I have been looking for a good excuse to go to Nijo Castle since Nicky and I arrived in Kyoto, but wanted to make sure there would be more to do than just tour the grounds when we went (as that can get boring, and repetitive, especially since places like Nijo require an admission fee). Luckily, Nijo is celebrating the fall this year with an autumn fiesta- a festival that has lasted all month, with the main event being a falconry exhibit, as falconry is part of Nijo’s long history.
Nijo castle was built in the 1600s for the Tokugawa shoguns, because even though the shoguns at that time used Edo as the capital city, the Imperial family was still located in Kyoto.The castle itself is quite large, with several different complexes within. It is possible to walk through the palace interior, which is rare. Vistors can experience the famous “singing” floorboard system that used to be the anti-theft alarm of Medieval Japan, and gaze at restored mural paintings in nearly every room. Photography, of course, is not allowed.
The falconry exhibit itself was pretty fun. The falcons were quite beautiful, but many seemed excited, too excited, to perform. There was a younger bird in particular who actually escaped and flew away. Despite the trainers’ best attempts to bring the bird back, the falcon seemed to have found something of greater interest in the distance. Judging by the sheer amount of crows that began to circle the area, I can guess it was probably a nest of some sort.