Today we started our touristing with Nijō Castle. We purchased a day tripper Kyoto ticket and then hopped on the bus to the castle.
Upon arrival to the castle we thought it’d be a good idea to fork out another 500 yen for the audio guide (thankfully they were offered in English). We then realised that the audio guide is designed for one and we had left our headphone multiport adapter at our accommodation. So we decided to take it in turns and listen to alternating entries. This wasn’t a problem because the majority of the content in the audio guide was also written on signs around the castle. The audio guide included some extra dates, further comments on the history, and comments on the art style. But these were just embellishments and we didn’t absorb much of this extra info anyway. Moral of the story, the guide isn’t worth it if you are more than one person, and you’re not a history buff.
The funniest thing was just beside the entrance to the castle building there was this sign.
The Castle itself was pretty interesting. As you walk through you see that each room is made for a specific purpose, each one has a unique layout, room size and wall art. Some rooms were for meeting with lower members of upper society, others were for meeting with higher members and family, and there were living rooms as well. A few of the rooms were decorated with gold leaf and images of tigers. The floorboards squaked as you walked over them. The squeak was high pitched and almost sounded like a bird chirping.
Outside there were different areas walled off and were created for varying degrees of defence. Some of the original defences were burnt down or lost in other ways. But a few of them were still standing.
Around the outside of the central area were open gardens that were large enough for parties. In the inner walls, closer to the castle building there were some very well landscaped gardens that were on par with the ones we saw in Arashiyama.
One of the fun tid-bits of information that we learnt from the audio guide was that one of the entrances in the castle was actually newer than the rest. It didn’t exist until a new emperor was planning on living in the castle. At which time the people of Kyoto built another enterance and constructed halls for the feast. After the emperor entered the castle and the feast was over they deconstructed all of the dining halls leaving only the newly built entrance!
Something that Ellie and I found interesting about this Castle, and Japan in general, is the use of fine mist to cool down people. The fun part about that at Nijo Castle is that the mist was being sprayed from bamboo structures that looked pretty cool.