You will need more than a few days to fully explore all that Nakagyo Ward has to offer. Castles, museums, exquisite gardens and dramatic temples present a diverse array of attractions. Presenting a blend of the ancient and the modern Kyoto this area has excellent shopping and entertainment venues but most importantly a number of wonderful historic sites including the famous Nijo Castle around the which James Clavell’s book Shogun was set.
Nijo Castle is a must when visiting Kyoto. The Kyoto Residence of the Tokugawa Shogun was built in 1603, and is somewhat unique in Japanese cultural heritage sites as it has never been reconstructed; everything about the castle is original, including the interior. A favourite for many visitors is the ‘nightingale floor’ leading to the grand chambers. It got its name from the squeaking floorboards that made it difficult for intruders to sneak in. Rich in interior, with beautiful woodcarvings and paintings by the top artists of that period, Nijo Castle is where many major Japan historical events took place including the last Tokugawa shogun, handing power over to the Emperor in 1867 and thus ending the Tokugawa shogunate's 250 year rule. Nijo Castle is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8.45am to 5pm (closed on Tuesdays during Jan, Jul, Aug and Dec)
- Location: 541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo, Kyoto, 604-8301, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 841 0096
Nijo Jinya was originally a merchant’s house which was later used as an inn for feudal lords while they visited the Emperor. The structure has many amazing features such as trapdoors, false walls, secret tunnels and soundproofing, constructed in an era when espionage and deception where the order of the day. Built in the 17th century, Nijo Jinya retains its original layout, although it was thoroughly renovated in 2013. Tours are held in Japanese only.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 3pm
- Location: 137 Sanboomiyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8316, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 841 0972
The Museum of Kyoto
A grand, old Meiji-period building houses this fascinating contemporary museum. With excellent audio-visual displays, scale models of Kyoto in bygone days and an amazing life-size street scene that recreates Kyoto during the Edo period, the museum is interactive and interesting. The museum also has a section devoted to the Kyoto film industry. Audio guides are available in Japanese and English.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10am to 7.30pm
- Location: Sanjo-Takakura, Nakagyo, Kyoto, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 222 0888
Kamogawa Odori at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre
Witness the gentle elegant grace of the geisha during this biannual event held in May and October. Both geiko (accomplished geisha) and their trainees (maiko) perform brilliant classical dances and musical recitals during 3 daily shows, at 12.30pm, 2.20pm and 4.10pm. With exquisite costumes, make up and props, these public geisha performances are extremely popular, drawing crowds from across the globe. The show will be fully in Japanese, but you can still enjoy the spectacle.
- Opening Hours: 2 weeks in May and 2 weeks in October. Showtimes:12.30, 2.20, and 4.10
- Location: 130 Hashishitacho, Nakagyo, Kyoto, 604-8003, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 221 2025
Suicide and betrayal underscore this Nichiren temple, which was built in 1415 and rebuilt in 1587 after being ravaged by fire. Here, infamous warlord Oda Nobunaga took his own life after being betrayed by his general Mitsuhide Akechi, and a monument to his sacrifice is located within the temple grounds. Honnoji Temple isn't as spectacular as some others in Kyoto, but it is very conveniently placed close to the main shopping district and Kyoto Shiyakusho Maeeki station.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 5.30pm
- Location: 522 Shimohonnojimae-cho, Teramachi-dori, Nakagyo, Kyoto, 604-8091, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 231 5335
Once an extensive Chinese garden, only small sections of the original landscaping remain at Shinsen-en Garden. The most notable feature of the garden is the pond called the Garden of the Sacred Spring which has been an important ceremonious site for centuries. The water is believed to have restorative and protective powers. This garden is easy to find, close to Nijo Castle.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm
- Location: 167 Monzen-cho, Oike-dori Shinsenen-cho Higashi-iru, Nakagyo, Kyoto, 604-8306, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 821 1466
Mibu-dera is a revered site belonging to the Risshu sect of Buddhism. Built in 991, the temple honours Enmei Jizo Bosatsu, the guardian deity of children. With Children’s Days for boys and girls being two important national holidays, Mibu Temple is a sacred place believed to have the power to fend off evil spirits while ensuring prosperity in the future. A bean scattering festival called Yakuyoke-setsubun-e is held here annually in February. Mibu Temple is walking distance from Omiya station on the Hankyu line.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8.30am to 5.30pm
- Location: 31 Mibunaginomiyacho, Nakagyo, Kyoto, 604-8821, Japan
- Tel: +81 (0)75 841 3381