Central Tokyo > Chiyoda Ward > Tokyo Imperial Palace
Located to the west of Tokyo Station and occupying some of the most expensive real estate in the world is the Imperial Palace—official residence of the Imperial Family since 1868. Built on the grounds of the former Edo Castle, Tokyo Imperial Palace is surrounded by a moat and comprises of the Inner Grounds, Kitanomaru Park, Imperial Palace East Gardens, and Imperial Palace Outer Gardens.
Unfortunately, visitors often come away from Tokyo Imperial Palace disappointed for the simple reason that they can’t enter the Inner Grounds. The closest you will get to the Imperial Family is walking up the gravel path to the stone bridge (seimon-ishibashi) and taking a photograph of the imposing gates from the other side. The Inner Grounds only open to the public on 2 January for the New Year’s Greetings from the Imperial Family, and the 23 December, the emperor’s birthday. Any other time during the year and you will need to make an application through the online form well in advance. Tours are in Japanese but an English audio guide is also available.
Kitanomaru Park located on the north side contains the Science Museum, National Museum of Modern Art, and the Nippon Budokan—Tokyo’s Royal Albert Hall.
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Nearest stations are Nijubashi-mae (Chiyoda Line) or Otemachi (Chiyoda, Marunouchi, Hanzomon, Mita, Tozai lines). Tokyo and Yurakucho are the nearest JR stations.