A glance at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto is now exteriors only, the beautiful panels and the famous Nightingale floors are off limits after an extensive restoration … however the gardens and beautiful buildings are still worth the visit.
Nightingale floors , are floors that make a chirping sound when walked upon. These floors were used in the hallways of some temples and palaces, the most famous example being Nijō Castle, in Kyoto, Japan. Dry boards naturally creak under pressure, but these floors were built in a way that the flooring nails rub against a jacket or clamp, causing chirping noises. It is unclear if the design was intentional. It seems that, at least initially, the effect arose by chance. An information sign in Nijō castle states that “The singing sound is not actually intentional, stemming rather from the movement of nails against clumps in the floor caused by wear and tear over the years”. Legend has it that the squeaking floors were used as a security device, assuring that none could sneak through the corridors undetected.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan. The Emperors have since resided at the Tokyo Imperial Palace after the Meiji Restoration in 1869, and the preservation of the Kyoto Imperial Palace was ordered in 1877. Today, the grounds are open to the public, and the Imperial Household Agency hosts public tours of the buildings several times a day.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the latest of the imperial palaces built at or near its site in the northeastern part of the old capital of Heian-kyō (now known as Kyoto) after the abandonment of the larger original Heian Palace that was located to the west of the current palace during the Heian period. The Palace lost much of its function at the time of the Meiji Restoration, when the capital functions were moved to Tokyo in 1869. However, Emperor Taishō and Shōwa still had their enthronement ceremonies at the palace.
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