Akasaka Palace—the only neobaroque building in Japan—was built in 1909 as the residence of the Crown Prince of Japan, but in 1975 was turned into the State Guest House. As a result, many very important international guests have stayed here and continue to do so. The central Tokyo palace is open to visitors when dignitaries aren’t in town.
Akasaka Palace, a National Treasure of Japan, was built on the site of a large Edo-era (1603-1868) estate belonging to the Tokugawa clan. It is one of Japan’s largest and best remaining examples of a Meiji-era (1868-1912) building. A surprising bit of European aesthetic in Japan, the building and grounds are popular with locals and visitors alike.
The palace is often visited on sightseeing tours of the surrounding Akasaka area as well as some themed tours that focus on Japanese history and architecture. Independent visitors wanting to see the building can book tickets online for a specific time slot; you pay upon arrival. The grounds are free to explore and require no advance booking.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Akasaka Palace is ideal for architecture and design enthusiasts.
- While you may be able to get a ticket at the door, people with online reservations get priority during busy times.
- There are different entrance fees to view the exterior only or the interior. Audio guides cost extra.
- Photography inside the palace is not permitted.
- Security lines at the building entrance can be long, so don’t bring large bags.
- There are elevators and accessible restrooms, but the front and back garden areas are covered in stone and gravel, so are not so easy to navigate in a wheelchair.
How to Get There
The palace is located in the Akasaka area of central Tokyo, not far from Meiji Jingu, Shinjuku Park, and Roppongi. The closest train station is Yotsuya, on the JR Chuo Line. As with elsewhere in Tokyo, it’s advisable to take the train rather than a car or taxi.
When to Get There
The palace is open from 10am to 5pm Thursday through Tuesday except when foreign dignitaries are staying there. Visits—even prebooked ones—may be canceled at short notice if a dignitary is visiting.
Visit the Tokyo Imperial Palace
Royal watchers may want to combine a visit to the Akasaka Palace with the Tokyo Imperial Palace, whose inner grounds are open to the public only twice a year: on December 23 (Emperor’s Birthday) and January 2, when the Imperial Family makes appearances on their balcony. On the other 363 days of the year, you can get a guided tour of the palace grounds with prior booking, or free access to the East Gardens.