The Imperial Palace is the current residence of Japan’s emperor. Although traditionally designed, most of the palace seen today is the modern version – completed in 1968. This current palace stands in place of Edo-jo, the Tokugawa shogunate’s castle.
The Imperial Palace is one of the premier attractions to see in Tokyo. Ironically, the actual palace doors only open to visitors only two days of the year – 23rd of December and 2nd January.
But don’t fret! Even if you don’t get to see the interior of an actual Japanese Palace, you can book a tour to explore its imperial grounds.
However, a tour spot requires booking weeks or even months in advance. If you can’t do that and you’re also on a budget, there are other alternative spots worth viewing.
Imperial Palace East Garden
Visit the Imperial Palace East Garden, which is the only spot in the Imperial Palace grounds that is open to the public and is absolutely free. From this spot, you will get a clear view of the original stones that lay down the foundation of the castle walls.
Imperial Palace Plaza
Head to the southwest corner of the Imperial Palace, and you will find the Imperial Palace Plaza. From here, you can perfectly view two remarkable bridges (Nijū-bashi andMegane-bashi) with the Imperial Palace buildings in the background.Nijū-bashi is made of iron whileMegane-bashi is the romantic stone bridge, which I adored.
The literal meaning ofMegane-bashi is ‘Eyeglass Bridge’ because it looks like a pair of eyeglasses through water reflections. Many photos of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace features this very fairytale-like bridge.
Getting to the Imperial Palace is easy when you take the train.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to get to the Imperial Palace Tokyo by Train using the JR Pass.
Board the city train to reach Tokyo Station. All major Shinkansen and JR train Lines terminate at Tokyo Station.
Walk towards the Marunouchi North Exit, and from here head north-west. Once you’re out of the building, cross the street and walk straight. This walk usually lasts about 10-15 minutes.
You will enter the Gardens through the Otemon Gate.
This walking route can be a bit confusing, so if you don’t have GPS or a map with you, I suggest that you ask a local. They are usually helpful and respectful in Tokyo. Just mention Imperial Palace, and they will most likely understand.
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