Nijo Castle – Shogun Residence in Kyoto
A fabulous architectural gem, Nijo Castle consists of a town with several buildings, each telling a story more fantastic than the next. You don't want to miss this!
Kyoto is a great place to visit for a thousand different reasons. The city is overflowing with history and culture; from the beautiful temples and shrines, to the traditional town center with its hurrying maiko and geisha, and of course – Nijō Castle.
Nijō Castle is a great spot to learn about Kyoto’s development, its history stretching back to the early Edo Period (1603-1868) when Kyoto began to take on the characteristics that it is still loved for today. Read on for a full guide to the castle.
Want more castles? Check our article on Japan Castles – the 15 Best Japanese Castles
About Nijō Castle
Nijō Castle in Kyoto consists of two concentric rings of moats and water trenches, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens. The construction began in 1601 by order of Tokugawa Ieyasu – a famed revolutionary and “unifier of Japan”. The outer palace was completed in just 2 years, but construction continued on the castle town for another two decades. Once completed in 1626, it served as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns.
The castle suffered significant damage over the years from a variety of sources, including a lightning strike in 1750. In 1788 the Inner Palace was destroyed by a city-wide fire, leaving the site empty until 1862. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, castles, including Nijō, were abandoned, only serving as a temporary base for government ministries and the military before finally opening to the public in 1940.
Further Info and Events
There are several events throughout the year that are great for visitors young and old to participate in. One of these is the Spring Tea Meet in April, where everyone enjoys the cherry blossoms with a cup of tea and some sweets. Usually held around the 10th of April, be sure to check the official site for more info and exact dates. In March and April the castle town is also lit up at night, enhancing its beauty.
Another fun event you may want to keep an eye out for is the Castle Festival in Autumn. It lasts a whole 2 months, with a variety of events taking place.
For more events and seasonal information on Kyoto, check our articles below:
Mon – Sun
8:45 am – 5:00 pm
closed on Tuesdays in January, July, August and December as well as over New Years (12/26 – 01/04)
adult 600 yen
child 350 yen (junior high school)
young child (primary school)
The castle park is easily reachable by public transport – a short four-minute walk from Nijo Station or two minutes from Nijojo-mae Station. These stations are serviced by the dark orange Tozai Line on Kyoto’s railway system. Check the line plan above for more info on how to get there from your closest station.