Motorikyu Nijo Castle

The place where the Edo Period began and ended

Nijo Castle, a plain castle, was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603.

Ieyasu was the victor in the Battle of Sekigahara.
Ieyasu built Nijo Castle to protect Kyoto and to serve as a lodging house for his troops traveling to Kyoto,
In the same year, Ieyasu was inaugurated as the first shogun of the Edo shogunate.

At the end of the Edo period, the 15th shogun of the Edo shogunate, Yoshinobu Tokugawa, announced the restoration of the Great Government,
The ceremony was held in the hall of the Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle to announce the return of power to the Meiji Emperor,
It is known as the stage for the beginning and end of the Edo Period.

National Historic Site of Historical Value

In the modern era, the castle came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Imperial Household and was opened to the public as "Nijo Detached Palace" and then as the current "Nijo Castle (Former Detached Palace Nijo Castle)".
During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the castle also played an important role as a detached palace.

The six buildings of Ninomaru Goten, which still retain the original appearance of the castle, are designated as National Treasures,
A total of 22 buildings and 1016 paintings on the walls of the Ninomaru Palace are designated as Important Cultural Properties.

The castle's vast grounds are home to beautiful gardens, including the Ninomaru Garden and Honmaru Garden, both of which are designated as special national scenic spots.

Because of its historical value, the entire castle is designated as a national historic site and is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (World Cultural Heritage) as a "cultural asset of the ancient capital of Kyoto.

Structure of Motorikyu Nijo Castle

The castle consists of the Honmaru (main citadel) and the Ninomaru (second citadel),
An outer moat was built around Ninomaru,
The main entrance to the castle is through the East Gate and the North Gate (usually closed),
The inner moat between the Honmaru and Ninomaru is accessible from the Honmaru turret gate.

As a castle for the Shogun's stay, it is small in scale and its defensive capability may be problematic,
In response to a question from a vassal, Ieyasu replied
If the castle could hold out for a day or two, reinforcements would come from the surrounding areas.
If this castle should fall into the hands of the enemy, it would take a lot of time to get it back if it were a solid castle.
If this castle were to fall into enemy hands, it would take a lot of time to get it back.

Ninomaru Palace (National Treasure)

The Ninomaru Palace stands to the west of the main entrance from the East Main Gate,
The six buildings are lined up in a row and connected by corridors.
All of the buildings are designated as National Treasures.

The floors and sliding doors of each room in the building are decorated with paintings by Kano Tanyu and other painters of the Kano school.
The original copper plates on the pillars were gilded, making them far more ornate than those that exist today.

Special Place of Scenic Beauty: Ninomaru Garden

The Momoyama-style pond garden, also known as "Hachijin-no-niwa," is designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty.
It is often cited as one of Enshu Kobori's masterpieces.

Three islands float in the pond.
The largest island, Horaijima, is slightly north of the center of the pond,
To the north of Horaijima are Turtle Island and Crane Island, which are made of stones in the shapes of turtles and cranes, respectively.

From the angle where Horaijima and Turtle Island are seen together, the island looks like a crane,
From the angle where Horaijima is seen together with Turtle Island, the stones are arranged in the shape of a crane,
The Horai-jima Island is always designed to represent a pair of cranes and turtles.


Motorikyu Nijo Castle
Official Site
541 Nijojo-cyo, Nijo-dori Horikawa-nishiiru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Telephone number
Hours of operation

Opening hours
8:45 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Closing time: 5:00 p.m.)

Ninomaru Goten viewing hours
8:45 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Exhibition and storage hall hours
9:00 - 16:45 (reception closes at 16:30)


Closed: December 29-December 31
Year-end: December 29-December 31

Ninomaru Palace closed
Tuesdays in December, January, July, and August, January 1 - January 3, and December 26 - December 28 (If these days are holidays, the castle is closed on the following day.)

Admission fee

Adults: 800 yen (500 yen is required to enter the Ninomaru Palace)
Junior high and high school students: 400 yen
Elementary school students: 300 yen

Admission to the Nijo Castle Barrier Paintings Exhibition and Collection
Elementary school students and older: 100 yen (separate admission fee is required)


1 min. walk from Nijojo-mae Sta. on the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line

Bus: 1 min. walk from Nijojo-mae Sta.
Take Kyoto City Bus No. 9, 12, 50, 67, 101, or 111 and get off at Nijojo-mae bus stop.
2 minutes walk from Horikawa-Oike bus stop on Kyoto City Bus No. 15 and Kyoto Bus No. 61, 62, 63, 64.
Six-minute walk from Horikawa Marutamachi bus stop on Kyoto City Bus routes 10, 93, 202, and 204.

Kyoto Kyoto station, Kawaramachi Kyoto City
Castles Historic sites, Cultural properties, Buildings


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