Japan 2009 Highlights: Nijō Castle

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Today’s destination is Nijō Castle, the stately Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shōguns.

The castle was within walking distance of my hotel in Kyoto, so it was the first major attraction that I visited after arriving in the city. Thankfully enough, the rain clouds that had been following me around for part of my trip failed to make an appearance that day, leaving me with clear skies and perfect conditions for a leisurely afternoon stroll.

The photographs can speak for themselves so from here on, I’ll try to keep the commentary down to a minimum. For a complete historical background and other boring minutiae, check out Wikipedia.

600 yen gets you across the outer moat and through the castle’s monumental main gate.

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Around the corner stands the Kara-mon, the main entrance to the Ninomaru Palace compound.

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Within the gate stands the sprawling Ninomaru Palace.

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Visitors are allowed inside but photography is strictly forbidden. A shame, because the palace’s richly decorated interiors are some of the most splendid I’ve seen anywhere in Japan. Considered individually, the artwork isn’t all that much to look at – but taken together, the effect of the colourful wall paintings, intricate woodwork, brightly painted ceilings and lavish gilding is almost overwhelming in its beauty. And for all that, the palace actually seems like a comfortable place to live in! If I had a billion dollars to spend I’d probably burn much of it building myself a house exactly like this one.

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5 Responses

  1. The gate is impressive, and I liked the view of the gardens. Dango is a nice extra hehe

  2. @Kitsune: Yeah, there’s nothing like treating oneself to freshly roasted dango after a long, exhausting day of walking. I got my first taste a couple of days before I visited Kyoto – I was in Nikko (north of Tokyo) at the time and I had just finished a foot-killing walk through the sights when I spotted a roadside vendor laying some fresh dango on a grill and basting them with this incredibly flavourful sauce. Forget sushi: they should declare roasted dango their national dish.

  3. It sounds like you enjoyed your dango 🙂

    haha Roasted dango as a national food!

  4. […] our misfortune, that day the parade was already over, so we headed to our first destination: the Nijo Castle. This castle, did not look like that of Himeji (you can see it from the photos), and was prohibited […]

  5. […] more pictures and additional commentary, please swing by the posts describing my previous visits here (2009) and here […]

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