After our morning filled with food, we finally make it onto the subway and exit across the street from Nijo Castle where we’d attempted to walk to the day before in driving wind and rain.
Tip: we bought a 600 yen subway day pass. This is a good value because the least expensive trip is 210 yen so anything after 3 rides in a day is bonus.
Nijo castle is surrounded by high walls and betrays little of what lays inside. The castle complex was built by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in the late 16th century. Like most of the ancient structures we’ve seen, this is a series of wooden buildings set on elevated platforms connected by covered halls and walkways.
Inside, everything is serene and there are extensive gardens. The cherry blossoms are still in bloom here. The main buildings which were used for living and political functions are filled with beautiful murals as well as some odd life-size model reproductions of the shogun and his “people.”
After touring the living and administrative quarters of the shogun, we are approached by a group of school kids on a tour. They are from a town in the Southern part of the country and ask if they can interview us. They read questions to us from a sheet of paper, asking us how we like Japan, where we’ve traveled and when they find out David is a teacher they’re thrilled. We wish them well, tell them to keep practicing, and move on into the gardens.
School Kids at Nijo Castle, Kyoto, Japan
The gardens surrounding the castle are quite extensive, and include a very serene small lake and many pathways lined with cherry trees which are still filled with blossoms.
We wander through the gardens after touring the palace, and I’m now wishing I’d bought lunch in the depachica as there are places to sit along the way. Instead, we find ourselves outside the palace after lunchtime with no idea of where to go for something good to eat. Searching bento.com using my phone and the MiFi unfortunately yields nothing of interest in the immediate neighborhood.
We get back on the subway and then off again at one of the larger stations to see if we could find something inside the station. Unfortunately, this turns out to be an error in judgement and a waste of time. In the end, we buy a few sandwiches and some Crispy Creme donuts from shops inside the station (after wandering for 20 minutes in search of something better) and take them back to the hotel. While the egg salad sandwiches are actually pretty good, I am kicking myself for not getting something at the Daimaru Depachicka with all its beautiful offerings.