Nijo Castle [二条城]
Main gate of Nijo Castle
The gate to Ninomaru-goten in Nijo Castle
Nijo Castle ("Nijô-jô" in Japanese) is located about 3.5 km north-northwest of Kyoto station.
Kyoto Imperial Palace is located about 1.5 km northeast of this castle.
Nijo is the name of a street running from east to west, and the western end of the street is just at the center of the east side of the castle.
First, a castle was built in this place in the middle of the 16th century.
In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu won the civil war divided Japan in two.
He became the new leader of Japan, and founded the new government in Edo (current Tokyo).
But he decided to build a new castle to stay in Kyoto, the capital of Japan.
It was the last Nijo Castle, and was completed in 1603.
Its castle tower was completed in 1606.
But after Tokugawa Iemitsu, the 3rd Shogun of Edo government and a grandchild of Ieyasu, stayed here in 1624, this castle hadn't been used until the end of the Edo Period (the 1860s).
Moat of Nijo Castle
Ninomaru-goten in Nijo Castle
In 1750, the castle tower was destroyed by fire by lightning stoke.
And, in 1788, some other buildings in the castle were destoyed by Great Fire of Kyoto city.
In 1862, when the end of feudal period came around, a palace "Ninomaru-goten" was rebuilt for the staying of Tokugawa Ieshige, the 14th Shogun.
After that, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th and last Shogun, transferred the authority to the new modern government in 1867.
Under the new Meiji Gobernment, the palace became a villa of Emperor's family in 1885.
In 1915, when Emperor Taisho ascended the throne, the palace was used as one of its ceremonies.
At last, this castle site was opened to the public in 1939.
Now the formal name is Former Villa, Nijo-jo.
A corner tower of Nijo Castle
Ninomaru Garden in Nijo Castle
Photo by Railstation.net
This castle is one of 17 constructions of "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" designated as a World Heritage Site.
The site of the castle is a rectangle in shape measuring 500 meters east to west and 400 meters north to south and is surrounded with moats.
On the east side, there is the main gate.
Another gate is on the north side.
In this site, there are Ninomaru-goten (二の丸御殿), Honmaru-goten (本丸御殿), Japanese gardens and the ruins of the castle as the main buildings.
Ninomaru-goten is the main palace and is near the main gate.
It is the original palace completed in 1603.
The original palace in the castle remains only in Nijo Castle, so it is designated as a national treasure.
The palace has six buildings and the they are connect by a corridor.
Each building has four to seven rooms, and each room is very gorgeous for stay of Shogun.
Honmaru-goten in Nijo Castle
Photo by Kyoto Free Photo
Seiryuen in Nijo Castle
Honmaru-goten is a palace that the residence of Katsura-no-miya, one of the branches of the Imperial Family, was removed and rebuilt here in 1894.
It is on the site of former castle tower, but it is not opened now.
Both palaces have Japanese gardens.
And there is another Japanese garden Seiryuen (清流園) in the north part of the castle.
Guided tour is held, and it also visits the closed part in the castle.
But, an advance reservation is required in order to join the tour.
How to get here
The nearest station of subway is Nijojo-mae (●T14 Tozai Line).