Soul of the Garden

Images of Japan: Nijo-jo Castle, Kyoto

Nijo-jo castle sits at the very heart of Kyoto and is one of the great landmarks of Japan. The castle was built by one of the most influential men in Japanese history,  the Shogun , Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa dynasty (1600 - 1868.) Nijo-jo was seen as both a statement of power and as a way of letting the Emperor (and the people) know who really ran the show. The Emperor's residence in Kyoto paled by comparison. Nijo-jo was actually the second home of the Shogun whose military dictatorship was based in Edo (Tokyo.) The castle is ornamented with spectacular paintings and is home to the famous "nightingale" floors that let out a more or less melodious squeek warning the guards of intruders. The garden is just as showy as the villa, especially the exuberant rock-work around the pond which looks very much like a Chinese landscape painting depicting a mountain range.

A guard tower, the moat, and sloping walls of Nijo-jo castle.


A visitor scoping out the pond (and its tasty koi.)


A slightly wider view.


Rock work along the edge of the pond with ancient sago palms.


Closer view of the rocks with a waterfall beyond.


Stone bridges lead to islands in the pond.


The view from one of the watch tower platforms with cherry trees and plums in bloom.


Looking out over the villa with the city beyond.


A "shoin" pavilion on the grounds of the castle.

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