Savor the Beauty of the Royal Castle and its Surrounding Gardens in the Imperial Palace.
East gardens of the Imperial Palace are one of its prominent attractions. This region comprises of beautiful gardens and administrative buildings along with the ruins of Edo Castle, which was an engineering marvel of its time. The Castle was burnt and destroyed by a massive fire in 1657. What you see today are the ruins including moats, guard houses, walls, entrance gates and the base of castle tower which was the tallest building in Japan. There you will also find the Imperial Tokagakudo Music Hall, Museum of the Imperial Collections, the Music Department of the Board of Ceremonies of the Imperial Household, and the structures for the guards such as the Saineikan dojo.
Kokyo Gaien is a large park at the entrance of the Palace and was opened for public access in 1949 before which it was counted in the inner palace grounds. It features Nijubashi Bridge that was made of wood, originally. After the construction of the bridge, there was added one extra level to it which is the reason behind its nickname 'double bridge'. Beside the bridge, the park also features the bronze statue of Masashige Kusunoki and Sakuradamon Gate.
Kitanomaru Park is just the wonderland you need to visit for a lovely escape into nature. The beautiful garden comprising flower beds and woodlands is surrounded almost on all sides by a moat. It was opened for public access in the year 1969 to mark the 60th birth anniversary of Emperor Showa. Have a leisure walk in the park or find a spot to relax and take in its majestic beauty. During springtime, do follow the walking path of Chidorigafuchi to enjoy the beautiful vistas of cherry blossoms along the moat. If you are visiting the place between April-November, then do not miss the opportunity of boating in the moat. The park also features the National Museum of Modern Art, Science Museum, and Nippon Budokan.
How to Get Tickets?
The access to the Gardens of Imperial Palace is free for the public all through the year except in an event of royal family functions. You can stroll around as per your wish taking in the divine beauty of the lush greenery spread around. The gardens have jogging tracks for the ones who wish to do more than just walk around. Have a tight schedule? There are guided tours which will cover all the major attractions in much less time. The registration for guided tours can be done online or at the Kikyo-mon Gate.
How To Get Around?
The Palace covers a vast area and you can explore its beauty (except the inner grounds) as per your wish. You can take guided tours which will take you through some prominent attractions of the place.
What Should I Wear?
There is no dress code to the place. As obvious you are not going to visit the inner grounds of the Palace but the park and garden area hence you can wear anything. It would be hot so wear light comfortable clothes and a lot of sunscreens to evade the sun. Also, wear your best walking shoes as the estate is large and you would be walking a lot.
Best Time to Visit
The Imperial Palace gardens are open for public access from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (closing time may extend to 5:00 pm according to season) except on Mondays and Fridays unless for special holiday opening like National holiday or Emperor's birthday. If you wish to see the Imperial family, then plan a trip either on 2nd January when royal family comes into the balcony to give new year greetings or 23rd December which is Emperor's Birthday.
Will I Need a Guide?
The access to the Imperial Palace gardens is free and you can stroll around as per your wish. However, there are guided tours available that will take you to some bonus locations. The tours are organized between 10:00 am to 1:30 pm. There are no charges for the tours but registration needs to be done. You can register for these online in advance or can book a tour at Kikyo-mon Gate. As the entry is limited to a number, it is better to arrive early so as to be able to book the tour on the same day.
How To Get There?
The best option to reach Imperial Palace is via subway. There are several entrances to the Imperial Palace. From Tokyo station, Wadakura-mon gate is hardly a ten-minute walk. If you have to book a tour, then you will have to walk to Kikyo-mon gate which is at a 10-minute walking distance from Nijubashimae Station or Otemachi Station and a 15-minute walk away from Tokyo station.