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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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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 1365 users):
82/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 774):
297.  Ryukyu Mura (Okinawa Island)   82/100
298.  Science Museum (Miyazaki)   82/100
299.  Okukinu Onsen (Kinugawa Onsen)   82/100
300.  Kankakei Gorge (Shodoshima)   82/100
301.  Shin-Yakushiji (Nara)   82/100
302.  Imperial Palace (Tokyo)   82/100
303.  Imperial East Gardens (Tokyo)   82/100
304.  Nanzenji Temple (Kyoto)   82/100
305.  Hama Rikyu (Tokyo)   82/100
306.  Sagano Railway (Kyoto)   82/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 907):
16.  Gion (Kyoto)   2713
17.  Yoyogi Park (Tokyo)   2657
18.  Nara Park (Nara)   2633
19.  Peace Park (Hiroshima)   2617
20.  Osaka Castle (Osaka)   2610
21.  Imperial Palace (Tokyo)   2598
22.  Todaiji Temple (Nara)   2541
23.  Sensoji Temple (Tokyo)   2430
24.  Ginkakuji (Kyoto)   2373
25.  Nijo Castle (Kyoto)   2258

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We strive to keep japan-guide.com up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

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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