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Tokyo Imperial Palace and Meganebashi bridge

Japan Travelogue Series: Tokyo Imperial Palace

One of the must-see spots in Tokyo is the Tokyo Imperial Palace (皇居). Also called Kōkyo, it is the main residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. Located in Chiyoda area, the Palace is composed of several interconnected buildings, including the main palace hall (Kyuden), function halls, and administrative offices. The grounds are a massive park with lush foliage and manicured lawns, surrounded by moats and huge stone walls.

Edo Castle

The fall of the shogunate

Edo Castle, also known as Chiyoda Castle was built in 1457 by Ōta Dōkan, known in Japanese history as a samurai warrior-poet, military tactician and Buddhist monk.  Today it’s a part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Tokugawa Ieyasu, upon establishing the Tokugawa shogunate, made Edo castle the residence of the shōgun and location of the shogunate. Edo castle was the military capital at time and a powerful domain.

After the fall of the shogunate and the Meiji Restoration, the inhabitants of Edo Castle were ordered to vacate the premises. When the Emperor left the Kyoto Imperial Palace in November of 1868, he made Edo Castle his new residence. It was soon renamed as Imperial Castle (皇城, Kōjō).

Beautiful palace gardens

The outer gardens are open to the public for most of the year. The East Garden is probably the most popular with its little bridges, grassy knolls, ponds, and flowering trees. Its gorgeous landscape reflects Japanese aesthetics. Most of the Palace’s administrative offices are located here, including the Imperial Tokagakudo Music Hall, the Archives, Mausolea Department Imperial Household Agency, and the Museum of the Imperial Collections.

Join Michelle as she tours us inside the Palace grounds. Revel in the grandeur and beauty of the Imperial Palace.

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Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!