About full-scale restoration of the Nijo-jo Castle

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About full-scale restoration of the Nijo-jo Castle

Over the course of approximately twenty years from 2011, full-scale conservation work entailing structural reinforcement will be carried out on all historic structures within Nijo-jo Castle, including 28 designated cultural properties, for the purpose of preserving the castle’s historic and cultural value, and ensuring continued safe public access to one of Kyoto’s leading cultural tourism assets.

Honmaru-goten Palace [Important Cultural Property]

The Honmaru-goten Palace served as an imperial villa. It was moved to its present location from the Katsura-no-miya residence at the Kyoto Imperial Palace. The Honmaru-goten Palace is composed of four buildings: Genkan; Otsune-goten; Goshoin; and Daidokoro and Kari-no-ma. The palace, which has been closed to the public since 2007, requires major structural reinforcement before reopening
Honmaru-goten Palace [Important Cultural Property]

Ninomaru-goten Palace [National Treasure]

After it was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603, the Ninomaru-goten Palace underwent a major renovation in the 1620s, and refurbishments in the Meiji era to serve as an imperial villa. After it came under the management of Kyoto City, the last major maintenance and repair project took place between 1949 and 1955. Today, more than half a century later, major damage is evident, especially in the walls and roofs.
Ninomaru-goten Palace [National Treasure]

Covered bridge and Tamarigura

In preparation of the 1626 visit of Emperor Go-Mizuno-o, a covered bridge spanning the inner moat and connecting the Ninomaru-goten and Honmaru-goten was constructed, allowing the emperor to move between the two palaces without touching the ground. Parts of this bridge survived until 1930, when the structure was completely dismantled. Structural members are still kept in storage at the castle, making a more or less faithful reconstruction feasible.

Phase 1 FY2011–2013 Kara-mon Gate; Tsuiji
FY2014–2016 Higashi Ote-mon Gate
FY2015–2016 Bansho
Phase 2 FY2017–2021 Honmaru-goten Palace
Phase 3 FY2022–2025 Ninomaru-goten Palace(Shiro-shoin plus two other buildings)
Tamarigura; covered bridge
Phase 4 FY2026–2034 Ninomaru-goten Palace
Tonan Sumi-yagura; 14 other structures

* The entire project is estimated to cost over 10 billion yen.

Completed phases and their results

Kara-mon Gate and Tsuiji [FY2011–2013]

One of the structural members of the roof of the Kara-mon Gate is inscribed with the date, “Kan’ei 2 (1625),” suggesting that the gate was among the additions made in preparation of the 1626 visit by Emperor Go-Mizuno-o. The gate had not been repaired since 1975, and aging and resultant damage had advanced over the 36 years. The project replaced the hinoki roofing, gave the gate a fresh coat of lacquer, and conducted repairs on the sculpted decoration.
When pieces of ornamental hardware covering the rafter ends were removed for conservation work, the “triple hollyhock” motif—the crest of the Tokugawa clan—appeared from underneath the chrysanthemum crest symbolizing the imperial family. Evidence of the Tokugawa crest was also identified in damaged hardware elsewhere, suggesting that the sculpted crests were replaced during the mid-Meiji era, when the castle became an imperial villa under the jurisdiction of the imperial court following the return of imperial rule in 1867.

  • Kara-mon Gate before restoration
    Kara-mon Gate before restoration
  • Kara-mon Gate after restoration
    Kara-mon Gate after restoration
  • Rafter-end hardware Tokugawa crest revealed from underneath the imperial crest.
    Rafter-end hardware
    Tokugawa crest revealed from underneath the imperial crest.

Higashi Ote-mon Gate [FY2014-2016]

The Higashi Ote-mon, which stands facing Horikawa-dori Street, is the castle’s main gate. It was built in preparation of the 1626 visit of Emperor Go-Mizuno-o, and was altered to its present shape in 1662. The gate had not been repaired majorly since 1950, and aging and resultant damage had advanced over the 64 years. The project replaced the roofing to improve the structure’s earthquake resistance, and restored the main doors and surrounding parts.

  • Higashi Ote-mon before restoration
    Higashi Ote-mon before restoration
  • Higashi Ote-mon after restoration
    Higashi Ote-mon after restoration

Type of work involved

Earthquake resistance improvement

Extra members are being added to reinforce the walls, as well as structures supporting the roofs. Roofs are being made lighter by laying less soil underneath the roof tiles, in a roofing method known as kara-buki.
Earthquake resistance improvement

Restoration of paintings

The murals and sliding-screen paintings at Nijo-jo Castle are executed on paper, which is mounted on a backing paper, which in turn is pasted onto a wall or sliding screen. Restoration work involves periodically replacing the backing paper to make the paper support last longer. Paintings are also cleaned by removing surface dirt.
Restoration of wall paintings

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