難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

Kyoto Heat Wave- Nijo Castle

And so it was one blisteringly hot day somewhere around or over 100 degrees, that I made my way to Kyoto craving history.

I came to Nijo Castle.

 

When the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu seized the reins of Japan at the turn of the 17th century, he made no secret of his aim to create a new order.  Kyoto was the very symbol of the old order, and Ieyasu snubbed the former capital by moving his capital far out east to Edo (Tokyo), and moving the regional center of Kansai to Osaka.  Still, the lord evidently thought Kyoto to be of importance, because he built Nijo Castle on the west edge of the old city, as his residence for official visits.  The last Tokugawa shogun was staying there when he officially abdicated in 1867.

This was the official lordly palace. Pictures are forbidden inside, but it's full of amazing wall art from the leading artists and crafters of the age. There's an astonishing modernist abstraction to the decorations- geometric shapes strewn across a hazy background of waves and fog. Actually some of my favorite artwork is in that palace.

 

The palace gardens

 

This is the inner keep. The center castle tower used to stand here, but fire claimed it in the 18th century. Rather than restore the fortifications, the shogun simply had these elegantly simple buildings erected. Nijo Castle was truly a palace first, and a military base distant second.

 

The inner moat

 

I left the castle, shuffling slowly under the beating sun.  What happened next deserves its own post…

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