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Tokyo Imperial Palace remains the primary residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. Much like residences for heads of state around the world, the palace buildings and inner gardens are not open to the public. However, twice a year (December 23 and January 2), you can enter the inner palace gardens to see the Imperial Family waving from a balcony.
The ancient name for Tokyo was Edo. From the 1600s to 1867, shoguns ruling Edo occupied this site in central Tokyo, living in Edo Castle. In 1868, when the shogunate was displaced, Japan moved its capital from Kyoto to Tokyo and occupied the Edo Castle site. After fire destroyed much of the complex, they built a new imperial palace in 1888.
Take note of the stone walls and towers and the Nijubashi bridges crossing the moat from outer to inner palace grounds. They are reminiscent of structures on the site hundreds of years ago when moats and ramparts served a critical protective function.
To the east of the residence is the Imperial Palace East Garden, which is open to the public daily, except Mondays and Fridays. The venue offers peaceful green spaces and ponds with a landscaped Japanese garden. Relics from early castle walls are visible. Nearby are the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, the MOMAT Kogeikan Crafts Gallery and the Science Museum.
Just north of the palace is Kitanomaru Park, a public area that is the site of Nippon Budokan Hall. The Budokan is a world famous martial arts, wrestling and music performance center that has hosted international stars from The Beatles to Taylor Swift. The Yasukuni Shrine is a short walk northwest.
The palace is located in the center of Tokyo on a 1.3-square mile (3.4-square kilometer) site. It is just a few minutes from Tokyo station. Otemachi station is the closest to the East Garden and Kudanshita is closest to Budokan.
Would you like to make your stop at Tokyo Imperial Palace even more unforgettable? Remember to try one or two of these things to do:
When preparing for your trip, you might want to consider purchasing a Full-Day Sightseeing Bus Tour in Tokyo with Cruise and a Private Half-Day Taxi Tour.
For more activities, take a look at our Tokyo things to do page.
Located in Chiyoda, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum and Tokyo Imperial Palace. Imperial Palace Garden and Kabuki-za Theatre are also within 1 mile (2 km). Tokyo Station is only a 2-minute walk and Otemachi Station is 5 minutes.
This family-friendly Tokyo hotel is located in the historical district, within 1 mi (2 km) of Nissay Theatre, Tokyo Imperial Palace and National Diet Building. Tokyo Tower and Imperial Palace Garden are also within 2 miles (3 km). Hibiya Station is only a 4-minute walk and Uchisaiwaicho Station is 6 minutes.
Located in Suidobashi, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Koishikawa Botanical Garden and Tokyo Dome. Yasukuni Shrine and Akihabara Electric Town are also within 1 mi (2 km). Suidobashi Station and Tokyo Suidobashi Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Shiodome, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza Six and Ginza Graphic Gallery. Kabuki-za Theatre and Ginza Wako Building are also within 1 mi (2 km). Shiodome Station and Tokyo Shiodome Station are within a 5-minute walk.
This family-friendly Tokyo hotel is located in the business district, within a 5-minute walk of Wadakura Fountain Park, Museum of the Imperial Collections and Masakado Kubizuka. Marunouchi Building and Imperial Palace Garden are also within 10 minutes. Otemachi Station is 7 minutes by foot and Nijubashimae Station is 8 minutes.
Located in Shiodome, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tsukiji Fish Market, Kabuki-za Theatre and Ginza Wako Building. Hibiya Park and Zojoji Temple are also within 1 mi (2 km). Shiodome Station and Tokyo Shiodome Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Akasaka, this luxury hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Suntory Hall, National Diet Building and Tokyo Tower. Tokyo Imperial Palace and Nezu Art Museum are also within 2 miles (3 km). Tameike-sanno Station is 5 minutes by foot and Roppongi-itchome Station is 6 minutes.
Located in Chiyoda, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery and Yasukuni Shrine. National Diet Building and Imperial Palace Garden are also within 1 mile (2 km). Hanzomon Station is only a 2-minute walk and Kojimachi Station is 8 minutes.