Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Shogun was a title given to the commander and chief/military dictator of Japan. The Shogun period spanned from 800 to 1867 AD.
While appointed by the Emperor, the Shogun served as the actual ruler of Japan with the Emperor serving as more of a ceremonial and spiritual leader. Real power was returned to the Emperor in 1867 as part of Meiji Revolution.
The castle’s exterior wall, surrounded by a moat, represents the first line of defense. Once inside the castle, there is a secondary circle of defense known as the Ninomaru. The Karamon Gate serves as the entrance to the Ninomaru.
The main feature of the Ninomaru is the Ninomaru Palace which served as the shogun’s residence when visiting Kyoto.
After the fall of the shogun and return of power to the Emporer, Nijo Castle was turned over to the city of Kyoto and later opened up for public access. The castle was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994 and serves as an excellent example of castle palace architecture from Japan’s feudal era.
My trip to Kyoto, Japan was filled with visits to incredible temples, gardens, and historic sites. Even the more routine parts of the day were filled with interesting moments.
These are a few things that caught my eye during day-to-day moments around Kyoto. There were also a few distinctive mannerisms of the Japanese that stood out in day-to-day interactions.
They are very polite and gracious. Who knows what they are thinking, but as someone who also prefers to behave in a polite manner, it felt comfortable.
Japan is very clean. Garbage cans in public areas were hard to find but there was no litter. You keep your trash and dispose of it at home.
People don’t walk around with food or coffee in their hands.
It is rare to hear a car horn, and I loved that!
Restrooms rarely had paper towels at the sink or garbage cans. I observed Japanese men and they had handkerchiefs with them for this purpose.
Taxi drivers wore white cotton gloves.
It was considered improper to place money directly in someone’s hand. Money was always exchanged using a tray that was passed back and forth.
Seafood is common for breakfast. Grits and biscuits with gravy were not.
Hope you had a few chuckles with this one. And, just to be clear, I am in no way poking fun at or trying to disparage Japanese culture. I am only pointing out some differences that stood out to me as an American. Not worse, not better…only different. I loved my trip to Japan and look forward to returning again to immerse myself deeper into the culture.