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Kyoto Gyoen Park with its pebbled promenades. Nijo Castle highlights the architectural style of the 17th century.

Kyoto Gosho is the former Imperial Palace, located at the center of Kyoto. The large luxurious Kyoto Gyoen National Garden surrounding the palace and the nearby Sento Gosho Palace, the former residence of the retired emperor, is a relaxing spot with rich greenery enjoyed by the people of Kyoto. The park measures 700 meters from east to west and 1,300 meters from north to south. Before the Imperial Palace was moved to Tokyo in the latter half of the 19th century, this vast park was the residential quarters for nobles. Today, it is a public garden with pebbled promenades, green lawns and seasonal trees and flowers.

To the southwest of the palace stands Nijo Castle, built in the early 17th century. Ninomaru-goten, renovated in 1626, is a building renowned as a priceless example of the architectural style of that period. The best known section of the splendid interior, with its murals and carvings on the walls, is the Happo-nirami-no-Shishi-zu, in which the eyes of the painted lion appear to look straight at viewers no matter where they are standing in the room. Some of its interesting devices used in defense against enemies are also worth a look. They include the Uguisubari-no-roka corridor, where the planks make a sound like a nightingale's song when walked upon, and the Musha-kakushi, special doors designed to hide guards, both must-see attractions. Mannequins have been placed throughout the palace, making the period come to life.

Directions

From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line 'Nozomi.'
(2h 45 min by 'Hikari')
From Osaka :
[Rail] 28 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Line (new rapid service).
To Kyoto Gyoen: 7 min from Kyoto to Marutamachi Station, or 9 min from Kyoto to Imadegawa Station by subway.
To Nijo Castle: 10 min from Kyoto via Karasuma-Oike to Nijo-jo-mae Station by subway.

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