Nijo Castle is the home of Shoguns. It is not a temple and thus provides an interesting contrast to the other fantastic centers to see in Kyoto. The moats, the rock walls and promontories all spoke to a different ethos. The self guided tour of the castle interior was okay not great; a bit shallow and repeititve but still better than nothing. The painted screens of the castle rooms were exemplary tho there's no chance of seeing them WELL due to lighting limits. You'll have to walk the wooden floors in socks, so bring slippers if it's cold.
Outside, the gardens are splendid - though not as great as some others (Silver pavilion, Tenryu-ji, etc)
Gift shop - kitschy but still some good finds there. We were impressed by a paper fan with the image of a pair of falcons derived from one of the golden screens in the castle. A good find.
A special advantage of Nijo Castle is its extreme closeness to one of the metro stops, which is a delight to anyone who's spent their feet walking too much in glorious Kyoto.
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