As another part of our Destinations in Japan series, we have Imperial Place as a place you can visit in your vacation. This place is not too far from the Akihabara we just covered earlier as its located at Chiyoda district of the Chiyoda Ward right in Tokyo.
The Imperial Palace is located at the former site of Edo castle, and is the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. A little history about the place itself, the Edo castle that used to exist there was where the Tokugawa shogun seated from 1603 to 1867.
In 1868 however, the shogunate was overthrown and the Imperial Residence was moved to Tokyo. The Imperial Palace’s construction then was completed in 1888 before being destroyed during the World War II and rebuilt with the same style and architecture into what we see today.
What to Do in The Imperial Palace
In the Imperial Palace, you can visit the Kokyo Gaien, the largest plaza in front of the palace itself. There visitors can see the Nijubashi, the two bridges that form the entrance to the palace’s inner grounds.
The inner part of the palace is generally not open to public. Only on January 2 and February 23 or in other words during The New Year’s Greeting or the Emperor’s Birthday are the inner part of the palace open for public visitors. During those days they can see the imperial family who will be making public appearances on the palace’s balcony.
That being said though, a tour of the Palace is offered for the rest of the year even though visitors can’t actually enter any building. It takes about 75 minutes in both English and Japanese daily at 10:00 AM and 13:30 PM with the exception of Sundays and Mondays.
You can make registrations in advance through the Imperial Household Agency, although same-day registration is also available at the Kikyomon Gate
The East Garden
Adjacent to the inner grounds of the palace is the Imperial Palace East Garden. The garden grounds itself is built on top of the Edo’s castle innermost circle of defense known as the honmaru (main circle) and ninomaru (secondary circle). Although none of the building actually still remain today, you can still see the moats, walls and entrance gates of the former Edo castle.
In East Garden you can visit the remaining foundation of the former castle tower that’s located on top of a hill where the castle’s innermost building once stood. The tower itself was completed in 1638 and considered to be the tallest castle in the history of Japan. But only a few years later, it was destroyed by citywide fires with only the foundation as a remain.
In the ninomaru we’ve mentioned above, you can find a nice Japanese style garden in it with many different floras and architecture you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re traveling to Japan and is looking for destinations in Japan to visit, make sure to add the Imperial Palace to your list. Not only is it a beautiful castle, it also holds many histories around it, making your visit much more insightful as well as entertaining.