Nijo Castle

Continuing our exploration of Kyoto, we visited Nijo Castle. Built between 1601 and 1626, the castle was the residence and governing seat for the Tokugawa shōguns. The Tokugawa shogunate was the military government of Japan from 1603 to 1868, with the hereditary position of shogun, or “Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians“ being held by the head of the Tokugawa clan.

We were only allowed to take pictures of the surrounding gardens and outsides of the castles buildings, so unfortunately we can’t show you the interior of the Ninomaru Palace, which housed reception rooms, offices and the shōgun‘s living quarters, and is an absolute dream for admirers of wooden architecture, wood carving and Japanese mural paintings.

Please enjoy a few pics of the gardens surrounding Nijo Castle!

Nara Park

As our time in Australia was winding down, we started pricing plane fares back to the USA. On a whim, we started looking at the price of fares to places in between Sydney and San Francisco, thinking that it would be nice to break up a 14 hour flight into smaller hops. Interestingly enough, we found that the combined price of tickets from Sydney to Japan, then Japan to SFO were cheaper than a direct flight from Sydney to SFO!

Next stop … Kyoto, Japan!!

Nara Park, which is located a half an hour South of Kyoto by train, is one of the oldest parks in Japan, having been established in 1880. Besides being the location of a number of impressive Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, Nara Park is home to over 1,200 wild Sika Deer. Legend says that an enshrined Deity traveled from his home on a white deer to protect the Capital of Japan, Heijokyo, which was located in Nara back in the 8th century. The deer have been considered sacred ever since, and they freely roam everywhere in the park. They are also known as ‘bowing deer’ because of how they’ve learned to bow their heads when offered the deer cookies that are sold in the park for people to feed them.

We hope you’ll enjoy a gallery of photos taken from our day at Nara Park!