Tokyo's Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan and the imperial family. Set in the center of Tokyo and surrounded by the Imperial Palace gardens, the residence was constructed where the original Edo Castle once stood.
While the palace interior and some of the grounds are closed to the public, a photo stop here is a must-do for travelers. Usually, the only area accessible to visitors is the palace's East Gardens, set at the foot of the hill where Edo Castle's foundation remains. The natural pond, manicured trees, and ancient stone bridges that comprise the Imperial Palace Outer Garden (Kokyo Gaien), the Imperial Palace East Garden (Kokyo Higashi Gyoen), and Kita-no-maru-koen Park are all open to the public free of charge.
Combine a stop at this scenic and historical spot with visits to other Tokyo attractions, including the Asakusa district, the National Diet Building, and the State Guest House. Some combo tours allow travelers to stop for photos at the palace and also experience a Sumida River cruise, participate in traditional tea ceremonies, or head up to the top of Tokyo Tower.To see the Imperial Palace interior, travelers must book an official tour with the Imperial Household Agency. Advance and same-day reservations are available for tours in Japanese only.
Be prepared for large crowds when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Itís free to stop at the palace for photos, but various museums on the grounds may require admission fees.
Most full- and half-day guided tours include roundtrip transportation.
How to Get to the Imperial Palace
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is located in a large park area in the Chiyoda ward of central Tokyo, accessible by foot from Otemachi Station on the Chiyoda, Mita, Hanzomon, Marunouchi, and Tozai lines. Otemon Gate is the main entrance point.
When to Get There
The gardens are open Tuesday through Thursday and on Saturday and Sunday (they are closed on Monday and Friday).
Visiting the Imperial Palace During Cherry Blossom Season
During Sakura, the spring cherry blossom season, more of the palace grounds with old trees are open to the public. It's definitely worth a visit during this time, but be prepared for vast crowds and a thorough security process.