Tokyo Imperial Palace and Edo Castle
Located in the heart of Japan’s largest city, Tokyo, is the Imperial Palace and former Edo Castle. Japan is a country full of history and there are many buildings leftover from centuries past. These two buildings have significant historic importance. They are located in the same area and should definitely be a must visit spot while in Tokyo. The placement of the palace and the modern city skyline creates a picturesque scenery that attracts travelers from around the world.
Japan is one of the few nations with an emperor. Although the emperor is just a figurehead, much like their UK counterpart, the emperor and his family reside in the Tokyo Imperial Palace. The palace however is separated into different sections, the main palace, the archive, a few museums, offices, and of course the private residence for the imperial family.
History of Tokyo Imperial Palace and Edo Castle
The Imperial Palace grounds cover an area of about 1.32 square miles. The palace dates back to the Meiji period, but most buildings since then have been replaced. In fact, a majority of the palace was destroyed during the firebombing of Tokyo towards the conclusion of the Second World War. It was during the reconstruction in 1960 when the palace grounds were separated into two parts, the Imperial Residence to the West and the East Garden to the East.
It was in 1968 that the East Garden opened up as a public park. Although the original palace was an entirely wooden structure and mixed with traditional Japanese architecture, at the time modern European decor and design became popular. The current palace features modern materials while trying to keep the spirit of the original palace alive. The palace isn’t open to the public unless you are able to reserve a guided tour. The only exception to this is January 2nd (the New Year) and on the Emperor’s Birthday. In these two days the inner gate is opened and the public is treated to a short speech given by the emperor.
The Tokyo Imperial Palace was built where the Edo Castle used to sit. The castle actually dates back to the 15th century and is now considered part of the Imperial Palace. This castle served as the center of the Tokugawa shogunate until the Meiji Restoration. It served as the residence for the shogun and then became the Tokyo Imperial Palace following the resignation of the shogun and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. When Ieyasu Tokugawa began rebuilding the castle, the impressive renovation was completed in multiple phases and 38 gates were built. The outer walls that were built are over 12 meters high. Although destroyed by fire in the 17th century the stone foundation is all that’s left from the main tower of the castle.
Must see place, Tokyo Imperial Palace and Edo Castle
Tokyo is full of different types of places to visit. One of the most historical and perhaps significant places to visit is the former Edo Castle and the Tokyo Imperial Palace. With multiple moats and towering walls, the palace will truly leave an impression. Although many of the buildings were rebuilt within the past century, many parts still date back centuries. It was here that Emperor Hirohito and the Privy Council met to end World War II and it was here that the most powerful leaders in Japan visited for centuries during the Tokugawa Shogunate. It really is a special place to visit and will definitely leave a lasting impression.
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Tokyo Imperial Palace
Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Access: 1 minute walk from Sakuradamon Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
*Closed Mondays and Fridays
Website: Tokyo Imperial Palace