Tokyo Imperial Palace - Kokyo - home of the Japanese Head of State. The Tokyo Imperial Palace, which includes beautiful gardens can be toured by the public.

Tokyo Imperial Palace, known as Kokyo which literally means the Imperial Residence, is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan (the Japanese head of state). The actual Tokyo Imperial Palace building is located within the grounds of what was Edo Castle. Today some of Edo Castle's moats, defensive walls, gate houses and turrets still remain.

Tokyo Imperial Palace - Moat, Wall and turrent

Tokyo Imperial Palace - Moat, Wall and Turret


Tokyo Imperial Palace, located in Chiyoda, is effectively the center of Tokyo, which makes sense from a historical perspective as Edo Castle would have been the focus of the city of Edo (now referred to as Tokyo). Even with Japan's change to a democracy and the decline in the power of the Emperor, Tokyo Imperial Palace has remained at the center of Tokyo with focus of the modern political power, the National Diet building, the Prime Ministers Offices and most of the government building just to the south over Sakurada moat. Then much of Tokyo's financial power is located just to the west of Tokyo Imperial Palace with many of Japan's major companies having there head offices there and it is not far to Tokyo Stock Exchange. Just to the west of Tokyo Imperial Palace, is Tokyo Station, the center of Japan's train network.

Sculpture in front of Tokyo Imperial Palace

Sculpture in front of Tokyo Imperial Palace


Foreigners can apply online to join a free guided tour of Tokyo Imperial Palace grounds, however you must book in advance. Depending on demand, you sometimes can get in at relative short notice. These tours are very popular and consist of large groups with hundreds of people in each group. The commentary on the tours is in Japanese, but a prereorded English audio guide is available free of charge. There are also two special days of the year when the public are able to enter the grounds, January 2 (New Year) and December 23 (Emperor Akihito's birthday), when the Imperial family makes a public appearance on the balcony of the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Marking of Sponsor inner wall Tokyo Imperial Palace

Marking of Sponsor inner wall Tokyo Imperial Palace

The above picture is part of the inner wall which provides protection to the Tokyo Imperial Palace. The wall was built as part of the Edo Castle. Various wealthy sponsors provided materials and tradesmen to construct the Edo Castle. To ensure that other people in their society knew they made a contribution to the construction of Edo Castle they engraved their mark onto some of the stone blocks that made up the wall.

Tokyo Imperial Palace Map - See the layout of palace and gardens.
Tokyo Imperial Palace Pictures - See many more pictures of the Tokyo Imperial Palace in our picture gallery.

Nijubashi Bridge at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Nijubashi Bridge at the Tokyo Imperial Palace

It is said that the Nijubashi Bridge is the most photographed scene in Japan.


During the night of May 25th 1945, most of the Meiji era wooden buildings, including the main hall, were destroyed during fire bombing raid on Tokyo. The main hall, which was the largest building, had a traditional Japanese exteria with the roof having the same shape as Kyoto Imperial Palace.

Tokyo Imperial Palace, Kyuden, which is used for formal functions, was built in 1968.


While the gardens within the main compound of Tokyo Imperial Palace are beautiful, the best gardens are definitely in the Tokyo Imperial Palace East Garden, which are located next to the Tokyo Imperial Palace and were part of the Edo Castle grounds.

Author: Craig Fryer



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