Friday, December 11, 2009

Nijo Castle - Kyoto Japan

I purchased a Japan Rail Pass for my trip which allowed me to travel anywhere in Japan. There were two places in Kyoto I hadn't had time to see on my previous trip so one day I decided to take a day trip from Tokyo and visit them.

Nijo Castle, a World Heritage Site, doesn't look like most typical Japanese castles as it's not a vertical fortress but a horizontal series of five buildings. I knew that Nijo Castle was known for its elaborate interior decorations which I'd seen pictures of and wanted to visit. The castle took twenty three years to complete and was the Kyoto residence of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). In addition to the art work I wanted to walk along the nightingale floors which were made so they sing (squeak) as one walks on them. And they did. As I walked along the wooden floors in my stocking feet I realized no intruder/assassin would have gotten very far. Unfortunately no photographs were allowed inside the buildings.

Once inside the castle and its gardens it's easy to forget that one is still in the center of the modern city of Kyoto.

The entrance to the Ninomaru Palace complex of buildings is quite impressive.

The crow is real not a decoration.

The beautiful elaborate decorations continued inside the palace.

Nijo Castle is also famous for its gardens which were designed by tea master and landscape architect Kobori Enshu.

What's a castle without a high wall and a moat.

The trees were just beginning to turn color during my visit.

A woman grounds keeper. Her clothing looked so interesting and comfortable too.

An elborate doorway to a side exit.

Ah, food, souvenirs, school kids and low tables where everyone sat together while they ate.

This food stall had beautiful textile decorations and served tasty food.

This noodle dish 'hit the spot' after my walk through the castle and its gardens.


YTSL said...

Interesting photos and great commentary! :)

Why aren't photos allowed inside the buildings? So sad that you can't share what they look inside with us. :S

sbk said...

hi ytsl,


Many museums don't allow photographs and the art work in this castle was certainly museum quality.

Some museum exhibits now have very low lighting so the paintings, lacquer etc. don't fade from the light. The burst of light from a camera (and hundreds of cameras)is even more detrimental to some art objects so if photography were allowed the object becomes faded/damaged much sooner.

I think it's very difficult to police exhibits in terms of cameras with/without flashes. Nijo Castle had very little light and lots of attendants around to make sure no one took pictures.

There was a photo book of the castle interiors for sale in the gift shop which silly me didn't purchase.