Our next stop on our busy tourist day was Nijo Castle. Which was undergoing some construction. After paying to get in, 600 yen, we went in Ninomaru palace which was a hauntingly beautiful experience. The castle was built in 1603. Ninomaru palace is where the shogun would live and work while in Kyoto. The corridors are Nightingale floors that squeak when stepped on as a precaution against intruders. It’s an intense sound as you wander around with other people, leaving your shoes at the entrance. The palace is old so I spent my entire time trying to step as gently as I could and move as slowly as possible, listening to the old building sing in it’s somewhat creepy yet lovely way, it sounded like strings- wire strings everywhere, as the boards beneath our feet creaked. No photos are allowed inside the palace, but throughout are little rooms with recreated art and paintings, information, and explanations on who would visit the shogun and where along with replica models of people dressed and bowing throughout the palace rooms.
After the palace we wandered through Ninomaru Garden, a Japanese traditional garden, which was also under going construction and was a lot less interesting. We also walked through the Honmaru gardens and up the castle keep to get a better view before heading on our way out. Nijo Castle is open from 8:45-5pm. While a lot of it wasn’t too interesting to me the Ninomaru castle and it’s nightingale floors are an experience I’m glad I was able to have. I’ve never been in a building that made such sounds or felt so old it seemed alive. You can also rent English audio guides for 500 yen, we didn’t have time to do this.