Nightingales and ninjas

A nightingale floor is made by putting nails into the beams and having them face upwards so that when pressure is put on the floor boards it makes a noise.

All old wooden floorboards creak but none as beautifully as the floors in Nijo Castle in Kyoto, which is where we went yesterday and which has the worlds best example of nightingale floors.

It is said that these floors were used to warn the Shogun of an intruder… A ninja intruder.


They’re called nightingale floors because the sound they make when you walk on them sounds like a nightingale. They were truly beautiful.

Photographs aren’t allowed inside the castle, which was built in the 1600s – it’s filled with painted wall panels and screens and beautiful ceiling work.

It’s amazing walking through a building that’s older than our country. In fact, in Kyoto some people’s shops are older than New Zealand.

This is the gate to the castle complex – it’s brightly painted and has gold decoration. When we go to these places I like to look up – not many people do and there’s often really good things to be found on the ceiling.



Special thanks to Victoria Leachman for her recommendation of Nijo Castle – what sealed the deal for us visiting was her description of the nightingale floors.

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