Imperial Palace East Gardens 皇居東御苑
Flowers and woodlands in the gardens built on Edo Castle's ruins
Part of the inner palace area, the East Gardens offer seasonal flowers and ancient Japanese gardens surrounded by original moats, walls, entrance gates and guardhouses built by the Tokugawa shoguns. These wonders are free to enter, making a visit here one of the best bargains around.
Emperor Meiji lived here from 1868 to 1888 before moving to the new Imperial Palace
The Museum of Imperial Collections exhibits artworks owned by the imperial family
How to Get There
This venue is accessible by train and taxi.
The Ote-mon gate was once the principal entrance to Edo Castle , making it a convenient place to begin your visit to the East Garden. The gate is a five-minute walk from Otemachi Station on the Chiyoda, Tozai, Marunouchi, Hanzomon and Mita subway lines, and a 15-minute walk from Tokyo Station .
The Emperor's secret garden
Kokyo Higashi Gyoen extends over 210,000 square meters, located on the ground where Edo Castle's two innermost defensive walls once stood. The Honmaru section contains a vast lawn, which outlines where the main keep used to be, while the Ninomaru section houses the last remaining Edo Period garden in Japan, which is particularly pretty in fall.
Within the grounds you can also find the photogenic Suwano-chaya teahouse, Museum of Imperial Collections , and Gakubu music department and concert hall.
Climbing the walls
While you're exploring, you'll likely come across the foundations of the former castle tower, which was completed in 1638 but sadly was destroyed in a citywide fire not long after. These days you can climb to the top of the ruins to get a panoramic view of the Imperial gardens.
Colorful flowers throughout the year
Dozens of different flowers and orchards line the walkways, so there are plants blooming all year round. In winter, the plum tree slope brings a pop of color to the stone walls, while in fall the Musashino copse glows in gold and scarlet. Gaze up at the "symbolic prefectural trees," wander through the iris garden or take photos of the cherry trees. Check the Imperial Household Agency's website to see their flower calendar when planning your visit.