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Exploring Nijo Castle in Kyoto

Kyoto is a historical city that has many UNESCO Heritage Sites, one of which is Nijo Castle. This site took me back centuries ago during Japan's feudal epoch.

Exploring Nijo Castle

Kyoto is an easy city to travel in; everything's laid out for both tourists and locals. Buses and trains pass through famous and historical sites, making it accessible for everyone (I love Japan already).

As I was on the bus heading to the castle, I can't help but notice how Kyoto is like a city in two different worlds, the past and present. They preserved their heritage while modernizing; moving from place to place felt like time traveling. One moment I was on a train or in a fastfood chain, the next I'm in a narrow alley looking for food or a temple that dates back centuries ago.

Nijo Castle finished construction in 1626, during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu. The primary intention was to build a residence in Kyoto for the Tokugawa Shogunate.

The castle has two kuruwas or concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the remnants of the Honmaru Palace and several gardens. Japan is a hierarchical society as represented by their language and in designs of certain historical structures.

The castle is a clear example of this hierarchical architecture. Low-ranking officials used the outer regions of the Ninomaru Palace, while high-ranking ones entered through the inner chambers. The Tokugawas displayed their power by displaying these entrances prominently, they may have also used this to intimidate visitors. The palace also had what was called "nightingale floors" as a means to protect officials from assassinations and sneak attacks. The floors would make a bird-like sound when someone walks on them.

What I specially liked about the castle was the gardens; they blended well with the surroundings and added a soft touch to an otherwise imposing fortress.

I was in Kyoto during autumn, which allowed me to see the changing colors of the leaves. The yellows, reds and oranges were a sight to see for someone who has only experienced two seasons.

I just couldn't help but take a photo of the changing colors of the leaves.

Nijo Castle is a noteworthy destination, I enjoyed walking around the complex, picturing how the shogunate lived during their heyday and just relaxing in the gardens. The lost in time feel of not only the castle, but also the city itself is worth the adventure.

*There is an entrance fee of Y600 to enter Nijo Castle.

Read more about Kyoto: Guide to Kyoto

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