Surrounded by the towering skyscrapers of the business and financial district beyond, the Imperial Palace is the center of Tokyo and, in some ways, the heart of Japan. Visit for an insight into Japan’s imperial history.
Imperial Palace - image © Florentyna Leow
The Imperial Palace, or Kokyo in Japanese, is the center of Tokyo and, in some ways, the heart of Japan. The general public can enter the grounds on 23 February (the Emperor's birthday), and on 2 January, when the Imperial Family delivers their annual New Year's greeting.
While most of the grounds are, for obvious reasons, off-limits to the public at almost all times of the year, about a third of the area is open to the public if you join an organized tour hosted by the Imperial Household Agency.
The tour can be booked in advance through their website. Alternatively, simply turn up earlier during the day and join a tour that’s not full. It won’t take you inside the palace grounds, but you’ll at least get to see the exterior of the buildings. The tour lasts 90 minutes, and audio devices in English are available for non-Japanese speakers.
Otherwise, enjoy the views from afar, either across the surrounding moats or from various vantage points in the high buildings nearby. A good spot for this is from the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in the Tokyo Station area.
Imperial Palace - image © Florentyna Leow
Note that you aren’t able to walk through the Imperial East Gardens to reach the Imperial Palace grounds. You’ll need to exit via the Otemon Gate, turn right and follow the signs to the Kikyomon Gate. This is the same place where you’ll register for the tour.
Recently, visiting hours were changed: during the summer months, visits are only permitted in the morning due to high heat and humidity in the afternoons. If you’re in Tokyo during July and August, plan accordingly.
The Imperial Palace
1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8111
About 75 minutes from 10am and 1:30pm
Closed Sunday, Monday and national holidays:
Subway: 10-minute walk from exit D2 of Otemachi Station on the Toei Mita line, and Tokyo Metro Chiyoda, Tozai, Hanzomon and Marunouchi lines.
Train: 15-minute walk from Marunouchi Central exit of Tokyo Station.
Official Website (English)
Near To Here:
The Imperial Palace is located in Tokyo's Imperial Palace district. See our complete list of things to do in Tokyo's Imperial Palace district, including places to eat, nightlife and places to stay.
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