Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nijo Castle

I'm back with part 4--we're on part 4 right?--of the Kyoto pictures. I meant to update here yesterday but didn't get the chance. So let's go. Today's pictures are all from Nijo Castle, which is not at all like European castles that are really tall and made of stone. This one is a meandering single-story complex made of wood and has an extensive garden. It was built in the 1600s by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was a Big Dude in Japanese History. K, so I don't think he personally built it, but he's the one who signed the orders to start construction. From my exhaustive research on Wikipedia, it looks like none of the buildings are the original ones from way back then due to several fires. Our guide told us that the kitchens are in a building set apart from the rest of the complex due to the risk of fire, but that didn't stop at least two fires from remodeling the complex.

Anyway, here's the Karamon gate, one of the entrances to the complex:

The guide book says it's in Chinese style, which I can see. Honestly I sometimes have trouble telling the difference, but then again, Japan has imported a lot from China, not the least of which is their writing system and Buddhism. So there you go. Next up, I think this was one of the first buildings we saw.

Ok, so I'm not 100% sure that this picture was taken at Nijo Castle and not at the next place we went since it was on the little camera and we didn't take a whole lot of pictures with that one. But anyway, I thought it looked kind of neat. I *think* it's where visitors to the shogun checked in? Maybe I'm making that up :p

Of course I have no pictures of the inside of the building with all the neat wall paintings and such because you're not allowed to photograph anything inside. I can tell you that this is the place with the nightingale floors--the floors were constructed so that when you step on them, they squeak. On purpose. It's a passive intruder detection system. Pretty ingenious, huh? Of course they squeaked a lot while we were there because there was more than one large tour group tromping through, and I think they sounded more like seagulls than nightingales. Admittedly, I don't know what a nightingale sounds like, but I do know what a seagull sounds like.

This wood carving was over the entrance to the castle. All our photos are of the Ninomaru palace; the main drawback to visiting with a tour group is that you're extremely limited on time, so we couldn't explore all of the grounds and buildings. But anyway, back to the carving:

The colors are kind of faded, but it's got peacocks, other birds, and flowers on it. And it actually looks almost identical to the photo in our guidebook so at least we don't just suck at taking pictures if they couldn't get a more vivid one.

Next up are several shots of the outside of the building because I couldn't pick a favorite.

That carving from the previous picture is in the entrance in the lower right corner of this photo, but it's dark enough that you can't really see any details on this shot. But now you can see where it fits in on the building, huh?

This was one of Lee's favorite pictures, it's got some great color. See the sixteen-petal chrysanthemum on the left? That means that the building belongs the the imperial family, it's their crest. The last Tokugawa shogun resigned in 1867, giving up his power to the emperor, so they changed the crest on the building to the imperial chrysanthemum at that time. The Tokugawa crest was a hollyhock.

And another view, taken from near the gardens. See why I couldn't pick a favorite? ;) Oh yeah, gardens!

It seems like every pond in Kyoto has special reflective powers, just look at that. Since we were so pressed for time, we only got to see just a little bit of the garden, but our guide assured us that it was the "best part" anyway. Hmph.

You can see that there's just the very beginnings of fall foliage in the garden. I bet this would be pretty spectacular in a couple of weeks when more of the leaves have turned. One last photo...

Yep, that's us in the Authentic Japanese Parking Lot. Hee! Do we look extra tall? Our guide kindly took the picture for us and we're a lot taller than she is. So that was Nijo Castle. There's also an imperial palace in Kyoto, but it was a holiday weekend for the Japanese when we were there (no they don't celebrate Columbus Day, but their holiday weekend happened to coincide with ours) so the palace was closed. Our neighbor told us that he thought the palace was skippable anyway, so we don't feel like we got cheated. Stay tuned for more Kyoto pics, coming as soon as I can manage :)


Giffysk8s said...

Yes, you two look TALL. LOL Glad you got a shot of you together. :)

LOVE the pic with the reflective pond. The colors are so pretty! Water surfaces and shots through tree branches are my fave. They add such interesting dimension.

I am really intrigued by all of the roofs~different designs, slants, materials, all very unusual.

CCsMom said...

Absolute COOLNESS.

Suffering from a little bit of a sunburn after sitting through a Baylor butt-kicking. (Oops!) This man dressed in Baylor garb sitting behind us said, "We were glad to have you. And I bet you were glad to have us." Beautiful day, though, and Adam and Adrienne really got into it -- so much so that a reporter for the newspaper came by and snapped their photo. Adam was wearing that jester cap I made him in high school -- Adrienne changed the "H" on it to an OSU patch. Pretty funny. Good to see all the Baylor Bears. Went around campus and it is absolutely gorgeous. I don't think you'd recognize it, it's changed THAT MUCH in the 7 years since you graduated. Absolutely incredible. Went by the apartment where you and Lee met and gave your regards.

Have a great week. Love ya! Mom

Thoughts by B and M said...

The Kyoto Imperial Palace was one of my favorite stops! I'm sorry you all had to miss it - the garden there was BEAUTIFUL! Oh well - glad you liked NiJo Castle too!