Nijo Castle is a Japanese castle complex and former seat of the Shogun in Kyoto. It was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Edo period. After 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an Imperial Palace for some time before being given to the city as a historical site and made accessible to the public. The palace buildings are arguably the best-preserved examples of palace architecture of the Japanese feudal period, and the castle was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Nijo Castle can be divided into three areas: the Honmaru (main circle of defense), the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defense) and some gardens that surround Honmaru and Ninomaru. The entire castle grounds and the Honmaru are surrounded by stone walls and moats. First, you reach the Karamon Gate in Chinese style, the entrance to Ninomaru, where the main attraction of the castle, the Ninomaru Palace, is located.
Preserved in its original form, the palace consists of several separate buildings connected by corridors with so-called nightingale floors. They carry this name as they squeak when walking on them, a safety measure against intruders. The palace rooms are decorated with tatami mats and feature elegantly decorated ceilings and beautifully painted sliding doors. Outside Ninomaru Palace, there is Ninomaru Garden, a traditional Japanese landscaped garden with a large pond, ornamental stones, and manicured pine trees.
Unlike Ninomaru Palace, the Honmaru Palace is not regularly open to the public, although there are occasional special openings. However, visitors can stroll through the Honmaru Gardens and climb the stone foundations of the former keep, which offers a view of the castle grounds.