The castle where kings once lived





   This weekend mark the third and last field trip for our Japanese Art in the Kansai Area class where we visit the Nijo Castle and Daitokuji temple complex.  First was the castle.  It still amaze me how different the Japanese castle is from an European castle.  Nijo Castle was a raised structure but not set on stone like Osaka Castle.  Its famous creaking wooden floor is named the Nightingale’s floor, which purposely makes noise so that assasins or robbers sneaking around are easily heard.  The interior is beautiful, with every wall literally covered with some kind of art, painted sliding doors and wooden beams, brings colors to a humble wooden building.  The garden outside was no less impressive.  Once again the design of an eastern garden with it’s pines and neatly pruned trees seem to accentuate the delicate and detailed Japanese culture and history. 

   We headed over to Daitokuji, which is the biggest temple complex we’ve ever been to.  Beside the main temple buildings there were numerous smaller ones that belong to families of the temple supporters that had been around for hundreds of years.  We visited a Zen temple where rock gardens and tea ceremonies were originally created and refined.  We enjoyed a cup of traditionally prepared green tea and snack as we sat to enjoy the garden.  The Japanese gardens, at first glance, seemed very natural, as if they just fenced off a part of the wood and called it a garden.  But the longer you look at it, the more you see of the effort and planning that went into the design of the garden.  It was also amazing that the temple, though located inside a busy city, somehow blocked out all the sounds of the world going on outside and it was as if we traveled back in time to a very peaceful place.

A glimpse of the monks

An example of a Japanese garden

Nijo Castle

A ceremonial tea room