The Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所, Kyōto Gosho) used to be the residence of Japan's Imperial Family until 1868, when the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. It is located in the spacious Kyoto Imperial Park (京都御苑, Kyōto Gyoen), an attractive park in the center of the city that also encompasses the Sento Imperial Palace and a few other attractions.

The current Imperial Palace was reconstructed in 1855 after it had burnt down and moved around town repeatedly over the centuries. The complex is enclosed by long walls and consists of several gates, halls and gardens. The enthronement ceremonies of Emperors Taisho and Showa were still held in the palace's main hall. Tokyo Imperial Palace is now used for enthronement ceremonies.

Formerly only accessible on guided tours that required advance reservations, the palace grounds can now be entered and explored without joining a tour and without any prior arrangements (although tours in English are still available). Visitors can see the palace buildings and gardens, but note that none of the buildings can be entered.

Besides the Imperial Palace and the Sento Palace grounds, a few other historic sites are located within Kyoto Imperial Park, including the Kaninnomiya Mansion, a former residence of court nobles that is open to the public in the park's southwestern corner. Not far away stands a small branch shrine of Miyajima's famous Itsukushima Shrine on a small island of a pond.

The 1300 meter long and 700 meter wide park also serves as recreational space for both tourists and residents, featuring attractive, broad gravel paths, lawns and tree groves. A pretty group of weeping cherry trees stands beside Konoe Pond in the park's northwestern corner and is usually in bloom for two to three weeks from late March to mid April.

Getting there and around

Kyoto Imperial Palace is a short subway ride from Kyoto Station along the Karasuma Subway Line. Get off at Marutamachi (7 minutes, 260 yen) or Imadegawa Station (10 minutes, 260 yen). Note that Imadegawa Station is closer to the entrance gate of the Imperial Palace than Marutamachi Station.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees

Kyoto Imperial Palace


9:00 to 17:00 (April to August)
9:00 to 16:30 (September and March)
9:00 to 16:00 (October to February)
Admission ends 40 minutes before closure.


Mondays (or following day if Monday is a national holiday), December 28 to January 4, occasional closures when the palace is used for some events



Hotels around Kyoto

Recommended Hotels
Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto
One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
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Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.
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Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.
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Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.
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New Miyako Hotel Kyoto
Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.
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Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.
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