The mysterious Imperial Palace Tokyo is home to one of the most discreet and unknown Royal families in the world-the Japanese Emperor and his family.
In spite of the symbolic features of this role, the Japanese hold enormous respect for their emperor.
The emperor makes a speech to the public only on rare occasions. The last time was after Tokyo Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011.
When Can You Enter The Tokyo Imperial Palace?
The inner gardens and buildings of the Japanese Palace are closed to the public except on January 2 (New Year’s Greeting) and December 23 (Emperor’s Birthday) when the imperial family makes a public appearance.
Ippon Sanga is one of two days of the year on which the Palace opens its doors. Ippon Sanga is among the only two occasions in Japan when the general public is permitted to meet the Emperor and in turn, enter the inner grounds of the Palace.
As this is a rare occasion to catch a glimpse of the Royal family, Japanese and many foreigners to gather on the palace grounds in the early morning hours. The current Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, and several other members of the Imperial Family meet the general public and exchange greetings and wishes.
The ritual begins from 9.30 in the morning and continues till 3 in the afternoon. The Royal family appears at an hourly interval at the palace balcony screened with bulletproof glass.
See More: Tokyo Events By Month
Imperial Palace Tokyo Address
Otemachi gate is best for entering the Palace. The easiest way to get there is by Tokyo Subway. You can take any line to:
- Nijubashi-mae Station: 10-minute walk
- Tokyo Station (Marunouchi Central Exit): 15-minute walk
- Otemachi Station (c13b Exit): 5-minute walk
- Takebashi Station (1a Exit): 5-minute walk
See More: Tokyo Subway Map
The Japanese imperial palace is also within walking distance from Marunouchi, an area bubbling with bars, restaurants, upscale shops, culture, and Entertainment.
See More: Marunouchi Area Guide: Restaurants, Hotels, Shopping, Things To Do
When Can You Visit The Imperial Palace Gardens?
The Japanese Imperial Palace Gardens are open to the public daily except Mondays and Fridays. The entrance is free.
Opening Hours:9:00 am-16:30 pm (Mar. to Oct)
9:00 am-16:00 pm (Nov. to Feb)
There are guided tours of the palace. The residential parts are not included in this tour.
If you’d like to join a tour, you have to book in advance: Palace Tour
Imperial Palace Tokyo East Garden
The Palace Gardens are especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season, and also during plum blossom (March and April). This area is very popular for Hanami – Cherry Blossom viewing.
See More: Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival
Imperial Palace Tokyo Secrets
In 1868, when the Shoguns lost their power, the palace became the official residence of the new Emperor Meiji. The Emperor relocated the capital from Kyoto to Edo and renamed Edo the present-day name Tokyo.
The Tokyo Palace was destroyed by bombings during World War II. It was rebuilt in the same style in 1968. So what you see today is relatively new, but looks so traditional Japanese…
Emperors have ruled over Japan for more than 1500 years, and they all came from the same family.
The power of the emperors was limited or purely symbolic throughout most of Japan’s history. The shoguns were the ones who actually ruled Japan.
After world war 2 Japanese people accepted the constitution of 1946 that states that the emperor has only a symbolic function.
These days he mainly participates in ceremonies and diplomatic meetings but has no real political power. He is however a very strong spiritual leader for the Japanese people.
In 1989, Emperor Akihito became Japan’s 125th emperor. He is married to Empress Michiko, the first empress who did not come from the aristocracy. Their eldest son is Crown Prince Naruhito.
More: A Brief History Of Japan