In the middle of the City, surrounded by a moat and enclosed by stone walls is Nijo-jo castle that is one of 17 World Cultural Heritage sites of Kyoto.
Primary attractions of Nijo-jo castle would be Ninomaru-Goten and gardens. Ninomaru-Goten, a national treasure, is a typical Buke-Fu Shoin-Zukuri (the shoin style of traditional residential architecture) of Azuchi-Momoyama era (1568-1603). The architecture itself and shoheki-ga paintings in it are worth to see. Shoheki-ga were painted by Kano Tanyu and his company. Photography is prohibited in the building so that no photos are displayed in this page.
Ninomaru teien has a magnificent characteristic peculiar to garden design in the early days of Edo era (1603-1867). The chisen-kaiyu-shiki teien has three islands, four stone bridges and many large stones.
History of Nijo-jo
Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) gained a decisive victory at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. In the next year he ordered feudal lords in western Japan to build Nijo-jo as the place to stay when he visited Kyoto. The construction (present day Ninomaru part) was completed in 1603, the same year when Ieyasu opened a Shogunate government in Edo (present day Tokyo).
The castle was expanded to the present day scale by the order of the third Tokugawa Shogun Iemitsu in 1626. In the year 1634, Iemitsu visited Nijo-jo with an army three hundred thousand strong. After this, no Shogun visited Kyoto until the 14th Shogun Iemochi’s visit in 1863.
In the year 1750, the castle tower was reduced to ashes by fire of lightening and in 1788, the buildings of Honmaru was burned down by the great fire in the city.
The last Tokugawa Shogun Yoshinobu announced the Restoration of the Imperial Rule in this castle in 1867.