Nijoujou Castle, Sanjuusangendo, and Kiyomizu

Nijoujou ("Nijo-jo" "Nijo Castle")

(That last "jou" of "Nijoujou" means "castle") This is the castle from where the Tokugawa Shogunate ran Japan for roughly a couple hundred years, til the Meiji Restoration. The transitions of Tokugawa power were pretty much finalized here - both beginning and end (see this website).

This is a huge complex of buildings surrounded by various walls and moats (filled with koi) and whatnot. It's fairly close to Kyoto Station, near the heart of Kyoto.

The main Nijo-jo hall.
The outer hallway floors
squeak and chirp like birds
when walked on, preventing
sneak attacks ("nightingale floor").

A grade(?) school group arrives

Part of the Nijoujou garden

Steps up to what used to be a guard(?) tower.

View from the "battlement"

The tiny leaves of a maple tree
on the castle grounds.
(Had to use the flash since it was overcast.)

One of the castle walls, overlooking an inner moat.

A Zen rock garden-like
setting on the castle grounds

A stone water basin on castle grounds.

The guard at the entrance to the
Nijoujou front gate's upper room.
Wooden steps for tourists were
added so they could get up to the doorway.
Is that Kilroy peeking over the guy's shoulder?

The Nijoujou front gate
where you can see the windows to
the upper room (open to the paying public
when I went, but not usually so).


This old temple is also very very wide, as it houses 1001 gold-covered (but wooden) statues of the Buddhist deity Kannon, each one different. At the center sits a massive statue of the Buddha, and tourists and the faithful can buy items or light candles or otherwise donate money as they come before the Buddha statue.

Of course, no photography is allowed inside, so find some nice photos on the web!

A spring said to cure nighttime crying
in children. A monk at the temple is said
to have a dream directing him to dig
at this location (a long time ago).

The technical "front" of the
very wide main temple, where the golden Buddha sits.
Visitors enter from the side, however.

Sun-lit clouds.
These weren't quite over the temple grounds,
but close enough....


This is a large complex of temple buildings perched on a hillside. Some of the buildings are built on a heavy-duty, multi-story wooden matrix frame, since they stick out from the actual side of the hill. However, as I went at night, I (and you) couldn't really see that. Oh well.

There is a sacred spring that flows out from the hill and is channeled in rivulets over a small rooftop, and visitors get cups on long poles and reach out and get some. Drinking it is supposed to purify the soul (I think - might not be remembering right - might just be good health, disease curing, and good luck (etc.)).

The way up to the temple is a very crowded tourist lane with brightly lit shops stuffed full of exquisite items ranging from pottery, to souvenir keychains, to Asian-style fans. They seem so much a part of the long journey uphill to Kiyomizu that I left them in this section.

Street on way to Kiyomizu

Buildings just up from the street.

Sky over Kyoto as seen from Kiyomizu.
I knew I was missing my chance to
see Kiyomizu in the last ounces of daylight, but
I just had to take a few of these photos.

Kyoto lighting up
under the twilight sky.

People getting Kiyomizu water
in the dark.

Another view
of people getting the water.

Night shot of the 5-story tower
at Kiyomizu.

A earthenware shop on the way down
from the temple complex.
Note price on nearest item is nearly

A fan/umbrella/etc. shop near Kiyomizu.

(See also the General Kyoto page for more scenes from this area.)

Back to Rei's Japan 2003 Photo Index

All Photos Copyright 2003 Eri Izawa