A truly impressive fortified complex, Nijō Castle was built in 1603 as the official residence of the first Tokugawa shogun. With its moats, walls, secret passageways and hidden chambers, the heavily fortified castle stands as a defiant symbol of the shogun's power.
Entered through an elaborate main gate, the castle complex includes two palaces, Ninomaru and Honmaru. Only Ninomaru is generally open to visitors.
A visit to Ninomaru Palace reveals spectacular artworks, including painted screens and intricate gold leaf ceilings. Known as 'nightingale' floors, the squeaking floorboards were designed to alert the shogun’s bodyguards to the presence of intruders.
Nijō Castle is in the southwest of the city. The closest train station is Nijo-jo-mae, on the Tozai line.
The traditional palace gardens provide a tranquil retreat for a stroll. Designed by a tea master, they offer seasonal photo opportunities of camellias, blossoms, azaleas, maples, water and rock gardens.