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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kanto - Tokyo - Central Tokyo
Tokyo Imperial Palace 
# 14   of 73 most visited
sights in Tokyo

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Moats and walls surround the imperial palace

The current Imperial Palace (皇居, Kōkyo) is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo, a short walk from Tokyo Station. It is the residence of Japan's Imperial Family.

Edo Castle used to be the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 until 1867. In 1868, the shogunate was overthrown, and the country's capital and Imperial Residence were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. In 1888 construction of a new Imperial Palace was completed. The palace was once destroyed during World War Two, and rebuilt in the same style, afterwards.

From Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, visitors can view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks. The bridge in the back was formerly a wooden bridge with two levels, from which the name Nijubashi (Double Bridge) is derived.

Nijubashi Bridge

The inner grounds of the palace are generally not open to the public. Only on January 2 (New Year's Greeting) and December 23 (Emperor's Birthday), visitors are able to enter the inner palace grounds and see the members of the Imperial Family, who make several public appearances on a balcony.

Furthermore, guided tours of the palace grounds are offered during the rest of the year, although no buildings are entered. The tours are held in Japanese, and an English pamphlet and audio guide are provided. The tours must be reserved in advance through the Imperial Household Agency (see links below).

The Imperial Palace East Gardens are open to the public throughout the year except on Mondays, Fridays and special occasions. More information is available on the East Gardens page.

Guided tour through the Imperial Palace grounds

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
The Imperial Palace is a 10 minute walk from Tokyo Station.

Orientation in Tokyo

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Hotels and Ryokan
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Hotel Metropolitan Marunouchi
Adjacent to Tokyo Station, this is one of the city's most convenient and comfortable hotels.
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Tours and Packages
Tokyo Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Tokyo and surroundings.

User Ratings
Ratings for Imperial Palace:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  outstanding  
User Rating (by 1383 users):
82/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 781):
297.  Kankakei Gorge (Shodoshima)   82/100
298.  Spa Resort Hawaiians (Iwaki)   82/100
299.  Suizenji Garden (Kumamoto)   82/100
300.  Chaya Districts (Kanazawa)   82/100
301.  Imperial East Gardens (Tokyo)   82/100
302.  Imperial Palace (Tokyo)   82/100
303.  Hama Rikyu (Tokyo)   82/100
304.  Kongobuji Temple (Mount Koya)   82/100
305.  Matsuyama Castle (Matsuyama)   82/100
306.  Engakuji Temple (Kamakura)   82/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 913):
16.  Gion (Kyoto)   2755
17.  Yoyogi Park (Tokyo)   2690
18.  Nara Park (Nara)   2671
19.  Osaka Castle (Osaka)   2659
20.  Peace Park (Hiroshima)   2653
21.  Imperial Palace (Tokyo)   2635
22.  Todaiji Temple (Nara)   2575
23.  Sensoji Temple (Tokyo)   2475
24.  Ginkakuji (Kyoto)   2413
25.  Nijo Castle (Kyoto)   2299

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English Links
Imperial Household Agency
English version of the official website.
Application for Visit
Online application form for a visit to the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Japanese Links
Imperial Household Agency
Official website.
Application for Visit
Online application form for a visit to the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

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