Motorikyu Nijojo

Still shows off the power of Tokugawa Shogunate 

Text: Keiko Nakamura

Photo: Motorikyu Nijojo


Nijojo castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu (the first shogun of Edo period). It was completed by his grandson Iemitsu. This is the only world heritage of castle in Kyoto, and is full of glorious decorations.


Behind the Karamon-gate with beautiful carving of cranes, the Ninomaru Palace. Each of 33 rooms have its own exclusive use. The highest class is the ohiroma (great hall), where shogun of higher rank will sit in the upper level and daimyo at the lower secondary room. The historical announcement of Taisei Hokan (the restoration of government to the crown) was declared in this room.

Ninomaru Palace has a valuable wall drawings all over. All the rooms except Hakusho-in, the resting room for shogun, had a gilt wall drawings by the Kano Tanyu, one of the foremost Japanese painters, school. 1016 out of over 3000 walls are designated as the important heritage.


Tozamurai, a waiting room for the daimyo, had fierceful drawing of tigers and leopards. In contrary, Kuroshoin room was used for close visitors and had a relaxing drawing of sakura flowers. Besides these drawings, the scenery of the garden had been planned carefully to bring out the most beautiful sight, too.

The Honmaru Palace had been brought from Kyoto Imperial Palace to fill in the place where once was a five tower Tenshukaku. The Sakura garden has more than 400 trees of 50 kinds of sakura and is usually packed with visitors during the spring.

ADDRESS: 541 Nijo-dori Horikawa Nishi-iru Nijojo-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto (map)
PHONE: +81(0)75-841-0096
CLOSED: Tuesday during July & August (open if it falls on public holiday, and be closed the next day). Ninomaru Palace will be closed every Tuesday of December and January
HOURS: 8:45-16:00 (Ninomaru Palace 9:00~)

★Next TRAVEL IDEA spot of ‘10 Things To Do in Kyoto - Visiting Temples and Shrines' is ‘Nanzen-ji Temple

★TRAVEL IDEA ‘10 Things To Do in Kyoto'
① Visiting Temples and Shrines
② Buying souvenirs
③ Visiting Arashiyama・Sagano
④ Having Kyo-ryori
⑤ Wearing Kimono
⑥ Having Japanese tea
⑦ Having seafood
⑧ Visiting shops in Machiya
⑨ Being exposed to a traditional culture
⑩ Feeling nature