Travel to Japan: Nijo Palace
A departure from temples: the Nijo Palace (more properly, Ni-no-Maru) was built at the edge of a ruined imperial castle in the early 17th century by Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. No shogun visited the palace after 1634, by which time the real seat of power was Edo (modern Tokyo). Still, the Emperor Meiji came here in 1868, sat down, and signed the edict that abolished the Shogunate.
He also took charge of the palace and replaced the ubiquitous Tokugawa leaf-crest insignia with his own, the chrysanthemum.
The kara-mon, or Chinese-style gate; previously part of the Fushimi Castle. The palace is built entirely of wood in the shoin style, with a set of en echelon gabled buildings beginning with the antechamber (the to-zamurai, shown rising behind the gate) and connecting in a zigzag pattern off to the left through the assembly hall (shikidai), reception rooms (ohiroma), private rooms (kuro-shoin), and shogun's quarters (shiro-shoin). The whole sequence extends over a distance of about 500 feet.
An example of the way the several buildings are joined, in a pattern leading from the most to the least public area.
Gable of the antechamber (to-zamurai).
Gable of third building, the reception room (ohiroma).
Eave detail, with the ubiquitous emblem.
The palace garden is a paradise garden, with stones given as gifts to the shoguns. The trees are a recent addition, because falling leaves in Japan's parlous past seemed too suggestive of the fate of powerful men.
Originally, the garden was probably dry.
The garden flanks the palace, so that several rooms look directly upon it. Question: would the view be more dramatic if the water was replaced by raked sand?
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