Nijo Castle (Ninomaru-goten,location,history)

Nijo Castle, Ninomaru-goten

The information about Nijo Castle (Nijo-jo Castle) is presented here. Nijo Castle was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1994 as a “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)”. At Nijo Castle, Tenshu-kaku (keep tower) was completed around 1626, but was destroyed by lightning in 1750 and only the base of the keep remained without being rebuilt. Tenshu-kaku (five-story keep tower) was climbed by the 108th Emperor Go-Mizunoo when he visited Nijo Castle in 1626, and is said to be the only Tenshu-kaku that the emperor climbed.

【Nijo Castle Location Map & Directions】

Address: 541 Nijo-jo-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Nijojo-mae bus stop (about 2 minutes on foot), Subway Nijojo-mae Station (about 5 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 8:45-16:00 (closing time: 17:00), (Ninomaru-goten: 8:45-16:10)
Closed: December 29th-31st, (Ninomaru-goten: Every Tuesday in January, July, August, and December, January 1st-3rd, and December 26th-28th)

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Adults 1,300 yen, High School and Junior High Students 400 yen, Elementary School Students 300 yen

【Nijo Castle History】

The site where Nijo Castle (Nijo-jo Castle, 二条城) was built was part of the Shinsen-en Garden, which was a forbidden garden of the Heian-kyo. Nijo Castle was built in May 1601 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo shogunate, to protect the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the residence of the emperor, and to house the shogun. The Kyoto Shoshidai, Itakura Katsushige, was the Zoei-Sobugyo (magistrate), and the carpenter, Nakai Masakiyo, was the Sakuji, and the cost and labor were allocated to the Doimyo of the western regions. By the way, Tokugawa Ieyasu won the Sekigahara-no-tatakai (Battle of Sekigahara) in 1600, which was called “Tenka-wakeme-no-tatakai”, became the first shogun of the Edo shogunate in 1603, handed over the shogunate to his son Tokugawa Hidetada in 1605, destroyed the Toyotomi clan in the Osaka-no-jin (Battle of Osaka) in 1615, and laid the foundation for the Tokugawa regime that lasted for over 250 years. Construction of Ninomaru-goten (palace) and Tenshu-kaku (keep tower) began in May 1602, Ninomaru-goten was completed in March 1603, and Tenshu-kaku was completed in 1606. Tokugawa Ieyasu received the shogun’s proclamation at Fushimi Castle on February 12th, 1603, entered Nijo Castle on March 12th, held the haiga-no-rei (worship ceremony) at the imperial palace on March 25th, and held the shukuga-no-gi (celebration ceremony), to which his chief retainers and court nobles were invited on March 27th. In 1611, Tokugawa Ieyasu met with Toyotomi Hideyori, son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and husband of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s granddaughter, at Ninomaru-goten. It is also said that Tokugawa Ieyasu decided to destroy the Toyotomi clan at that time. During the Osaka-fuyu-no-jin (winter) in 1614 and the Osaka-natsu-no-jin (summer) in 1615, the shogunate army held a military council at Nijo Castle and left for Osaka, and the Toyotomi clan was destroyed in 1615. In 1619, Nijo Castle was reconstructed to allow Tokugawa Ieyasu’s granddaughter, Tokugawa Masako, the fifth daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shogun of the Edo shogunate, to marry the 108th Emperor Go-Mizunoo. In 1624, Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Edo shogunate undertook extensive renovations and additions to Nijo Castle to accommodate Emperor Gosui’s visit, and completing Honmaru, Ninomaru, and Tenshu-kaku (keep tower). Gyoko-goten (palace) was also built, but was moved after the emperor’s visit. In 1626, Hidetada Tokugawa and Tokugawa Iemitsu came to Kyoto from Edo (Tokyo), and Emperor Go-Mizuo and his wife, Tokugawa Masako, went to Nijo Castle, where they stayed for five days. Noh, waka, and kemari performances were held.In 1634, Tokugawa Iemitsu entered Nijo Castle with a large army of about 307,000 men. In 1750, Tenshu-kaku (five-story keep tower) was destroyed by lightning. In 1788, Honmaru and other buildings were destroyed by the Tenmei-no-taika (Great Tenmei Fire). In 1860, Goten (palace) and other buildings were damaged by the Kyoto earthquake. In 1863, Tokugawa Iemochi, the 14th shogun of the Edo shogunate, entered Nijo Castle for the first time in about 230 years since Tokugawa Iemitsu entered the castle in 1634. In 1866, Tokugawa Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the 15th shogun of the Edo shogunate, entered Nijo Castle to receive the proclamation of his appointment as shogun and became the 15th and last shogun. In 1867, Tokugawa Yoshiyoshi gathered the important retainers of the Doimyo at Ninomaru-goten and announced his intention to Taisei-Hokan (return of government). On October 13th of the same year, Tokugawa Yoshinobu heard the opinions of the retainers of the Doimyo, and on the 14th of the same month, Tokugawa Yoshiyoshi offered to return the government to the Imperial Court, which was approved by the Imperial Court on the 15th of the same month. In 1868, the Dajokan-dai was established at Nijo Castle, and in 1871, the Prefectural Office was established at Ninomaru-goten. In 1884, Nijo Castle became the second residence of the imperial family, Nijo Rikyu. In 1915, the enthronement ceremony of the 123rd Emperor Taisho was held at the Shishinden of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and then a banquet was held in the Dai-kyoenjo built in Nijo Castle. In 1939, Nijo Rikyu (Nijo Castle) was donated to Kyoto City and opened to the public as Nijo Castle on February 11th, 1940.
*reference・・・Nijo Castle website

