Nijo-jo 二条城 : Where the Floors Squeak

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Honmaru

30th May 2011. Written by Xin Li.
Kyoto, Japan
Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the residence of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in Kyoto. It was recognized as one of the best surviving examples castle place architecture of Japan’s feudal era and designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Honmaru Garden

Entering the castle grounds, if not for the crowds, one would feel as if he is entering another world as the castle was surrounded by lush gardens, isolating you from the city outside its walls.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Ninomaru Palace

Palm trees such as these were found around the pond at the Ninomaru Garden were considered exotic by the lords and merchants then, making it a popular feature in Japanese gardens. These palm trees were originally donated by the Saga Clan in Kyushu to commemorate the visit of Emperor Gyoko Miyuki.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Ninomaru Garden

Something to look out for when visiting Nijo-jo is its famed nightingale floors (Ugusuisubari) which squeak when stepped upon. This feature is supposed to be a security measure against intruders.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Karamon

The ceilings and interior of the Ninomaru-goten was elaborately decorated by the Kano School of Painters. Some motifs were strikingly contemporary in aesthetics, resembling works by Gustav Klimt and Wassily Kandinsky.

Unfortunately, Photography and Sketching were not allowed.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Higashi Otemon

Being a popular tourist spot, the Nijo Castle can be swarmed with tourists and students alike. Especially so during Golden week and late May when students around Japan go on a short heritage tour.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Karamon

Even so, parts of the castle grounds can be relatively quiet and peaceful as the castle is rather big.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Near Nishimon

There are plenty of gardens to admire while in the castle grounds.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Honmaru Garden

Including a mini rock garden.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Waraku-en

The Ninomaru Garden is the most popular. It is considered rare to find Japanese gardens in a castle hence the gardens of Nijo Castle were an exception.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Ninomaru Garden

Seiryu-en is more recent, the present garden dates back to the 1960s. It has more than 700 rocks and the components of the garden came from donations by philanthropists and wealthy merchants.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Seiryu-en

Some flowers are in full bloom in late May.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Ninomaru Garden

You could climb up the donjon for a better view of the surrounding inner moat.

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Inner Moat

It cost 600 Yen to enter the Nijo-jo which opens from 8:45 to 17:00. The castle is easily accessible by bus, the JR Sagano Line (Nijo Station) and the Tozai Subway Line (Nijojo-mae Station).

Nijo Castle 二条城 - Karamon


  1. wonderfully captured array of photos. we were in Kyoto in March and stayed at Kyoto International Hotel which was just opposite Nijo-jo but oddly in our three days there, we didnt get a chance to go in. Simply too many things to cover and too little time. thanks for allowing us a glimpse of what we missed. :)

  2. You are welcome!

    Kyoto has lot to see, even after visiting it 3 times i am still unable to cover everything. The sights and scenery change with the seasons too.



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