It was here,in 1867,in the Ninomaru Palace,where Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837 to 1913),the last Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan,... more » signed the declaration returning all authority to the Imperial Court,and what followed became known as the "Meiji Restoration".The following year the Imperial Cabinet was installed in the castle.
Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle) plays a small and more modern roll in Kyoto's history.From the end of the "Nara Period" (794), Kyoto has functioned at the crossroads of Japanese history. From it's beginnings as the Kunikyo and Nagaokakyo settlements, until the Emperor's move to Edo (modern day Tokyo),it was the Capitol of Japan for over 1,000-years.
It was in 1601, when Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 to 1616), the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, ordered all the feudal lords in Western Japan to contribute to the construction of Nijo-jo,and,25-years later,in 1626, the castle was finally completed. It's main purpose to be used as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogunate.Intended to impress visitors,the showy castle is more a Palace than a Fortress with defences designed for looks rather than combat.
In 1750 the Central Keep, or Donjon, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then, in 1788, the Inner Palace was destroyed by a city-wide fire. For the following 5-years the site remained empty until it was replaced by a Prince's residence, transferred from the Imperial Palace.
Nijo-jo is the fifth most popular destination, out of the fifty top destinations in Kyoto, so I would recommend an early start to your day if you want to get here before the hoards of tourists and sightseers arrive. less «