My Visit To Nijo-jo Castle

History

Nijo Castle was built as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shōguns. The Tokugawa shogunate used Edo as the capital city, but Kyoto continued to be the home of the Imperial Court. Kyoto Imperial Palace is located north-east of Nijō Castle.— Wikipedia

Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康, January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616) was one of the first unifiers of Japan. Feudal Japan was split among many warlords, also know as daimyos. As the son of a minor daimyo, Ieyasu was sent to live as a hostage under another more powerful daimyo as a child. After his father died, he became a daimyo. In 1603, he became the shogun.

No Shoes, Please

Once I passed through the main gates and through the Kara-mon Gates, I could see many were crowded around the front of the Ninamoru-goten Palace. We had to remove our shoes and leave them sitting on the shelves. Then, we slipped into clean slippers that they lent to us visitors.

Photography of any kind was not allowed at all. As I walked slowly along the dim corridors, I could hear the beautiful sounds of birds! These were sounds from the “nightingale floors” (uguisubari) of this particular palace.

The walls of each room had magnificent murals of cranes and evergreens. These symbols reflected longevity.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Going up and down the wooden stairs was a bit tricky and sometimes, slippery! Quite a few times, someone would lose a slipper as they climbed up the stairs. Of course, visitors behind would help pick it back up.

There was only one path that visitors could go, so at the end of the visit, we all ended back at the place where we left our shoes.

The Surroundings

There was a beautiful garden and pond inside the palace grounds. The day had started with a bit of rain, but stopped as I wandered around the garden.

Fortunately, I had studied a little bit about Japanese history and architecture in the past. This knowledge made the visit more memorable.

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