【Nijo Castle Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Ninomaru-goten (二の丸御殿, National Treasure) was built in 1603. Ninomaru-goten is surrounded by Tsukiji-bei (wall) and covers an area of about 3,300 square meters (about 1,000 tsubo). In Ninomaru-goten, Kurumayose, Toyama Samurai, Shikidai, Oohall, Sotetsu no Ma, Kuroshoin, and Shiroshoin are arranged diagonally.
★Ninomaru Garden (二の丸庭園, Special Place of Scenic Beauty) was created between 1602 and 1603 by Kobori Enshu, a daimyo (feudal lord), tea master, and gardener. Ninomaru Garden is a walking garden with a pond, and in the pond are the islands of Horai-jima, Kame-jima, and Tsuru-jima, and the stones of Kame and Tsuru islands are arranged to look like cranes and turtles from any angle.
★Kara-mon (Kara-mon Gate, 唐門, Important Cultural Property) was built between 1624 and 1626. Kara-mon is the main gate at the entrance to Ninomaru-goten. Kara-mon has colorful sculptures of peonies, butterflies, dragons, tigers, and hermit turtles.
二条城見どころ(Nijo Castle Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Kanoh-chakai (cherry blossom tea ceremony, 観桜茶会) is held every year on April 9th. Kano-chakai is conducted by Omote-Senke, one of the three Senke schools of tea ceremony. On clear days, there is a nodate-seki (outdoor tea ceremony seat) under the cherry trees.
★Shimin Sencha-no-kai (citizens’ sencha tea ceremony, 市民煎茶の会) is held every year in May. Shimin Sencha-no-kai is held by by six tea ceremony schools: Taizan-ryu, Zuihoan-ryu, Baisa-honryu, Ogawa-ryu, Tamagawa Enshu-ryu, and Kofu Sencha-reishiki. Sencha seats are set up in the Seiryuen Garden.
★Shimin Dai-chakai (citizens’ grand tea ceremony, 市民大茶会) is held every year from late October to early November. Shimin Dai-chakai is held by three tea ceremony schools, Omote-Senke, Ura-Senke, and Yabuuchi-ryu.
★Nijo-jo Matsuri (Nijo Castle Festival, 二条城まつり) is held every year in the fall. Nijo-jo Matsuri is held to let tourists and citizens know the charm of Nijo Castle, a World Heritage Site. Nijo-jo Matsuri includes various events such as Shimin Dai-chakai.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see plum blossoms (梅) is from mid-February to mid-March. About 130 plum trees are planted in the plum grove and in the castle grounds, including weeping plum trees, white plum trees, red plum trees, peach plum trees, and Genpei-Sakiwake plum trees with red and white flowers, and the scenery of plum trees and plum groves is said to be beautiful.
★The best time to see cherry blossoms (桜) is around early April. About 380 cherry trees of about 50 varieties, including Somei-Yoshino, Weeping Cherry, Sato-zakura, Yama-zakura, Fugenzo, Ukon, and Kanzan, are planted, and the cherry blossom scenery and the castle grounds are said to be beautiful. Nijo Castle is illuminated every year around the time of the cherry blossoms, and a special night viewing is held. (night illumination, 桜ライトアップ)
二条城桜ライトアップ (Nijo Castle night illumination)
★The best time to see autumn leaves (紅葉) is from mid-November to early December. Maple trees, ginkgo biloba, and cherry blossoms are planted in Ninomaru Garden, Honmaru Garden, Seiryu Garden, etc., and the scenery of the autumn leaves and the castle grounds is said to be beautiful.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-841-0096

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Nijo Castle is to go the south to Shinsen-en. Shinsen-en has a pond, and a walk around it might be a good idea. Although a little further away, the Kyoto Gyoen is located on the east side of Nijo Castle, and a leisurely walk in the Kyoto Gyoen is also a good idea. It is especially recommended during the cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Nijo Castle, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山