The Tokyo Imperial Palace is located where the Edo Castle, which served as the headquarters of the Tokugawa shogunate, had once existed. Its history can be traced back to the very beginning of the Meiji period, in 1869, when the Emperor Meiji had moved from Kyoto to this very location in Tokyo. The imperial family of Japan continues to reside here in the palace to this day.
Aside from the palace in which Emperor and the Empress reside, there are also buildings for events and the government office building of the Imperial Household Agency on site.
The Imperial Palace is open to the public through tours available for free.
There are generally two tours available per day, one from 10am and another from 1:30pm, that last about an hour and 15 minutes.
However, these tours are not available on weekends and holidays, the afternoons of July 21 - Aug. 31, or the New Years period (Dec. 18 - Jan. 4). These tours can be booked in advance on the Internet and also directly on the day of the tour as well. Having said that, depending on the season, these tours can be very popular, so we recommend checking and booking in advance.
When visiting the palace, you don’t want to miss out on the outer gardens. Area-wise, it is one of the largest parks in Tokyo, and you can also take a look at some of the historically valuable remains that are scattered across the garden. Groves of beautiful black pine trees create a scenery that can only be found here in Japan.
In the spring, you can also see the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
You can travel back in time to the Edo era at the “Nanko Rest House” (楠公レストハウス), which is a restaurant that serves recreated meals from the Edo era. The menu is not only healthy, but also beautiful in its presentation.
Here, you can purchase original souvenirs, to make the Imperial Palace tour even more memorable.
We recommend the Kokunmitsu (皇薫蜜), which is a type of honey that combines the honey of fine quality that were collected in the area surrounding the Imperial Palace and the carefully selected Hyakka Hachimitsu (百花蜜), or honey collected from a number of various types of flowers, instead of just a single type.
Other types of honey are also available, such as Somei Yoshino, in which cherry blossoms are combined, or Yurinoki, in which lilies are combined. We assure you that all of them are of top quality and you won’t be disappointed!
Aside from the honey, Japanese sweets, such as Monaka, Dorayaki, Kintsuba, or Rakugan, are available. These all have the imprints of the Kiku Omon, or the Imperial chrysanthemum crest that serves as the symbol for the imperial family.
The most popular is the Kiku Monaka (菊もなか). Monaka is a Japanese sweet made of azuki bean jam filling sandwiched between two wafers. This particular one uses delicious azuki bean made in Tokachi district of Hokkaido, and the combination of the azuki bean jam and the crisp wafers are heavenly.
|Tokyo Imperial Palace|
|1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo|
|10 minutes walk from “Ootemachi” station|
|The outer gardens are open 24/7. Other hours depend on each facility|