Inside the Imperial Palace Grounds

By Jim Caldwell

Copyright Jim Caldwell

Imperial Palace

In Tokyo’s Chiyoda District, close to Tokyo Station, lies Imperial Palace.  The palace is home to the Imperial Family, archive, museum and palace grounds.

The grounds cover approximately 1.3 square miles.  In the northern portion of grounds is Fukiage Garden, the residence of the Imperial family.  The administrative buildings for the palace are located in the East Garden.

The Tōkagakudō (Peach Blossom) Music Hall is located east of the old Edo Castle in the Honmaru.  This music hall was built in commemoration of the 60th birthday of Empress Kojun on 6 March 1963.

Each Japanese prefecture is represented symbolically with one of the 260 trees planted in the northwestern corner of Ninomaru enceinte.

Large outer gardens reside in the southern portion of the palace grounds, known as Kokyogaien.

One of Tokyo’s dramatic vistas of the new and the old is the Imperial Palace’s East Garden (Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen).  To enter, visitors pass through Ote-mon, once the main gate of Ieyasu Tokugawa’s castle.

Moat of Swans at Tokyo Imperial Palace during sakura season

Moat of Swans at Tokyo Imperial Palace during sakura season. Japan cherry blossoms. photography Jim Caldwell

(Click to view more Imperial Palace Kokyo’s Pictures)

The East Garden was once the site of the Edo Castle, the residence of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from the turn of the 17th Century to the mid 19th Century. After a twenty year stay, Emperor Meiji moved to the Imperial Palace in 1888.

flower photography, Japanese cherry blossoms, Shidarezakura or weeping cherry, hanami, Imperial Palace Tokyo, Imperial Palace Tokyo Cherry Blossom Season, photography by Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

Imperial Palace Tokyo Spring Time

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Imperial Palace Tokyo during cherry season)

Passing the main gate leads to the Martial Arts Hall, or the National Police Agency dojo.

flower photography, Japanese cherry blossoms, Shidarezakura or weeping cherry, hanami, Imperial Palace Tokyo, Imperial Palace Tokyo Cherry Blossom Season, photography by Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

Imperial Palace view towards Tokyo in the East Garden

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the Imperial Palace grounds)

The Imperial Palace’s original defense system combined moats (Moat of Swans), walls and the Hundred Man Guardhouse (so named for 100 man shifts that protecting the Castle).   Sitting inside two barriers, the East Garden is now the only part of the Imperial Palace that is fully open to the public.  The first barrier once served as the innermost defense barrier (hon-maru) for the Edo Castle.  The second circle of defense, or ni-no-maru, houses the Garden.

Imperial Palace Tokyo's East Garden

View looking up at Imperial Palace’s wall defense system from pre 20th Century.

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views of the Imperial Palace)

What once served as the foundation for one of Edo Castle’s towers has become part of the Ground’s landscape, surrounded by Palace’s large lawn.  The tower was built in 1638 and was the tallest structure in Japan until a fire destroyed it in 1657.

Kikko-chiku, Tortoise Shell Bamboo, Higashi Gyoen, Imperial Palace Tokyo Cherry Blossom Season, Sakura, Hanami, Imperial Palace Tokyo Cherry Blossoms, photography by Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

Higashi Gyoen, Bamboo forest at Imperial Palace, Tortoise Shell Bamboo – Kikko-chiku Bamboo, Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach

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flora and gardens of the Imperial Palace)

From Shio-mi-zaka, the highest point on the Imperial grounds, roughly translated Briny View Hill, a view of Tokyo and Toukagakudo Hall can be seen.  Toukagakudo is Tokyo’s Imperial Concert Hall built in 1966 to honor Empress Kojun.

Next, Kyoto’s Heian-Jingu Shrine.

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