

Next is the Honmaru Palace. As you can see, I had to go through another gate and bridge as the Honmaru is surrounded by stone walls and moats as a second fortification.

the moat

It's a pity that the palace is closed for visitors. I wish I could see more.

Luckily I could climb up to the walls here.

So I did get to see more, just in a different view.

Out from Honmaru, I just continued walking around the gardens.

rock garden

Both Honmaru and Ninomaru are planted with varieties of cherry trees and the plum trees. There are also the late blooming cherry trees here. So this may be your other choice to enjoy the cherry blossom if you miss the early season.

Oh yea.. forgot to tell you, this castle is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 Nijo Castle is closed on Tuesdays in January, July, August and December, December 26 - January 4
Visiting hours from 8.45 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee is 600 yen (adult), 350 yen (student), 200 yen (child)

Access : From Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus #9, #50 or Raku Bus #101 to Nijo-jo-mae

By the time I finished with Nijo-jo, it was almost 5 pm. Thinking of maximizing my Kyoto City Bus One-day pass, I took bus #12 to Gion.


Henry Fox said...

rara! lucky u okay dpt amek gmbr dlm nijo castle tu. time i pegi, mmg ramai org so pegawai tu mmg bersepah kat dalam tu jaga2 x kasik amek gmbr. ;((( tp dalam tu mmg lawa kan!

rara said...

@John: hehe time I pegi pon ada pegawai jaga. I jalan slow2 je.. tapi lucky la jugak sbb memang tak ramai org time tu..

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@Sam : Hi Sam! Sure I don't mind to share the articles :)