Imperial Palace Tokyo – Proud Residence of the Emperor of Japan
The Imperial Palace Tokyo really needs no introduction, but we've gone to the trouble anyway. Take a look at our guide for everything you need to know!
The Tokyo Imperial Palace (皇居 Kokyo, “Imperial Residence”) is the primary residence of the Japanese Emperor. Situated in parkland in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, it is made up of several buildings as well as the recognisable main palace. These include the private residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, several museums and administrative offices.
Now surrounded by a sea of high-rises in the heart of Tokyo, the Imperial Palace was first built in the Edo period (lasting from 1603 to 1868 BCE) and has since lived through turbulent times of war and revolution. The palace has been destroyed and rebuilt on several occasions, renamed and rebranded according to the mood of the times, but has always remained one of the countries main focal points of power and politics. Owing to this, Tokyo’s Imperial Palace is a profoundly interesting structure to visit.
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About the Imperial Palace Tokyo
The Imperial Palace in Tokyo is built on the site of the old Edo Castle which was originally constructed in 1457. Over the years the palace has been damaged several times due to fires and natural disaster as well as being completely deserted by order of the new Meiji administration after the 1868 Meiji Restoration. However, in 1888 the building acquired the name we know it by today – the Imperial Palace Castle (宮城 Kyujo) – having had several buildings reconstructed and renovated in the intervening period.
The bombing campaigns of the Second World War took a heavy toll on the palace, most buildings suffering irreparable damage. Emperor Hirohito and his cohort of advisors made the decision to surrender to the Allies in a building referred to as His Majesty’s Library on the palace grounds.
The area around the Imperial Palace, including the gardens, is roughly 3.5 square kilometres in size. The western part of the palace grounds was renamed the Imperial Residence (皇居 Kokyo) in 1948 and new buildings including the main hall and residences were constructed here in the 1960s. The eastern part was renamed the East Garden (東御苑 Higashi-Gyoen) and was opened to the public in 1968.
A non-profit organisation named “Rebuilding Edo-jo Association” was founded in 2004 with its main aim as reconstructing a historically accurate version of the donjon (main hall). Premised on the perceived need of Tokyo to have a “symbolic building” befitting the nation’s capital, the group began canvassing for support and donations in March 2013. Reconstruction would be based on mock-ups of the original blueprints and artwork depicting the hall in its prime.
Further Info and Events
There is plenty to see and do in and around Tokyo Imperial Palace, including free things like hanging out in the East Park or renting a free bicycle and circling the temple grounds on a Sunday. Alternatively, why not treat yourself to breakfast at the luxurious Tokyo Imperial Palace Hotel before walking off the calories in the palace grounds?
Of course, the abundant nature present around the palace is also always a delight. What’s more, there is a wide range of offical events to take part in. Check out the schedule on the event page of the Imperial Palace Tokyo for all the info.
Tue – Thu and Sat – Sun
09.00 am – 05.00 pm
Entry into the East Gardens is possible any time during opening hours. Reservation for entry into the palace possible online here.
Mondays, Fridays, 12/23 (the emperor’s birthday) and over New Years (12/28 – 01/03)
entry is free
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is a mere 10-minute walk from both JR Tokyo Station and Tokyo Metro Otemachi Station. The lines servicing these two stations are:
Chuo Line/Chuo Line-Limited Express
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is vast, so take a look at the site map to find your way.