The Imperial Palace of Tokyo

There were parts of the Imperial Palace that I was not able to visit, but the free tour that I took last year was among the highlights of my time in this part of Tokyo. It is even today the main residence of the Emperor of Japan, much like Buckingham Palace in London is home to Queen Elizabeth II. In the 1980s, the Imperial Palace had a real estate value superior to that of everything in the entire state of California!

Map of the Palace grounds (courtesy of Japanese Fellowship)
Map of the Palace grounds (courtesy of Japanese Fellowship)

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There is a moat all around the palace, and two bridges connect the outer side where you can begin your journey to the inner grounds of the palace. However, you are usually only able to visit the inner grounds on select days of the year. Otherwise this area remains off-limits to the general public at all other times. The Imperial Palace East Gardens are the parts of the compound open to all visitors throughout the year.

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The architecture on display was amazing, and truly fitting for Emperors.

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Standing at the top of the former Edo Castle tower within the Palace grounds

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In the spring, these palace grounds are awash with bright colours, but even on darker days in the winter, there is still a lot of peace to be found from walking around the gardens. There are remnants of old castles and forts, which were once destroyed and were never attempted to have been rebuilt since. I walked up one of these old towers myself and although it is not very high, I still enjoyed the view and wondered about what it was like when it stood tall and grand back in the Edo period.

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I very much enjoyed the Ninomaru Gardens. It seems all gardens in Japan are intricately manicured and the presentation of these gardens are usually always excellent. The Ninomaru Gardens are found in the second circle of the Palace and lie in the area where the most important parts of the palace once stood. There are lots of little huts and small buildings where you can take photos and perhaps shelter from the elements.

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