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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Imperial Palace 皇居エリア

Garden strolls, art treasures and tours within an Imperial castle's grounds

Home to the Emperor of Japan, the Imperial Palace is built upon the site of Edo Castle, home to the Shogun before 1868. Protected by wide moats and thick walls and surrounded by meticulously kept gardens, the grounds offer a peaceful green escape from the steel and glass of downtown Tokyo's modern office buildings.

Runners, cyclists and strolling couples and families frequent the palace grounds, and so can you. There are tours of the grounds as well, and you can get in to see the Imperial art collection for free.

Don't Miss

  • Tours of the inner palace grounds — the only way to see the Emperor's home
  • The seasonal flowers and castle ruins in the East Garden
  • Taking advantage of the free admission to the Imperial art collection

How to Get There

The Imperial Palace is extensive, and can be reached from several different gates and metro stations.

The Ote-mon gate is one of the most popular options, since it connects directly to the East Garden. The gate is a five-minute walk from the Otemachi subway station, or a 15-minute walk from Tokyo Station.

The Hirakawa-mon and Kita-hanebashi-mon gates are located closer to Kitanomaru Park; both are a five-minute walk from Takebashi Station on the Tozai metro line.

Tokyo's own Central Park

Although much smaller than in its heyday, the grounds of the Imperial Palace extend for several kilometers and are divided into four main parts. Three are open to visitors — the Outer Garden, East Garden and Kitanomaru Park. The inner palace area can only be visited on special tours, which depart from the Kikyo-mon Gate.

Japanese gardens and woodlands surrounded by skyscrapers

Each of the three gardens has its own character. The Outer Garden is the most urban, offering views of the towering skyscrapers of busy Marunouchi that contrast with the Meiji era (1868-1912) Nijubashi bridge and black pines.

Housing Ninomaru — an Edo period (1603-1867) garden — the East Gardens are a delightful secret park filled with blooming flowers, ancient walls and the elegant Suwano tea house. A few guardhouses from the period have also survived.

This is where you can find the Museum of Imperial Collections, a free museum featuring rare works of art and historical artifacts from the Imperial collection.

A view of the Suwano teahouse

Kitanomaru Park is full of little brooks. The park houses the Nippon Budokan hall — a large event space holding everything from judo to rock and roll — the Science Museum and the National Museum of Modern Art.

Sights beyond the palace

Thanks to its central location, there are lots of cultural sights and things to do around the perimeter of the palace. Near Tokyo Station are the Idemitsu Museum, Tokyo International Forum (which also houses the Mitsuo Aida Museum) and the elegant shops of Marunouchi.

In the northwest corner of the palace's moats is Chidori-ga-fuchi, where you can rent a boat and view the castle walls from a duck's-eye view. A short walk from Kitanomaru Park are the moving exhibits at the Showakan and huge torii gates of Yasukuni Shrine.

To the west, you can find the National Diet Building and the National Theater, which hosts traditional kabuki, noh, and other performances. Next to theater is the Traditional Performing Arts Information Centre, full of costumes, props and archive footage.

Keywords

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