I’m big in Japan: Nijō Castle (2005 May 15)

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Our first full day in Kyoto was mostly planned for us; while the city would be putting on its festival, we would be on a tour to Nara Park and other points of interest in and around the city. For breakfast, we decided to stop at Sazuya, a bakery near the hotel; they served a wide variety of breads and baked goods – melon breads, breads with bacon intertwined in it, and standards like croissants. We picked up a small assortment and some juice for 588¥. It made for a tasty, filling breakfast that was significantly cheaper than our Tokyo breakfasts.

We had to walk to another hotel to meet up with the tour bus; our tour guide was an older gent who spoke English quite well. Our first stop of the tour was Nijō Castle, the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was a sizable complex with a set of beautiful gardens.

While the outer wall and defenses were impressive, the inner defenses were also impressive and clever. The outer corridors of the palace were constructed as nightingale floors to ensure no one could sneak about without being heard. They had the various rooms setup inside the palace to show what life was like back then; there were many tapestries and screen paintings I wish I could have photographed. However, due to their age and historical significance, photography was forbidden.

Our tour was off to an enjoyable and educational start; our next stop would be Kitano Tenmangu.