Nijo-jo | Castles of Kyoto

Nijo castle is one of Kyoto’s many UNESCO world heritage sites and is easily identifiable on any map due to its two moats surrounding the castle. It is often touted as one of Kyoto’s must see locations and is very popular, but surprisingly wasn’t crowded at all when I visited.

Nijo Castle can be divided into two areas, the Honmaru and the Ninomaru. Even the interior of the Ninomaru castle is accessible to the public! The castle is also extremely foreigner friendly and there are English audio guides as well as English descriptions of the paintings and murals.

Photography is not allowed in the interior of the castle though, as the murals and paintings are very old and sensitive. It’s extremely lavishly designed with elaborate carvings, and even the ceiling is decorated with gold leaf! I found it really interesting how the exterior could fool one into thinking that this is a simple and non-fancy castle.

It’s always very interesting to see people’s interpretations of the world at a time when access to information was virtually non-existent, and the castle gives a fantastic insight into their interpretations of foreign animals, depictions of wars and the environment around them.

Unfortunately, the interior of the Honmaru castle is not accessible to the public, but the surrounding gardens are! It was a nice place to just take a stroll and enjoy watching the koi and ducks swimming in the moat. The gardens are pretty big and you could easily spend an hour looking around.

Nijo castle may not look as impressive as some other castles at first glance but it has a wonderful charm to it. Instead of grand buildings, the castle offers beautifully and intricately designed interiors which bear testament to the power of the shogun at the time. The gardens are simple, but elegant and it’s not hard to see why Nijo castle is one of Kyoto’s must see attractions.

Useful Information

Entrance fee:

  • General Admission: ¥620 (castle grounds); ¥1,030 (castle grounds and Ninomaru Palace)
  • Junior High School, High School Students: ¥350 (castle grounds and Ninomaru Palace)
  • Primary School Students: ¥200 (castle grounds and Ninomaru Palace)

English auditory guides available: ¥520

Check their opening hours on their official website


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