Visiting the Nijo Castle in Kyoto

Nine days since my arrival at the land of the rising sun, I was still jet-lagged! Honestly, I am not sure anymore if it was jet-lag, or if it was just tiredness forcing me to sleep earlier and therefore waking up earlier as well. Again, 6:30 and I was wide awake! I did my morning routine, and then I went to the living room to take a look at my still unplanned days. The transportation was mostly the issue, I wanted something central that I could take a option B and that I still had chance to do what I wanted to do. Though, the Nijo Castle was one of my priorities in Kyoto to visit!

Planning the last days

By a friend’s recommendation, I really wanted to see the 48 waterfalls of Akame, so basically, another hiking day with a lot of photography. Getting there was a bit tricky, I had to take a train that was not covered by the JR Pass, a bus from the middle of nowhere to nowhere land and then the hike that normally would take about 4 hours.

Considering that I would spend a lot of time taking photos, I was already planning to spend around 8 hours there (yep, a bit too much I know). So, for all of this, I needed to stay overnight somewhere that I could have an alternative plan and not too far from the waterfalls.

Gardens @ Nijo Castle
Gardens @ Nijo Castle

Initially I considered Iga because of the Ninja Museum, but finding online accommodation there wasn’t easy and I was not up to take the chance to go to the middle of nowhere without a place to stay (maybe if I had more than two weeks around, I would do it). So, Osaka was the place! A lot to see there, and 1 hour away from the train stop near the waterfalls.

Nijo Castle

With all of that considered, it was time to enjoy my last day in Kyoto! First thing to see was the Nijo Castle, another World Heritage Site in Kyoto, the castle of the Tokugawa Shoguns. One of the main characteristics of the castle is the Nightingale floor, basically an alarm system against intruders.

Visiting the Nijo Castle in Kyoto
Visiting the Nijo Castle in Kyoto

Walking through those corridors while hearing the chirping everywhere is really amazing! Myth or not, some say that this was a defense mechanism against the ninjas, the corridor is quite wide and around the palace, so I bet it was quite hard to pass through it undetectable.

I have to say, when I got there I was a bit disappointed with what I saw, the entrance isn’t appealing, and until I got inside the palace I was a bit bored, but Nijo Castle is definitely one must-visit place in Kyoto! The palace is fantastic, the old paintings really beautiful, and you really can feel history while walking through the corridors.

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For me, everything was so amazing! A pity that it was a rainy day, walking through the gardens wasn’t that pleasant, and it is an amazing place! But to be enjoyed on a sunny day… I got totally soaked while trying to take photos, the rain drops on tree leaves are fantastic! And I could really see that Autumn was really close, some golden colors already.

And since being soaked is not much fun either, I went to the lounge area to dry a bit, and on the way I saw another Japanese wedding! After drying out, more temples to see! And a very wet day ahead…

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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