This is the Kyoto residence of the first shogun of the Edo Period, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Construction began in 1601 and was completed 25 years later by Ieyasu’s grandson, Iemitsu. He also added a five-story keep to the castle. In 1867 the very last Tokugawa shogun resided here and reigned under Emperor Meiji.
After the shogun fell in 1867, the castle was used as an imperial palace until it was donated to the city and opened as a historical site. Nijo is the best surviving example of Japan’s feudal-era palace architecture and was designated at a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.
When you get to the Grand Chamber (Ohiroma Ichi-no-ma) of the castle, you’ll see mannequins staged to represent the feudal lords paying respects to the shogun. While roaming around the castle, listen for the bird-like sounds that result when you walk amongst the floors. These are known as “nightingale floors” and were installed to warn of possible intruders.
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