Nijo Castle – a World Heritage site
Nijo Castle was constructed in 1603 as the Kyoto lodging place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had secured victory in the Battle of Sekigahara. It was later remodeled into the form of Nijo Castle that is seen today by Iemitsu, the third shogunate. As a flatland castle, the structure was built on a larger plot of land after the territory of the daimyo had increased. In the spacious castle grounds are Ninomaru Palace (National Treasure), Honmaru Palace (Important Cultural Property), and the Ninomaru Garden (Place of Scenic Beauty). While strolling through the castle premises, we recommend viewing these important buildings and the wall panel paintings in Ninomaru Palace, which is an Important Cultural Property.
Highlights of Nijo Castle
Of the more than 3000 wall panel paintings in Ninomaru Palace, 1016 are National Important Cultural Properties. These wall paintings were not produced at the time of the castle’s construction. Rather, they were painted by Kano Tanyu when the castle underwent a major reform in 1626. These wall panel paintings were painted using the method known as the Kano school, in which screen covered in gold leaf are decorated with brilliant pine trees using natural pigments.
Gardens constructed across the three eras of Nijo Castle
The gardens of Nijo Castle comprise three styles. From the Edo period, there is Ninomaru Garden, from the Meiji period, there is Honmaru Garden, and from the Showa period there is Seiryu Garden.Landscaping stones are placed around the pond with a central island in Ninomaru Garden, which faces the private residencies and the great hall. Although it cannot be seen by tourists from the great hall, this garden was made so that a vast landscape could originally be seen from the hall. This garden is one of the foremost examples of daimyo-style gardens. Honmaru Garden was made according to the instructions of the Emperor Meiji. Seiryu Garden was constructed in 1965 as a combination of Japanese and Western styles. In 2005, in the Journal of Japanese Gardens, a specialist American publication about Japanese gardens, Seiryu Garden was ranked fifth and Ninomaru garden was ranked tenth. In 2006, Seiryu Garden was sixth and Ninomaru Garden was eighth. Viewing the gardens is possible, but entrance is restricted. The gardens are opened to the public during various events, including the end of the year holiday. Please check the website for details.