The Japanese Imperial Palace is home to the Emperor of Japan. I didn't know they still had an Emperor after World War II, but the current Emperor is Hirohito's oldest surviving son (Hirohito ruled before and during WWII and was likely responsible for millions of civilian deaths, but his name in Japan is Emperor Shōwa, meaning "abundant benevolence"). The Japanese line of succession for emperor excludes females, except in rare and temporary circumstances.
The Imperial Palace occupies the site of the ancient Edo Castle, which was established in the 1450s. It is said that construction of the castle involved the labor of some 300,000 men, and the massive complex had 38 gates. In 1868, the Japanese emperor moved the nation's capital from Kyoto to Edo castle.
Over the next 70 years many of the old buildings were removed, damaged by earthquakes or fires, or destroyed by bombing during World War II. In the 1960s the main palace hall and residential areas were constructed.
The main palace area is closed to the public, except on 2 January and the Emperor's birthday each year. Many of the palace's huge gardens are open to the public, including the East Garden, the Kitanomaru park to the north of the palace, and the Kōkyo-gaien to the south near Tokyo Station.
The Tokyo Imperial Palace was built on the grounds of the former Edo Castle. The Fushimi Yagura of the castle dates back to 1659 and the famous Nijubashi area dates back to the same century. There is also a large area of imperial pines. You can see all of these from the outside, but to enter the actual Imperial Palace grounds, you must reserve a spot on one of their tours which can be done on their website. The tour is free with the reservation.
Inside, the tour takes you past the Imperial Household Agency, the Imperial Palace (not the home of the emperor, but this is where they wave to the crowds on New Years), and onto the Nijubashi Bridge before going back around to the visitor center and gift shop. The imperial buildings are all quite modern, so they are probably not as impressive as the remnants of Edo Castle, but the simple fact that it's the current Imperial Palace is enough to keep it interesting, I think, and the audio guide (the tours only have Japanese language guides, so those who don't know Japanese must take an audio guide) is informative and certainly makes the tour worthwhile.
Tours are only offered on weekdays. If possible, it's most convenient to get a tour on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday because then you can go straight from the tour to the Imperial East Garden which is closed on Mondays and Fridays.
this is the second of the famed double bridge in the Imperial Palace Front plaza area. There are two bridges over a moat separating the Kokyo Gaien and the Imperial Palace - these are called "Nijubashi" (double bridges). Closed everyday except for New Year's Day and on the emperor's birthday, only twice a year are commoners allowed to cross the bridges and enter the square in front of the palace. So again a repeat, from Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, visitors can view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks. This second bridge in the back was formerly a wooden bridge but now a steel bridge with two levels, from which the name Nijubashi (Double Bridge) is derived. these two Bridges going to the Imperial Palace is probably the most photographed location in tokyo.
this is the first of the famous double bridge in the imperial palace front plaza. There are two bridges over a moat separating the Kokyo Gaien and the Imperial Palace - these are called "Nijubashi" (double bridges). Closed everyday except for New Year's Day and on the emperor's birthday, only twice a year are commoners allowed to cross the bridges and enter the square in front of the palace. So again a repeat, from Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, visitors can view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks. The bridge in the back was formerly a wooden bridge with two levels, from which the name Nijubashi (Double Bridge) is derived.
the entrance to the Imperial Palace. the Kokyo Gaien or the Huge Imperial Palace Plaza starts from the Babasaki Moat to arrive at the vast Imperial Palace Plaza. You can wander through the huge Imperial plaza to view the outer fortifications of the palace and the various and gates and bridges that cross the string of moats that surround the palace proper. You can also see from here the Tokyo Tower and high-rise buildings at Kasumigaseki reflected in the water of Kikyo-bori Moat, for the restriction of the surrounding scenery around the Palace. The twofold keep (watchhouse) Tatsumi-yagura on the moatside gives us a trace of the old Edo Castle. the statue of the loyal Samurai, Kusonoki Masahige is located near the tourist bus stops in the plaza.
The palace buildings and inner gardens are not open to the public. Only on January 2 (New Year's Greeting) and December 23 (Emperor's Birthday), visitors are able to enter the inner palace grounds and see the members of the Imperial Family, who make several public appearances on a balcony. During the rest of the year, guided tours of the palace are offered in Japanese, with an English pamphlet and audio guide provided. Tours must be reserved in advance with the Imperial Household Agency. Reservations can be made over the internet
The statue is stiuated near the end of the Imperial Palace Front Plaza near the tourist bus stops. Kusunoki Masahige was a famous loyal samurai warrior in the 14th century who was stauncly loyal to the Emperor in the 14th century (the actual rulers then were the shogun and not the emperor ok). He was a samurai who fought for Emperor Go-Daigo in his attempt to wrest rulership of Japan away from the Kamakura shogunate and is remembered as the ideal of samurai loyalty. He epitomized loyalty, courage, and devotion to the Emperor. Kusunoki later became a patron saint of sorts to the World War II kamikazes, who saw themselves as his spiritual heirs in sacrificing their lives for the Emperor.
Tokyo Imperial Palace is the imperial main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in Chiyoda, Tokyo close to Tokyo Station and contains various buildings such as the main palace and the private residences of the imperial family. The total area including the gardens is 3.41 square kilometers.
The Imperial Palace with its grounds is located on the site of the former residential palace of the successive Tokugawa Shoguns in the Edo Period. Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Emperor Meiji moved here from Kyoto which had been the imperial capital for more than a thousand years.
Since then, there are the Imperial Residence where Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress reside Imperial Palace, where the various ceremonies and functions are held, the Imperial Household Agency Building, the momijiyama Imperial Sericalture Center and the East Gardens including the Tokagakudo Concert Hall etc. are located.
This is another sight you can visit for free, although what you see in the picture is as close as you are allowed to the Imperial Palace. The whole area is surrounded by massive stone walls, similar to what you see at several ancient temples.
Eastern Garden is open to public at daily basis, free of charge. from 9am-5pm.
The garden is with very traditional Japanese settings, kinda similar to Chinese. Big and quite, good place for spending a sunny Sunday afternoon in downtown Tokyo.
Around the palace is a river (for defense purpose in the past), now with a jogging trail along it.
For some reason, this bridge attracts hordes of people lining up to take their photos in front of it. Couples, families, and entire huge tourist groups. I can't say I necessarily see what is so special about it, but it was one of the few things to see around the Imperial Palace.
It is called Kokyo and it is where the Emperor lives. You are not allowed to enter unless you go to sweep the gardens as many countryside people do! I confess I'd do it too, just to see inside this beautiful place =)
Although much of the grounds are off limits to visitors, the Imperial Palace and the surrounding gardens are similar in size to New York's Central Park.
There's plenty of green around, a revelation in the concrete jungle that is Tokyo.
There are remains of the old Edo Castle there. The main part of Edo Castle was burned down many years ago now, but some of the outer buildings remain.
Well worth having a look.
It is located just across from the Imperial Palace / Uchiboro Dori. Nice place to walk about. And if you need to get some drinks, there a booth and some vending machines around. Also, washroom facilities is available if you really... really need to use it!!
Sorry... the closest you can get to view the palace is from the Main Gate / Meganebashi Bridge 'cos the palace buildings and inner gardens are not open to the public. However, I heard that there are guided tours available, but must be reserved in advance at the Imperial Household Agency.
Moats and massive stone walls are the common features you'll find with all castles in Japan.
Only foreign dignitaries, other special guests, staff of the royal family, and the royal family itself are allowed to go into the inner areas of the Imperial Palace. But, everybody else can at enjoy walking around and about the areas open to the public.