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.