The Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan and his family. More specifically, the family lives in Fukiage Palace which is located on the grounds of the Imperial Palace. The Emperor’s family currently consists of Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako, and Princess Aiko. If you would like to visit the Imperial Palace, the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace are open to the public. The gardens are open on weekends and Tuesday-Thursday from 9 AM to between 4 PM and 6 PM, depending on the season. Please access the following website for exact times: https://www.kunaicho.go.jp/e-event/higashigyoen02.html.
During my time at the Imperial Palace, I visited the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. By entering through the Hirakawa-mon Gate, I walked to the Tenshu-dai, which serves as the base of the main tower.
Tenshu-dai offers a great view of the Site of Ooku and other buildings in the nearby area. Ooku was the women’s quarters of Edo Castle where the women connected to the current shogun resided. Today, the site is a large patch of grass commonly used as a resting place for visitors. Honmaru O-shibafu lawn is another popular resting spot located just south of the site of Ooku.
From the grass patches, we walked south to Fujimi-yagura, which served as a turret where the shogun watched Mt. Fuji.
After admiring the beauty of Fujimi-yagura, we walked towards the Ote-mon Gate, passing by the Hyaku-nin-bansho and Doshin-bansho guardhouses. After passing through Ote-mon Gate and exiting the palace grounds, we walked southwest to get to Kokyo Gaien National Garden. Kokyo Gaien is a very nice garden just outside of the palace grounds that offers picturesque views of the Nijubashi Moat and its accompanying bridge. The area is a great spot to take pictures of Fushimi-yagura, a watchtower that once stood on the grounds of Fushimi Castle before being moved to its current location, with the moat and bridge in the foreground.
The Imperial Palace is a must-visit location in Tokyo for those wanting to experience Japanese culture and/or some great gardens and scenery. I recommend about an hour to an hour and a half for the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace since it does require quite a bit of walking to make your way fully across it.