Nijo-jo Castle – Kyoto

Built in 1603, Nijo-jo Castle was the stronghold of the Tokugawa Shogunate and was designed to express wealth, power, and intimidation to all who entered it.

Nijo-jo Castle – History

Nijo-jo Castle Japlanning Kyoto Travel Japan freelance

Nijo-jo Castle

Nijo-jo Castle was built as the official Kyoto residence of the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu, and was completed by the third Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu. It’s a flatland castle that includes two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of a previous palace (the Honmaru Palace), various support buildings, and several gardens.

The castle is built on 275,000 square meters of land, and of that, 8000 square meters is occupied by buildings. It’s one of the finest examples of architecture from the early Edo period and Momoyama culture in Japan and includes beautiful examples of Edo period building design, lavish paintings, and skillfully crafted carvings.

However Nijo-jo has suffered it’s share of destruction. In 1750 it’s Donjon (or central keep) was destroyed by lightning. Then in 1788 the inner palace was destroyed by a city-wide fire and remained empty until 1893. In recent times it’s suffered several assaults by typhoon.

According to Wikipedia Nijo-jo’s architectural design is, ‘an excellent example of social control manifested in architectural space,’ citing:

‘Low-ranking visitors were received in the outer regions of the Ninomaru whereas high-ranking visitors were shown the more subtle inner chambers. Rather than attempting to conceal the entrances to the rooms with bodyguards (as was done in many castles) the Tokugawas chose to display them prominently. Thus the construction lent itself to expressing intimidation and power to Edo-period visitors.

Finally the castle boasts a skillfully designed and implemented Nightingale Floor that chirps and twitters beautifully as you walk around and was designed to protect and alert occupants of the castle to intruders aka – ninja!

In pictures: Nijo-jo Castle

Nijo-jo castle kyoto japan travel japlanning kally

[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]
Entrance to the main Castle

Sakura Nijo-jo Kyoto JaPlanning writer whitehead


Nijo-jo gardens kyoto japan travel japlanning

[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]
Nijo-jo Gardens

Nijo-jo castle gardens Kyoto Japan Travel JaPlanning

One of the central gardens

Nijo-jo castle moat kyoto japan japlanning freelance

[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]
One of the moats surrounding the Castle

Nijo-jo sakura Kyoto Japan Travel JaPlanning


Nijo-jo castle lookout japan kyoto japlanning writing

[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]
Nijo-jo Castle Lookout

Nijo-jo gardens sakura kyoto japan freelance writer

The woman on the right was doing the most outrageous poses!

Sakura flower Nijo-jo japlanning Japan Kyoto

[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]
Sakura Flowers

Nijo-jo sakura grove Kyoto Japan

[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]
Nearly upskirted!

Sakura Dandelions Nijo-jo Castle Kyoto Japan travel freelance writer

[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]

Sadly there are no photos from inside the castle as photography is not allowed.

If you’re in Kyoto you should definitely visit Nijo-jo to see the castle for yourself – it’s very beautiful and impressive. The Nightingale Floor alone is worth the visit!

Next post: WAK Japan – our calligraphy lesson

Until next time,

Kally & Mon.

Visiting Nijo-jo Castle

To visit the castle you need to get to the Nijojomae station on the Karasuma subway line. I can’t remember which exit you take but I’m fairly certain that the castle exit is clearly marked.

Once you exit the train station the castle will be directly in front of you – easy!

Nijo-jo Castle nijojomae station karasuma subway Kyoto Japan JaPlanning maps travel

Nijo-jo Castle access map

The entrance fee for Nijo-jo is 600 JPY.


  1. Wikipedia

Image Credits:

[Image Credit (1-7): Monique Nielsen]

What is your favourite castle or shrine in Kyoto? Leave a comment, let us know!

6 thoughts on “Nijo-jo Castle – Kyoto

  1. Pingback: Hiroshima – The trip that never was | JaPlanning

  2. Pingback: WAK Japan | JaPlanning

  3. Pingback: Tips for visiting Japan – Part III – Kyoto | JaPlanning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s