The Nijojo Castle was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. It was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of the first shogun of the Edo era, Tokugawa Ieyasu. The palace served as the residence and office of the shogun during his visits to Kyoto. The castle was completed by his grandson Iemitsu who completed the castle palace building 23 years later and added a five-storey castle keep.
After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867 the castle was used as an imperial palace before being donated to Kyoto city and opened to the public as a historic site. The Nijo castle consists of the Honmaru (main circle of defence), the Ninomaru (the secondary circle of defence) and some landscaped gardens surrounding both areas. The palace consists of multiple separate buildings that are connected by corridors with what are called nightingale floors that squeak when stepped upon to alert people of intruders.
The castle is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot and boasts of 400 sakura trees of the late blooming variety, and the sakura season usually lasts from late March through the month of April.