Located at central Tokyo, the Imperial Palace not only serves as the current residence of the Japanese emperor and imperial family but also stands as one of the attractions in Japan. This vast garden compound can give you a relaxing and calming day.
Although the inner grounds are not open to public all the time (it’s only open on two occasions: January 2 for New Year’s Greeting and December 23 for the Emperor’s Birthday), there are other areas of the Imperial Palace that are worth visiting. I suggest spending around two to three hours to explore the areas.
A notable sight is the Nijubashi Bridge. It is a bridge made up of stone and iron, which serves as a connection to the inner grounds. It is surrounded by a moat and lush greens—sights that make the bridge even more attractive even when afar.
What I like about Tokyo is that despite being a busy city, there are green areas like this. For one, the Imperial Palace has a portion with huge parks.
The trees are neatly trimmed with style. Notice that they almost have the same height.
Even if the inside of the palace is not visible, seeing the outer architecture was not bad at all. It looks traditional with its pointed roof and clean white walls.
How to get there: Since Imperial Palace is huge, there are several train stations where you can go down to. As a general tip, make sure you wear comfortable footwear because aside from going around Imperial Palace, the route going to the grounds may require A LOT of walking. In my case, I wore flats. It was comfortable however, my feet froze afterwards. So it's better to wear rubber shoes or anything else that cover the feet if you are planning to go in autumn or winter.
To get to the nearest station from Nijubashi bridge, go down at Nijubashi-mae station of the Chiyoda line. It is also near the Sakuramadon station of the Yurakucho line.
To get to the nearest station from the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, go down at Otemachi station of either Chiyoda, Hanzomon, Marunouchi, Mita or Tozai subway lines. In our case, we took the Tozai subway line. It only took us a five-minute walk to the East Gardens. After passing through the Palace Hotel Tokyo, we went up and saw it right across.
You may also go down at Tokyo station of the JR line. But note that Tokyo Station is a central station where many metro and subway lines are connected. Make sure you take the correct exit. Also, since it’s a huge station, it may around 15 minutes walking to the Imperial Palace.
The Imperial Palace is open daily from 9AM to 5PM, except Fridays and Mondays. Admission is free. For free walking tours that run for 75 minutes (every 10am and 1:30pm), an online or phone reservation is required. For more information, visit the Imperial Household Agency’s website.