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Why Imperial Palace (East Gardens) is special ?
The Imperial Palace East Gardens (皇居東御苑, Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen) are a part of the inner palace area and are open to the public. They are the former site of Edo Castle's innermost circles of defense, the honmaru ("main circle") and ninomaru ("secondary circle"). None of the main buildings remain today, but the moats, walls, entrance gates and several guardhouses still exist.
Edo Castle was the residence of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. Emperor Meiji also resided there from 1868 to 1888 before moving to the newly constructed Imperial Palace.
What to explore at Imperial Palace (East Gardens)?
A wide lawn and the remaining foundation of the former castle tower can be found on top of the hill, where the castle's innermost buildings once stood. The castle tower was completed in 1638 as the tallest castle tower in Japan's history. But only a few years later in 1657, it was destroyed by citywide fires and has not been rebuilt ever since.
In place of the former buildings in the secondary circle of defense (ninomaru) at the foot of the hill, a nice Japanese style garden has been created.
How to get to Imperial Palace (East Gardens)?
The Otemon entrance to the East Gardens is a short walk from Otemachi Station on the Chiyoda, Tozai, Marunouchi, Hanzomon and Mita Subway Lines. It can also be reached in a 10-15 minute walk from Tokyo Station.
- Meticulous Grounds
- Grand, majestic palace
- Tranguility between the City's giants
- Heart of Japan
- A visit to royalty
1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Tips for you
? Breathtaking. The exquisite, beautiful and powerful head quarters of Japan's Emperor. What a view! ?
The Imperial Palace is the current residence of the royal family. Japan, like Europe, continues to have some sympbolic royal families, for purposes of tradition and national morale (it is mystifying to me why a modern democracy would find the cultural concept of the royal family uplifting, but anyway). The palace structure is traditional and picturesque. Guided tours can be pre-arranged, but we did not do so. Thus, our tour of the grounds was interesting for about 20 minutes. We came with a tour bus. It was difficult to get nice photos not crammed with people, as there aren't too many vantage points for photos. The sakura were pretty, but there are prettier photo opportunities in Tokyo. The Imperial Museum is not a must stop for Tokyo, in my opinion. I would must rather tour the White House, at least symbolically---a house for an elected President, a house owned by the people, for the people.