The whole complex is known at Nijo castle, within the outer walls there is the Ninomaru palace which is where the Shogun received anyone wanting to see him and his ministers and officials worked.
The palace actually consists of five buildings but they are all linked together so that it has been easy to create a round circuit passing most of the rooms. As in other buildings we have been in it is a wooden construction with panels forming walls between the rooms. Most of these panels have been beautifully painted and there is a lot of gold leaf on the panels. In some of the more important audience chambers there are also detailed carvings about the panelling. Also there were special areas behind some of the panelling where bodyguards were in hiding. Interestingly in one room where there was the figure of a shogun receiving guests the visitors all seemed to be wearing their swords!
After going round the palace we walked through the garden, the first area is the Ninomaru garden which is a typically Japanese garden with a pond, a tortoise island in it planted with trees and bushes. From this garden we then crossed the inner moat to the Hommaru which is an inner keep behind two fortifications. The buildings there are not open to the public but in one corner there was the foundation of a tower which gave a bit of a view, but the large trees detracted from seeing very much.
This post is an extract of my mother’s travel journal written during a tour of Japan in 2014.