Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty 3d Himeji-jo 3D Puzzle

Nijō Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady

Nijō Castle is classified as a flatland castle, and is located in Kyōto. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Yamashiro Province. It is associated with the Tokugawa clan. Dates in use: 1603 - 1871.

The main tower has long since burnt down but the Ni-no-maru palace's carvings, paintings & surrounding garden have earned it World Heritage listing. The defences, while impressive looking, would never have withstood any real assault. It's role was never that of stronghold but instead as a symbol of the Tokugawa's power & authority.

The Ni-no-maru palace is without a doubt the main attraction of Nijō Castle and can be described as a work of art in itself. The walls & sliding doors are decorated by the paintings of masters & the amazing carved panels above the doors made from 35-centimeter-thick blocks of cypress.

The palace consists of five connected buildings, and the more important the guest, the more access they were afforded. The fifth building however, was reserved for the Shōgun himself & his female attendants who were, no doubt forced to endure mediocre Karaoke & lengthy games of rock-paper-scissors.


1601 Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the construction of Nijō Castle to be undertaken by the Daimyō of western Japan.
1603 Ieyasu visited upon the completion of the Ninomaru Palace.
1626 The main tower was erected signaling the completion of Nijō Castle . The tower was formerly the main tower of Fushimi Castle located just to the South.
1750 Several buildings, including the main tower was burnt to the ground as a result of a lightning strike.
1788 Massive city-wide fires destroyed buildings in the main enclosure.
1867 The 15th hereditary Tokugawa Shogun returned control of the nation to the Emperor.
1893 Prince Katsura's residence was transferred to the main enclosure to replace the palace that had burnt down in 1750.

Historical recognition

Ninomaru PalaceUNESCO World Heritage Listed
Ninomaru Palace GardenUNESCO World Heritage Listed
Ninomaru Kurumayose & ToozamuraiNational Treasure
Ninomaru ShikidaiNational Treasure
Ninomaru OhiromaNational Treasure
Ninomaru SotetsunomaNational Treasure
Ninomaru KuroshoinNational Treasure
Ninomaru ShiroshoinNational Treasure
Honmaru Yagura GateImportant Cultural Property
Honmaru GenkanImportant Cultural Property
Honmaru GoshoinImportant Cultural Property
Honmaru Otsune GotenImportant Cultural Property
Honmaru DaidokoroImportant Cultural Property
Ninomaru Karamon GateImportant Cultural Property
Ninomaru TsukijiImportant Cultural Property
Ninomaru DaidokoroImportant Cultural Property
Ninomaru OkiyodikoroImportant Cultural Property
Higashi Ote GateImportant Cultural Property
Kita Ote GateImportant Cultural Property
Nishi GateImportant Cultural Property
Tonan Sumi TurretImportant Cultural Property
Tonan Sumi Turret northern wallImportant Cultural Property
Seinan Sumi TurretImportant Cultural Property
Rice StorehouseImportant Cultural Property
North Rice StorehouseImportant Cultural Property
South Rice StorehouseImportant Cultural Property
Naruko GateImportant Cultural Property
Momoyama GateImportant Cultural Property
Kita Nakashikiri GateImportant Cultural Property
Minami Nakashikiri GateImportant Cultural Property