Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Tokyo
Population
12,059,237

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Mi imperial casa es su casa.

On the 23rd December, in the return up to Christmas, Japan celebrates the Emperor’s Birthday. Crowds flock from Tokyo Station to the Imperial Palace with Japanese flags in hand and many shouts of “Banzai!” Eventually, a small grandfather-figure pops out onto the balcony to a renewed round of cheers from Japanese locals and a healthy dose of visiting foreigners. Only on this day and January 2nd (when the Emperor’s New Year’s Greeting is held) can you visit the inner palace ground and see members of the Imperial Family.

On the 23rd December, in the return up to Christmas, Japan celebrates the Emperor’s Birthday. Crowds flock from Tokyo Station to the Imperial Palace with Japanese flags in hand and many shouts of “Banzai!” Eventually, a small grandfather-figure pops out onto the balcony to a renewed round of cheers from Japanese locals and a healthy dose of visiting foreigners. Only on this day and January 2nd (when the Emperor’s New Year’s Greeting is held) can you visit the inner palace ground and see members of the Imperial Family. Even if you don’t have the chance to visit the Imperial Palace during this celebratory time, there is plenty to see and do. Built on top of what used to be Edo Castle by the Tokogawa Shoganate (which was the tallest castle ever constructed in Japan) and surrounded by beautiful grounds including some pretty fancy-looking moats, bridges and gardens; the Imperial Palace brings a slice of classical elegance to the otherwise crazy everyday goings on of the city itself. If you’re not sure to where to start and have a solid grasp of Japanese: book yourself onto a guided tour. There are offered year-round and take about 75 minutes. Advance reservations can be made in advance through the Imperial Household Agency (details below), but same-day registrations before the start of the tours are also possible at the Kikyomon Gate. Don’t worry if the only Japanese you’ve learnt is only food/drink/Pokemon related, the Imperial Palace East Gardens are wonderful to walk around whatever the weather and are open on everyday except for Mondays, Fridays or special occasions. Here you can find the ruins of Edo Castle, dating back to the great fire in 1657 that destroyed the original structure. A Japanese-style garden now stands in the place of it’s secondary circle of defence, providing a place to relax and unwind.

The northwestern moat (Chidorigafuchi) surrounding the Imperial Palace grounds is one of Toyo’s most popular cherry blossom spots during spring.

Even if you don’t have the chance to visit the Imperial Palace during this celebratory time, there is plenty to see and do. Built on top of what used to be Edo Castle by the Tokogawa Shoganate (which was the tallest castle ever constructed in Japan) and surrounded by beautiful grounds including some pretty fancy-looking moats, bridges and gardens; the Imperial Palace brings a slice of classical elegance to the otherwise crazy everyday goings on of the city itself. It’s as tranquil as if you were inside a bubble, the only reminder that you’re in Tokyo being the skyscrapers sticking up at different heights in the near-distance.

If you’re not sure to where to start and have a solid grasp of Japanese: book yourself onto a guided tour. There are offered year-round and take about 75 minutes. Advance reservations can be made in advance through the Imperial Household Agency (details below), but same-day registrations before the start of the tours are also possible at the Kikyomon Gate.

A view of Tokyo Imperial Palace across the water.

The Imperial Palace is an oasis of calm epitomized. Photo by Yoshikazu Takada.

Don’t worry if the only Japanese you’ve learnt is only food/drink/Pokemon related, the Imperial Palace East Gardens are wonderful to walk around whatever the weather and are open on everyday except for Mondays, Fridays or special occasions. Here you can find the ruins of Edo Castle, dating back to the great fire in 1657 that destroyed the original structure. A Japanese-style garden now stands in the place of it’s secondary circle of defence, providing a place to relax and unwind.

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Things To Know

Opening Hours

Only on January 2 (New Year’s Greeting) and December 23 (Emperor’s Birthday), are visitors able to enter the inner palace grounds and see the members of the Imperial Family, who make several public appearances on a balcony. The Imperial Palace East Gardens are open to the public throughout the year except on Mondays, Fridays and special occasions.

Guided Tours

Tours are conducted daily in Japanese at 10:00 and 13:30 except on Sundays and Mondays. Advance reservations can be made through the Imperial Household Agency, but same-day registrations before the start of the tours are also possible at the Kikyomon Gate.

How To Get There

Address

1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-0001, Japan

By train

JR Train: The two main gates (the Sakashita-mon and Kikyo-mon) can be accessed via the JR Keihin Tohoku line from Tokyo Station (Marunouchi Central Exit). From here it is a very scenic 20 minutes walk away – from the exit just head straight.

Subway: Again, the main gates (the Sakashita-mon and Kikyo-mon) are reached via Nijubashi-mae Station (Exit 6) on the Chiyoda Line and Otemachi Station (Exit D2) via the Mita Line. Both are a signposted 15-minute walk away.

Where To Stay

Palace Hotel Tokyo
  • Marunouchi 1-1-1 Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100-0005
  • 9.4/10
  • 0.7 km
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Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo
  • 1-1-1, Otemachi Park Building 22F - 29F Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100-0004
  • 9.2/10
  • 0.9 km
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Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon
  • Hayabusa-cho 1-1 Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 102-0092
  • 8.7/10
  • 1.0 km
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nine hours Takebashi
  • Kanda Nishikicho 3-11-15 Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 101-0054
  • 8.3/10
  • 1.1 km
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