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Nijō Castle

During our last trip to Japan in December of 2007, we primarily stuck to the Tokyo area (except for a day trip to Hakonne). This time we’re exploring some other cities in the south. For example, today we took the bullet train down to Kyoto.

Boy is that sucker fast!

As a quick aside: I just recently read the good news that California will soon be getting it’s very own high-speed train from SD to SF/SAC. Good move Cali! Trains are for sure THE BEST way to travel.

As our health is starting to stabilize, we can start to resume normal sight seeing. So today’s place of interest was Nijō Castle. It’s a massive 275,000 square foot ancient palace smack dab in the middle of a bustling city. And it’s protected from invading city folk by a wide moat around the outer wall.

Once past the moat you can see that the palace is made up of two concentric rings of fortifications.

And inside the 2nd ring is Ninomaru Palace.

Photographs were not allowed inside of the palace, so you’ll just have to visit it yourself. But really quickly, a couple of cool facts…

  1. The palace is built with a floating floor and each and every floor board squeaks when pressure is applied. This squeaky design is on purpose in order to alert the residents of any intruders. These days however as tourists pass through it sounds like there are millions of little birds trapped beneath the floor.
  2. The shoguns of the Tokugawa family instructed all of the feudal lords from Western Japan to help build the castle, hence uniting much of Japan.

The rest of the castle ground are filled with various other buildings, and some amazing postcard-like gardens

Quite a magnificent piece of land. It’s no wonder it’s an UNESCO World Heritage site.

As my energy levels were dropping below a safe operating range, it was time to call it a day and get in some rest to try and complete this recovery.

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