Japan Day 3: Nijo Castle

After lunch near Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Cory and I caught another bus and went to Nijo Castle.

Walking through the gate - there's a moat!

The gate, from the inside

Our first stop: Ninomaru Palace

The above photo is the entrance/exit of Ninomaru Palace. You are not allowed to take pictures inside, and you have to take your shoes off in the entry way. They had slippers  you could wear to walk around inside – they came in medium (too big for me) and large (too small for Cory). It was actually quite chilly inside as well – pretty much the same temperature as it was outside.

The features of Ninomaru Palace are the wall paintings and the floors. Most of the rooms were empty, though there was usually a plaque describing what the room would have been used for. All of the rooms have the original paintings on the walls and sliding doors. Some of the rooms had scenes set up with mannequins  in period costumes as well.

The corridors that we were walking through (shuffling, really, in our ill-fitting slippers) have what they call  ‘nightingale floors.’ The idea being that no matter how softly a person treads, the floors squeak, so it would be impossible for an assassin to sneak up on the occupants of the castle. At first I wasn’t sure if I was actually hearing the floors – I had to ask Cory if that was what I was hearing – because it really did sound like birds singing outside.

After the palace, we went to the garden.

Even for March, it was impressive.

It was still quite cold out at this point, and there were snow flurries off and on. We were happy that we could operate our cameras while wearing gloves so at least our hands were warm.

There was a rest area with restrooms and vending machines (of course) and a place where we could sit down and rest our feet. It was still outdoors, so it wasn’t exactly warm, but it was out of the wind.

Then we continued  on and climbed to the top of these stairs, which was a nice high vantage point, but it was also windy and cold.

And this pretty much illustrates what the weather was like – it would start snowing…

…and then a few minutes later it would be bright and clear.

And it just kept flipping back and forth.

Back down at ground level, we continued on to the plum tree garden. People have asked us about how the cherry blossoms smelled, and I don’t remember smelling them at all. Anywhere that we encountered plum trees though, we smelled them – usually before we could even see them – and it was a really lovely fragrance.

After the plum trees, we decided it was time to move on to our last destination for the day, and we headed back to the bus stop.

View of street outside Nijo Castle in Kyoto

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