Imperial Palace East Gardens
Imperial Palace East Gardens, Tokyo
The time where the imperial family reigned over Japan has long past, but their influence is strong even today. At the heart of Tokyo you can find their Imperial Palace as well as their impressive East Gardens. The palace unfortunately is closed to the public unless you sign up for a tour. The East Gardens, on the other hand, are free for you to enjoy as long as you go on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Here you will find remnants of a powerful past, along with some outstanding gardens.
Imperial Palace East Gardens History
The East Gardens take up 3.4 square kilometers of land in the very center of Tokyo. In the 1980s the gardens were considered more valuable than all of the real estate located in California. Why so valuable? Located inside the gardens is the remains of the old Edo Castle, also known as the Chiyoda Castle. This castle was built for the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1457 and became the home of the Meiji family when the emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1868. The castle was dismantled during the Meiji Restoration, and the imperial family moved to the newly constructed Imperial Palace.
Imperial Palace East Gardens Attractions
The East Gardens have no shortage of attractions to admire. Here you can find numerous historical buildings, enormous castle walls, and of course beautifully landscaped gardens. Before you even enter in the East Gardens we recommend you walk around the edges of the gardens to the actual palace and examine the Megane Bridge. The name Megane, meaning glasses, was given to this bridge for the image the bridge makes with its reflection in the moat.
Once you’ve seen all there is to see outside, it is time you make your way into the actual gardens where you will be greeted by a couple museums. These museums are free, but are not all that big or even interesting. Feel free to move on right past them. As you move your way through the gardens you will notice enormous walls guiding you through the park. These walls once served to protect the Shogun and even for a short time, the imperial family. There is even a moat with in the park for added protection.
As you work your way further into the gardens you will come across some beautiful ponds and flower gardens. These are the more traditional gardens, and possibly some of the more photogenic areas in the entire East Gardens. The garden paths lead all over the place and it is very easy to miss a large portion of the park, we recommend using a guide or downloading a map before coming or you are likely to miss out on this.
Towards our recommended exit, you will finally reach the remains of Edo Castle. This stone base is roughly 41 meters wide and 45 meters long, which would have held one impressive castle. From the top of the base you can see a good portion of the park, and even though it lacks an actual castle, there is something beautiful about its remains. We guarantee that it will be one of the more memorable sights of your time in the East Gardens.
What You Need to Know
- Admission: Free
- Hours: 9:00 – 16:30 Closed on Mondays and Fridays
- Directions: A five minute walk from Otemachi Station
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