Tokyo Imperial Palace

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Located on the original site of Edo Castle, the Imperial Palace is home to the Emperor and visitors explore the gardens, ruins and galleries located here. A short stroll from Tokyo Station, the 1.3 square miles are thought to be the most expensive land in Japan. Originally the residence of Edo Shigetsugu, a renowned warrior, it later became the site of the Edo Castle. Strengthened with moats and close to a beach (now Hibiya) the castle was the scene of many battles and was claimed by various rulers over the centuries. While little remains of the original castle structure due to fires, earthquakes and battles, the foundations can still be seen in the East Gardens. To protect the privacy and safety of the Emperor and his family, the majority of the grounds are off-limits to the public, but some sections are available to explore freely or through official tours. The East Gardens, Kitanomaru Koen Park and Kokyo Gaien National Garden are all open and free to explore with jogging routes looped around them. The East Gardens are the most interesting of the three and are found in the innermost circle of the Edo Castle site. Created from one of the last Edo-gardens in existence, you can see manicured gardens and relax on the large lawn area. A highlight of the Kokyo Gardens is the Ninomaru Bridge, famed for its reflection in the moat below and nicknamed the double bridge. In Spring, the grounds are filled with cherry blossom, especially around Kitanomaru Park. Once a medicinal garden, the area has a blossom-lined moat with row boats which are exceptionally popular during hanami season. Renting a bike is a great way to explore the grounds and there is a free audio-tour app you can download for extra information about the palace. Within the grounds you can find the National Museum of Modern Art, the Nippon Budokan and the Science Museum. Tours are available for free but require registration - although this can be done on the day. They take place twice each day and take one hour and fifteen minutes.
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  • Imperial Palace, 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tōkyō-to 100-8111, Japan
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    Family friendly

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