Japan Travel

Japan Day 10: A Visit To Nijo Castle Before Flying Home

Japan Nijo Castle Japan Airlines

See My Full Itinerary For 10 Days In Japan


I woke up on our final day in Japan at the crack of dawn, glued to the sheets of a hotel bed and wishing this trip could go on forever. Flying home is always the bittersweet rollercoaster of emotions that comes at the end of every journey in life. Having spent my vacation time over the past four years on treks and outdoor adventures, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d adjust to a city based holiday. After ten days in Japan, I knew in my heart that this trip was the perfect adventure for the circumstances. Initially, Julia and I had planned on going to Patagonia to hike the W circuit. As life would have it, she became pregnant just before we booked our tickets. With the scare of the Zika virus buzzing through the news, we decided it wasn’t a good idea to take a chance. For a pregnant women, Japan turned out to be the perfect country to vacation in. The bathrooms are clean and plentiful, the food is prepared to perfection, and the people are incredibly kind and gracious. On top of all that, the culture, sites, and landscapes have a history and feel like nothing I had ever seen before. With the feelings of gratitude and appreciation from our time spent in Japan roiling to a crescendo, we left our hotel to grab one final breakfast and see our final site in Kyoto, the historic Nijo Castle.


Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
Nijo Castle Entrance Through Karamon Gate

Nijo Castle was built as the residence of the first shogun of the Edo period in 1603. The castle is divided into three sections, with a primary circle of defense, a secondary circle of defense, and a circle of gardens that encapsulate both. Our visit started on the east side after passing through the Karamon Gate and into the secondary circle of defense. The main attraction of Ninomaru Palace is located right when visitors pass through the Karamon Gate. The palace is in excellent condition, and for the most part, in it’s original form. The complex of painted rooms with tatami mats was like walking back in time. One of the rooms had mannequin characters to display what a meeting would look like when the shogun met with his feudal lords. The cedar plank floors creaked with every step. This is something that usually connotes age and maturation in a building, but it’s intentional in the palace, devised as an extra security measure. One of my favorite elements in Japanese architecture, especially in this feudal era, is the use of expanding spaces through the use of simple sliding doors. My favorite room was painted from left to right and illustrated the path of life through the four seasons.


Nijo Castle Japan Kyoto
Ninomaru Palace

After visiting Ninomaru Palace, we made our way outside to walk through the Ninomaru Garden.


Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
Ninomaru Garden

From Ninomaru Garden we made our way out of the secondary defense circle and into the primary defense circle. There are a series of beautiful gardens in this primary defense circle, as well as stairs to climb the foundation of the former castle keep.


Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
To The Outer Walls
Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
The Moat
Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
Views From The Keep
Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
Castle Walls

I was amazed at how much open green space there was within the castle walls. Although we just missed full cherry blossom season, we did get to see a few trees in bloom.


Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
Green And Blue
Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
Baby Blossoms

As the time grew closer to noon, Julia and I had to make our way back to the hotel to check out. It was difficult to know that this was the last thing we’d get to explore in Japan, but we couldn’t have asked for a better place to end things. In my years of travel and exploration, I try not to visit a place I’ve already been. I’m going to have to make an exception for Japan. This country captured my heart. I consider this trip a primer, a walkthrough to see what is possible. There is so much yet to be explored, and I can’t wait to come back to see it all.


Nijo Castle Kyoto Japan
Flying Home

I’m Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

9 comments on “Japan Day 10: A Visit To Nijo Castle Before Flying Home

  1. I liked the Ninomaru Garden picture. What are the 3 straw trees on the side? Naturally grown or man-made?

  2. do you have any pic of the interior?

  3. *( Me perdoe) Pensamento do dia.*

    *De everson campos*

    *19/5/2016*

    *Quando duas pessoas opostas,*

    *trocam laços afetivos em comum*

    *… Fecha-se em copas…*

    *Evitando um relacionamento a mais, *

    *com terceiros*

    *… O suposto ciúme!*

    *Causa disse é…*

    * Temer a suposto desconhecido, um deus.*

    *A submissão a um santo omisso (Jesus) *

    *que é fruto de uma fantasiosa ilusão (religiosa)*

    *E a determinação infinita,*

    *de um espaço constituindo um universo*

    *Esse que se transforma, violando regras,*

    *estabelecendo variáveis mundos em corpos celeste,*

    *como estrelas, planetas e vidas,*

    *provinda do nada.*

    *Diante disso…*

    *Nós não podemos nos apaixonar por aqueles *

    *que nos rodeiam e nos amam.*

    *Peço então (perdão)! *

  4. Britanica

    I have to give you a lot of credit. For a 10 day trip you made the absolute most of it. I think that I would have ended up missing out on something due to sheer laziness. haha I really enjoyed reading through this and being able to connect to the places you did. Thank you again for sharing it.

  5. Matilda Wurescsnky

    Waoh… What an intense 10 days this is. I can relate with your feelings of nostalgia after an exhilarating experience when you know it’s all coming to an end. The feeling to hanging in there but we all know we must get back to our normal life.

    Thank you Drew for sharing. Have you been able to get back to Japan since then?

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