This is the fourth of the six posts about Edo Castle.
In this post, I will write about the east garden of the Imperial Palace.
- Part 1: Outline of Edo Castle
- Part 2: Kokyo Gaien, Wadakura Funsui Koen
- Part 3: Kokyo Higashi Gyoen
- Part 4: the Imperial Palace, Inui Street (this page)
- Part 5: Kitanomaru Koen
- Part 6: Outer moats
the Imperial Palace
the Imperial Palace, known as Kokyo (皇居) in Japan, is literally where the world's last remaining Imperial family live. In the Edo period, this area was not the center of the Edo Castle - it was used for a huge garden, mausoleums (graves were not located here) of past shoguns, and residences of shoguns' heirs or retired shoguns.
You can get into some part of this area when the Imperial family members greet citizens on the Emperor's Birthday (present emperor's is Dec 23) or on New Year Greetings (Jan 2). (You can also join a tour conducted on weekdays through an application. See here.)
The exit routes you can take after you leave the square in front of the palace are slightly different between these two days. Look at the map at the bottom of this page. The red lines are courses you can take on the 23rd of December. (These are almost same as routes of above mentioned weekday tours.) Adding to these, you can also get out passing through Higashi Gyoen (the East Garden) on this day. As for January 2nd, though you cannot exit through Higashi Gyoen, you can take an exit route going north shown as the green line, but you must note that the greetings held on the morning of January 2nd is extremely crowded.
From here we will look at moats you can see if you walk around the castle. A lot of people jog along this path.
Fukiage Gyoen (吹上御苑) is the vast off-limit area where Gosho (present emperor's private palace), Kyuchu Sanden (his private shrine), Fukiage Omiya Gosho (private palace of late Emperor Showa) and what not are located. Though you cannot see these, you can see what it's like a little through the satellite imagery provided through Google Maps below.
This area is now covered by dense forest, but there also was a golf course here until 1937. After Emperor Showa decided to return this area to nature, this place became a forest you can see now. Though it's in the very heart of Tokyo, there live wide range of wild animals which disappeared from surrounding areas including goshawks, and occasionally new species of plants and insects are discovered.
The Imperial Palace
Imperial House Agency official English website
Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
The red lines are routes you can take on the Emperor's Birthday (Other than these you can also get out passing through Higashi Gyoen). The green line is a course you can additionally take on New Year's Greetings (But you cannot go through Higashi Gyoen on this day).