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Edo Castle 江戸城

Imperial Palace Outer Gardens Imperial Palace Outer Gardens
Imperial Palace Outer Gardens Imperial Palace Outer Gardens

The center of everything, once upon a time in Edo

For 260 years, Edo Castle was home to the powerful Tokugawa shoguns, making it the center of Japan's politics and much intrigue as well. Now the site houses the Imperial Family's palace and residence, as well as serene gardens and several museums that are open to the public.

Quick Facts

The castle grounds once stretched to the Marunouchi District and Tokyo Station

Warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu took possession of the castle in 1590

How to Get There

Access to certain sections of the grounds is restricted and requires reservations. To see the areas open to the public, there are three main entrance gates to choose from.

Otemon Gate: The gate is accessible from several stations. it is around a five-minute walk from Otemachi Station, around 10-minutes walk from Nijubashi-mae Station and around 15-minutes walk from Tokyo Station's Marunouchi North Exit.

Hirakawamon Gate: Located toward the northern side of the grounds, this gate is around a five-minute walk from Takebashi Station.

Kita-hanebashimon Gate: Not far from Hirakawamon, this gate is around a five-minute walk from Takebashi Station.

A city within a city

While Edo Castle's main building sadly burned down in 1863, it is still possible to get a sense of the sheer size of this fortress from the moats, thick walls, bridges and defenses that remain. One of the remaining buildings is the Fujimi-yagura watchtower, which was built in 1659 to protect the southern side of the grounds.

Although the palace complex seems vast today, it was once even larger. In fact, Tokyo Station and the Marunouchi area were once part of the castle grounds.

At the height of the Tokugawa shogunate's military power, the inner compound alone was eight kilometers in circumference, with the outer compound extending to around 16 kilometers. Even the manmade island of Odaiba , now a popular shopping area, was once part of the castle's defense system.

From military stronghold to peaceful park

The current Imperial Palace was not built in the same spot as the Edo Castle's main building, so it is still possible to see the ruins of what was once the biggest castle in Japan. While exploring the grounds, you will pass by the impressive walls and moats of Edo Castle. These now contain the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, where you can climb the foundations of Edo Castle's tower.

Kitanomaru National Garden and its many attractions

Besides elegant Japanese-style gardens, Nippon Budokan , Science Museum, and National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo are all found in Kitanomaru National Garden , which was part of the old castle's grounds. Explore the Chidorigafuchi Park walking path as well if you get the chance.

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.


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