Kyoto WH, Nijo - jo Castle — January 14, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Nijō Castle: Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Residence in Kyoto!

The karamon main gate to Ninomaru Palace

The karamon main gate to Ninomaru Palace


In 1601, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, ordered all the feudal lords in Western Japan to contribute to the construction of Nijō Castle, which was completed during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1626. Parts of Fushimi Castle, such as the main tower and the karamon, were moved here in 1625-26.[1] It was built as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns. The Tokugawa Shogunate used Edo as the capital city, but Kyoto continued to be the home of the Imperial Court. Kyoto Imperial Palace is located north-east of Nijo Castle.
The central keep, or donjon, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in 1750.
In 1788, the Inner Palace was destroyed by a city-wide fire. The site remained empty until it was replaced by a prince’s residence transferred from the Kyoto Imperial Palace in 1893.
In 1867, the Ninomaru Palace was the stage for the declaration by Tokugawa Yoshinobu, returning the authority to the Imperial Court. Next year the Imperial Cabinet was installed in the castle. The palace became imperial property and was declared a detached palace. During this time, the Tokugawa hollyhock crest was removed wherever possible and replaced with the imperial chrysanthemum.
In 1939, the palace was donated to the city of Kyoto and opened to the public the following year.

Ninomaru palace of Nijō Castle

Ninomaru Palace: The 3300 square meter Ninomaru Palace (二の丸御殿, Ninomaru Gōten) consists of five connected separate buildings and is built almost entirely of Hinoki cypress. The decoration includes lavish quantities of gold leaf and elaborate wood carvings, intended to impress visitors with the power and wealth of the shoguns. The sliding doors and walls of each room are decorated with wall paintings by artists of the Kanō school.
The castle is an excellent example of social control manifested in architectural space. Low-ranking visitors were received in the outer regions of the Ninomaru, whereas high-ranking visitors were shown the more subtle inner chambers. Rather than attempt to conceal the entrances to the rooms for bodyguards (as was done in many castles), the   Tokugawas chose to display them prominently. Thus, the construction lent itself to expressing intimidation and power to Edo-period visitors.

Tokugawa Yoshinobu in the Kuroshoin

The building houses several different reception chambers, offices and the living quarters of the shogun, where only female attendants were allowed. One of the most striking features of the Ninomaru Palace are the “nightingale floors” (uguisubari) in the corridors. To protect the occupants from sneak attacks and assassins, the builders constructed the floors of the corridors in such a way as to squeak like birds when anyone walks on them.
Some of the rooms in the castle also contained special doors where the shogun’s bodyguard could come out and protect him.

The room sequence starting at the entrance is:

* Yanagi-no-ma (Willow Room),
* Wakamatsu-no-ma (Young Pine Room)
* Tozamurai-no-ma (Retainers’ Room)
* Shikidai-no-ma (Reception Room)
* Rōchu-no-ma (Ministers’ Offices)
* Chokushi-no-ma (Imperial Messenger’s Room)

The Ōhiroma (Great Hall) is the central core of the Ninomaru Palace and consists of four chambers:

* Ichi-no-ma (First Grand Chamber)
* Ni-no-ma (Second Grand Chamber)
* San-no-ma (Third Grand Chamber)
* Yon-no-ma (Fourth Grand Chamber)

as well as the Musha-kakushi-no-ma (Bodyguards’ Chamber) and the Sotetsu-no-ma (Japanese fern-palm chamber).

The back parts are the

* Kuroshoin (Inner Audience Chamber)
* Shiroshoin (Shogun’s living quarters)

The main access to the Ninomaru is through the karamon, a court and the mi-kurumayose or “honourable carriages approach”.

The Honmaru Palace:

(本丸御殿, Honmaru Goten) has a surface area of 1600 square meters. The complex has four parts: Living quarters, reception and entertainment rooms, entrance halls and kitchen area. The different areas are connected by corridors and courtyards. The architectural style is late Edo period. The palace displays paintings by several famous masters, such as Kanō Eigaku.

The Honmaru Palace was originally was similar as the Ninomaru Palace. The current structure was known as the Katsura Palace before relocated to the present site in 1893 and renamed. Originally the palace had 55 buildings, but only a small part was relocated. In 1928 the entronment banquet of the Showa Emperor was held here.

Gardens: The castle area has several gardens and groves of cherry and ume trees. The Ninomaru garden was designed by the famous landscape architect and tea master, Kobori Enshu. It is located between the two main rings of fortifications, next to the palace of the same name. The garden has a large pond with three islands and features numerous carefully placed stones and topiary pine trees.

The Seiryū-en garden is the most recent part of the Nijō Castle. It was constructed in 1965 in the northern part of the complex, as a facility for the reception of official guests of the city of Kyoto and as a venue for cultural events. Seiryū-en has two tea houses and more than 1000 carefully arranged stones.

Plans of Nijō Castle. 1) Higashi-Ōte-mon (Great Eastern Gate, today main entrance) 2) Guard house 3) Kara-mon 4) Honourable Carriage Approach (main entry to the Ninomaru Palace) 5) Ninomaru Palace 6) Kuroshoin 7) Shiroshoin 8) Ninomaru Garden 9) Pond 10) Kitchen 11) Meals preparation room 12) Storage buildings 13) Resting room 14) Toilets 15) Minami-mon (Southern Gate) 16) Cherry-trees grove 17) Plum-trees grove 18) Nishi-mon (Western Gate) 19) Honmaru 20) Bridge 21) Honmaru Garden 22) Donjon 23) Waraku-an 24) Koun-tei 25) Kita-Ōte-mon (Great Northern Gate) 26) Green Garden 27) Gallery A. Inner Moat B. Outer Moat

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your priutces with us, especially the night shots. I went to Scotland several years ago and we walked through a residential area of Glasgow and I also took lots of priutces of doors and gates. The doors and gates there seemed more interesting than what I see in my neighborhood. I was still shooting 35mm at the time and went through all my film and had to try and buy more. I got some night shots of Edinburgh castle, but I think yours turned out much better. I had a friend trying to keep people on the street from tripping over my tripod which I had been carrying in and out of pubs all night. I hope you enjoyed your trip!

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