Microcastle

25 01 2009

Nijo Castle garden, Kyoto, 1/22/2004

On Thursday I walked from my apartment to Nijo Castle. It was a little rainy, but I think I got some halfway decent pictures. Above is one of the gardens strewn across the Nijo grounds. The castle’s design is based on gardens and small houses surrounding the more important middle sections, where the Imperial Cabinet once ruled from. Constructed by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the castle features a number of clever methods of controlling people on its grounds, from the concentric design mentioned before that separates the exterior and interior handily to devices such as the Nightingale Floors, which were specially designed to squeak when stepped on to warn castle dwellers when someone was approaching.

One of the gates seperate the outer Nijo areas from the castle's innards.

One of the gates separating the outer Nijo areas from the castle's innards.

Unfortunately, pictures weren’t allowed inside the castle for fear of damaging the paintings inside. There were several stunning, centuries-old paintings inside created by the finest painters of the time. There were also several exhibits showing what a typical meeting with the Shogun of the period would look like. Especially interesting were the large, red tasseled doors, which supposedly marked where bodyguards lied in wait. The Shogunate, through use of population control strategies such as the gates and the marked bodyguard location employed blunt intimidation in lieu of the subtlety that was more prevalent in the period.

Grounds view of Nijo 1, Kyoto, 1/22/2009

A couple of view of the exterior grounds of Nijo Castle.

A couple of views of the exterior grounds of Nijo Castle.

Nijo’s accoutrements were not solely of a military bent, however. Several large gardens dot the grounds, including what must be a fabulous field of cherry trees when it is not the middle of Winter and they’re all dead.

I probably should have waited until Spring.

I probably should have waited until Spring.

But despite the low chlorophyll levels there were several impressive sites, including the interior waterfall and pond area with the unusual tree seen at the start of my post.

Nijo interior garden, Kyoto, 1/22/2009

Definitely one of the weirder trees I've seen in Japan- it doesn't really seem to fit in with its surroundings. Anybody have any idea what it is?

Definitely one of the weirder trees I've seen in Japan- it doesn't really seem to fit in with its surroundings. Anybody have any idea what it is?

There were also several impressively festooned gates.

Nijo gate 1, Kyoto, 1/22/2009Nijo gate 2, Kyoto, 1/22/2009Nijo gate 3, Kyoto, 1/22/2009

That's enough gates for one day.

That's enough gates for one day.

I have to admit that the actual buildings inside the compound were not particularly impressive from the outside.

I suppose your impressions may vary.

I suppose your impressions may vary.

So that’s Nijo. It was a little rainy, and I almost died going down the high-ass steps from some of the tower areas (for being historically known as small people, the Japanese sure had some ridiculously tall steps in their stairs), but I suppose it was worth my 600 yen, which with the conversion rate now is something like five thousand dollars. Next time, hopefully: a record of the many convenience stores littering the streets of Kyoto.

A preview of what's to come. Get pumped.

A preview of what's to come. Get pumped.

Music I’m Listening to Now: “I Need A Life”, remix by Four Tet.

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