Open from 8:45am to 4:00pm; closed on Tuesdays, 26th December and 4th January. 600 Yen per entrance (approx. £4.50)It is one of the must-see sites in Kyoto. The most important events in the history of Japan took place here, at Nijo Castle. Built on flat land, it is a typical example of a hijarŰ (a 'plains castle'). Nijo Castle was built upon the order of Shogun (an important General) Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603. It consists of two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various annexes, and several gardens. Visitors will be struck by the soberness of the ensemble. Indeed, you won't find any superfluous furniture or decorations here, just the colourfully-painted Chinese-style entrance gate, richly ornate with gilding and a frieze sculpted with birds and flowers. This is definitely not the Ch‚teau de Versailles! Nevertheless, there are some magnificent paintings decorating the sliding doors in the castle's 33-odd rooms. What is particular about Nijo Castle is its floor. When you walk on the wooden boards, they make a noise that sounds like the song of a nightingale. It was a sort of alarm of the times. In the south of the castle, the Shinsen-en Castle, its sanctuary and its pond are the last remains of the original imperial palace that was burned down in 1227.
Nij? Castle is one of the rare castles from the Edo Period that still exists today. It is a typical example of a residential castle built on the plains.© Rod Wonglikitpanya / 123RF
Nij? Castle is made up of two circular defensive walls and two palaces: Ninomaru Palace, which is almost entirely made of cypress wood, and Honmaru Palace.© tito
This wooden gate painted in bright colours is decorated with lavishly sculpted metal elements covered in gold.© Chee-Onn Leong / 123RF
To reach the Honmaru Palace you have to cross the two moats in the park. This means that you can enjoy the gardens, which are famous for the great diversity of their stones.© Chee-Onn Leong / 123RF
The elegant landscaped garden, with a pond, of Nij? Castle stretches out over one of the most beautiful parks in Kyoto.© tito