Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Nijo Jo

On Monday afternoon while I was in Kyoto I visited a shogun castle. Nijo Castle was built by Ieyasu Tokugawa, who was the first of a line of 15 Tokugawa shoguns to inhabit the castle. The fifteenth shogun restored sovreignty to the emporer of Japan in 1867. The following is found inscribed on the brass plaque at the castle.

Nijo Castle (Nijo Jo) was built by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603 for the defence of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and to serve as an official residence for visiting shoguns. It was greatly expanded and renovated in 1626. The present Ninomaru Palace, in the Ninomaru or secondary enclosure, essentially dates from that period. The former Katsura-no-miya Palace, built in 1847, was removed from its original site and rebuilt in Nijo Castle’s Honmaru or main enclosure.
The Ninomaru Palace is an excellent example of the buke shoin-zukuri of residential architecture. Its principal buildings, known as the Tozamurai, the Kuruma-yose, the Shikidai, the Ohiroma, the Sotestsu-no-ma, the Kuro Shoin, and the Shiro Shoin, are laid out in a diagonal configuration along the pond in the Ninomaru Garden. Each room inside these structures is distinguished by it own unique features, such as the height of its floor, the form of its ceiling, the details of its design, and so forth; and the rooms are magnificently adorned, each according to its intended use, with exquisitely painted walls and doors and with carved transoms, ornamental metal work, nail head coverings, and so forth.

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