Nijo Castle is a structure that was first built in the year 1603 as the residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu was one of the first shogun figures which lived in the Edo Period. The building was eventually finished off by his grandson 23 years after it was originally constructed. The family continued to expand the Castle by adding an extra five stories of Castle keep.
The Shogunate would eventually fall in the year 1867 in the castle was used as an Imperial Palace for some time before it was donated to the city and used it as a historic site. These buildings are perhaps some of the best examples of feudal era architecture in Japan and through this significance the entire structure was named a UNESCO world heritage site in the year 1994. The buildings in the palace as a whole remain a public historical site.
Exploring the Castle means going through three main areas including the Honmaru which was the main circle of defense, the Ninomaru which is seen as the secondary gate or defense line as well as gardens that surround the main castle grounds. Most of the castle grounds are surrounded by moats as well as stone walls which now have bridges and pathways across the.
Entering the site takes place through a fairly large gate at the East of the facility. Audio guides are available through the exploration of the Temple and there’s a kiosk directly inside the gate. One of the first features that you will see entering into the facility is the Chinese style Karamon gate which represents the pathway into the secondary circle of defense. After passing this second gateway you will begin to see the palace reveal itself.
From the architecture to the gardens this palace remains a beautiful site to explore. The landscaped gardens in this area feature a number of ornamental stones, well manicured shrubs and pine trees as well as a very large pond water feature. Going during cherry blossom season is also a particular pleasure with all of the trees in bloom.