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On our first day in Kyoto, after a few hours strolling through NIshiki Market, we took a taxi and headed directly to Nijo Castle. One of the seventeen historical monuments in ancient Kyoto, Nijo Castle was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.
How to get to Nijo Castle Kyoto
From Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Subway Line to Karasuma-Oike Station and transfer to the Tozai Line to Nijojo-mae Station. The entrance of Nijo Castle is just a short walk from there. The whole trip takes about 15 minutes and costs 260 yen. Alternatively, the castle can be reached from Kyoto Station by Kyoto City Bus numbers 9, 50 or 101 (15-20 minutes, 230 yen one way). And of course, depending where you are coming from, taxi might be the fastest way to get there.
Nijo Castle hours, fees and budgeted time for visit
The castle is open from 8:45am to 5pm, with admission closing at 4pm. It is closed on Tuesdays in January, July, August and December, plus December 26 through January 4. Entrance fees (cash only) are 600 yen per adult, 350 yen for middle and high school students and 200 yen for elementary students. There is English audio guide available for 500 yen.
Nijo Castle can be divided into three areas: the Honmaru Palace, the Ninomaru Palace, various support buildings and the traditional Japanese gardens connecting the two palaces. The entire castle grounds and the Honmaru are surrounded by stone walls and moats.
Unlike Ninomaru Palace, Honmaru Palace is not regularly open to visitors. There are four parts in the complex, living quarters, reception and entertainment rooms, entrance halls and kitchen area, all connected by corridors and courtyards. The wood panels on the buildings were really quite impressive.
Besides its large Japanese gardens, the castle’s outdoor places is also populated by more than 400 cherry and plum trees of different varieties, as well as maple, ginkgo and other trees that offer brilliant colors during the fall season. Unfortunately, during our visit to Nijo Castle in February, there wasn’t much to see. So one hour was more than enough for us to walk through the castle leisurely. I imagine during the cherry blossom season or in the fall, the castle would look very different and much prettier. I will have to save it for a return trip in the future.
Have you ever visited Kyoto’s Nijo Castle? Leave your experience in the comments.