Nijo Castle - Kyoto

Located at 541 Nijojocho Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City in Kyoto Prefecture, Nijo Castle (二条城) is one of the 17 and the only non-temple UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kyoto City.

Nijo Castle (二条城)

Nijo Castle History

Nijo Castle or Nijo-jo is a flatland castle that was constructed under the orders of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Construction started sometime in 1601 and was completed in 1603. The castle served as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shoguns since Kyoto remains home to the Imperial Court during those times.  

Kyoto Castle, 二条城
Nijo Castle - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Tokugawa Ieyasu

Nijo Castle underwent a large-scale renovation in 1624 during the time of Ieyasu's grandson, Tokugawa Yoshinobu in preparation for the Imperial visit of Emperor Go-Mizuno in 1626. For this event, the Gyoko-goten Palace was constructed for the Emperor. The castle was also expanded to its current size. Stunning wall paintings were also created by painters of the Kano School. After the Imperial visit, the Gyoko-goten Palace and several other buildings were dismantled. 

Higashi Otemon (East Gate)

Karamon going to Nijo Castle

Karamon as seen from the Nijo Castle

Ninomaru Palace (Nijo Castle)

Sadly, the Inner Ward was destroyed by a citywide fire in 1788. The site remained empty for almost 100 years. It was then replaced by a prince's residence that was transferred from the Kyoto Imperial Palace in 1893. 

Check out these large bells

The Ninomaru Palace in the Outer Ward served as the location for Tokugawa Yoshinobu's historic declaration of returning the authority to the Imperial court of Emperor Meiji in 1867. A year after the declaration, the palace became imperial property and was declared a detached palace. 

Gate to Ninomaru Garden

Ninomaru Garden

Ninomaru Garden Pond


Another view of the pond from the palace

Almost a century later, Nijo Castle was donated to the city of Kyoto in 1939 and opened to the public a year later. Presently, the castle consists of two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, ruins of the Honmaru Palace, several gardens, and various support buildings. Overall, the castle vicinity has a surface area of 27.5 hectares, 8,000 square meters of which are occupied by buildings. 

Speaking of buildings and gardens here are some of the must-see things in Nijo Castle:

Ella enjoying our garden stroll

The Admin office (Audio tour rental)

UNESCO World Heritage Site Marker

We got to visit Nijo Castle on the 6th day of our 2018 Japan Trip.

Overall, what I liked most about Nijo Castle was the interior of the Ninomaru-goten Palace. Its walls are covered with over 3,600 wall paintings which clearly is a work of art. Sadly, it was prohibited to take photos and videos inside the castle hence I was not able to document it. Aside from the walls, the floors in the castle are also something that would pique your curiosity as you'd wonder how it creates a sound similar to that of a Japanese nightingale when stepped on (hence the name Nightingale Corridor)

Nijo Castle Admission Fee:

My family and I got to visit Nijo Castle during our third day in Kyoto. It's the second of the 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites that we have visited that day. Just a reminder though, in order for one to enter the castle complex, he/she must pay an entrance fee which is as follows:
Y600 for adults

Y350 for high school students
Y200 for elementary students

Ticket booth outside the Nijo Castle

Got our tickets to enter Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle Opening Hours:

Nijo Castle opens at 8:45 - 4PM every day.

Why visit Nijo Castle?

If you love Japanese castles, then Nijo Castle is something you should include in your itinerary. It's very different from your typical Japanese castle architecture. Aside from that, it's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site which makes it something really worth seeing. 

Getting to Nijo Castle:

From Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Subway Line to Karasuma-Oike Station and transfer to the Tozai Line to Nijojo-mae Station.  From there, the entrance to the castle is only a few meters walk away. The whole trip takes about 15 minutes and costs 260 yen.

Overall rating


  1. Do you have travel agency when you did travel to Japan? Is it sponsored?
    Good to see you always active in travel blogs. :) Keep it up Sir Neil!

    1. Hi there! Our Japan trip was a Do It Yourself (DIY) type of travel. We had to research about places we wanted to visit and adjusted based on the need. =)

      Thank you for visiting my blog.

  2. I have traveled to Japan before, but didn't get the opportunity to see Kyoto. This temple looks amazing! I can imagine how wonderful the inside is, just by the gorgeous exterior, and the surrounding area.

    1. This one is a castle. =) You should check this out next time you visit Japan.

  3. Stunning location, especially the pond. Thank you for these beautiful photos!

    1. You're welcome Jill. Thank you for visiting my blog.

  4. Love ur detailed reviews as always. And they are always accompanied by great pictures.

    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving a nice comment on my blog. =)

  5. I read that you DIY when you were planning. Do you feel that it was more beneficial for you or now do you feel that’s travel agency would have been more resourceful? I often wond r because I am planning a trip overseas soon and I worry that planning everything myself will not be the most beneficial for the trip.

    1. Hi Miranda. Yes I do DIY in my trips. What I love about DIY trips is that I don't have to worry about being left behind by the group. I could also adjust where I want to go plus go on side trips. Well if you're the traveler who does not want hassle in your trip you could always go book a tour with your trusted travel agency.

  6. It is a really nice and descriptive article and now I really want to get there. Nice pictures!

    Ben -

  7. I have been fortunate enough to visit here, a lovely place to see!

  8. Wow! This is a place that I would love to see someday!

  9. The place looks amazing, The entrance fee is OK for me.

  10. I would love to visit Japan on day, great article Neil. Keep posting articles like this.

  11. My dream is to one day visit Kyoto! Looks amazing!

  12. What a beautiful place to visit!! I was impressed that the castle is so old and it's holding up so well, despite the fire. What an impressive place!

    1. I agree tennismom. Nijo castle is really an impressive place. Given the chance, I'd visit it again.

  13. We visited this castle two years ago when we traveled around Japan. And it was incredible, this stop belongs between the highlight of our Japan :)

    1. Wow! I would love to read about your adventure in Japan and also see your photos. =)

  14. So pretty. This reminds me of japan pavillion in Epcot.

    1. Googled it. The one in Epcot reminds me of Daigoji temple.

  15. My husband has been talking about a trip to Japan for years. Maybe we should consider Kyoto in our travel!

    1. Kyoto City would be a perfect destination for first time visitors. =)

  16. I have long been a fan of your narratives and I religiously bookmark your posts. Next year, I am planning to go to Japan and it's also a DIY tour. I have been keeping notes I got from your blog. Thank you so much for posting.


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