On this day: Imperial Palace, Tokyo

See more from my On This Day series here, where I celebrate travel memories on their trip anniversaries.

On November 15, 2018, I was at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan.

For all you kind folks who have been following along, today’s recap of my trip to Japan is a two parter. After our midday visit to Yanaka aka “Cat Town”, we spent the later afternoon touring around the Imperial Palace.

The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the usual residence of the Emperor of Japan. Located in the Chiyoda ward, it encompasses a large park space containing several buildings, including the main palace, residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, museums, and administrative offices.

The palace was built on the grounds of the old Edo Castle, which was previously the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. When the shogunate was overthrown in 1868, the Imperial Palace was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. A new Imperial Palace was constructed in 1888, later destroyed during World War II and rebuilt afterward in the same style.

The inner grounds of the palace are generally closed to the public, save on January 2nd and February 23rd, for celebrations of New Year’s Greeting and the Emperor’s Birthday, respectively. On those dates, visitors are allowed entry to see members of the Imperial Family as they make public appearances on a balcony.

The highlight of our stroll through the palace was the East Gardens, set on the former site of Edo Castle’s innermost circles of defense. Remains of the castle tower foundation can be found here, although unfortunately I did not capture any photos. During cherry blossom season from late March to early April each year, this area is a top destination for hanami flower viewing.

11 responses to “On this day: Imperial Palace, Tokyo”

  1. At the time of my visit to Tokyo, there were two parts in the huge fortified garden surrounding the imperial palace. The first was freely accessible to the public, at the entrance I received a token to be returned on my way out. Smart way to check if there was anyone left. The second part closer to the palace was by guided tour after registration in advance. This part disappointed me a bit as there was not much to see outside the reception hall for foreign visitors; at least the tour was organized in English.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I remember picking up that token for entry, nice system. We didn’t bother with the guided tour and instead just wandered around on our own. I’ve heard that you do not get entry to the buildings anyway even with the tour, is that right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is indeed what I remember. The beginning of the visit took place in the courtyard where the official visitors arrived, in front of the reception hall, then through the trees it was possible to glimpse at walls presented as the imperial palace. At the time the guide’s explanations were interesting to learn about the history of the palace and some of the many traditions attached to the imperial family.

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  2. I went to the Tokyo Imperial Palace when I visited the city. Lovely spot, even though it was pretty hot when I went in the summer, so I was trying to stay cool while listening to the history of the palace on a tour…it was also cool to discover that the inner grounds of the palace aren’t open to the public except only twice a year: on New Year’s Greeting (January 2nd) and the Emperor’s birthday (February 23rd). Too bad that we missed them! 😉

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    1. I’d love to go back to see the cherry blossoms there but I bet it’s insanely crowded.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When I went to Tokyo, I think the Imperial Palace is the only thing that I didn’t manage to see (only from outside) as it was closed on the day we decided to go, so I’ll definitely have to go back to check it out in person (what a lovely excuse to go back to Tokyo again 😊). Your post was super informative and I loved reading it! Plus the pictures look amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d take any excuse to go back to Tokyo! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. […] a day of visiting quiet, historic sites including the neighbourhood of Yanaka and the Imperial Palace, we switched gears and went on to see more of the lively, modern side of […]


  5. I love Tokyo! Absolutely impressive city! Thanks a lot for sharing your story and following Suitcase Travel blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tokyo is probably my favourite city in the world. Thanks for checking out my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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