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Nijo Castle Yagura (2/4)
Ninomaru Palace (3/4)
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A historical glimpse of Shogun lifestyle


Nijo Castle

600¥ 8:45 - 17:00

Nijo Castle is a flatland castle which was originally conceived in 1601 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, as the Kyoto residence for the ruling Shogun. Its construction was completed in 1626 during the reign of Ieyasu's third son, Iemitsu, who further expanded the compound with a five story castle keep. After the shogunate came to an end, Nijo was used as a residence for the Emperor for a few years and finally donated to the city of Kyoto. Nijo Castle is nowadays one of the finest examples of Momoya architecture in Japan and it's designed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1994.

Some of the castle's fortifications, including the central keep, were lost to fire during the 18th century and never rebuilt. The Ninomaru Palace, Nijo Castle's most celebrated building, consists of five structures with 33 rooms decorated with traditional wall paintings, made by members of the famous Kano School, and covers a total surface of 3.300 square meters. One of its unique features is the wooden "Nightingale Floor", which was designed to squeak like a bird when walked on, in order to alert bodyguards from sneak attacks.

The castle area has several landscape gardens featuring walking paths and hundreds of cherry trees, making it an ideal spot for cherry blossom viewing during April. The Ninomaru garden, which surrounds the Ninomaru Palace, is considered as one of the most beautiful views of the Nijo Castle. It was designed by the famous landscape architect Kobori Enushu and features a large pond with several interconnected small islands, carefully placed stones and numerous manicured pine trees.

Imperial Palace

Free 8:45 - 12:00-13:00 - 17:00

Kyoto Imperial palace was the main residence of the Emperor of Japan until 1869, when the capital was transferred to Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration. The palace has been burnt down and rebuilt on many occasions along history. The present construction dates from 1855 and was built reproducing the Heian Period architecture style.

The Palace is formed of several buildings, gates and gardens which are still used nowadays for official ceremonies related to the Emperor. To enter the imperial palace one must make a reservation in advance for one of its free tours at the Imperial Household Office, located at the north west corner of the palace, during the listed hours. Same-day reservations are possible.


Nijojo-mae Sation
Tozai Line

Nijojo-mae Station
Bus No. 9,12,50,101

Marutamachi Station
Karasuma line

Imadegawa Station
Karasuma Line


Nijo castle is located next to Nijojo-mae subway and bus stations. The Imperial Palace is located next to Marutamachi or Imadegawa subway stations.