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Tokyo Imperial Palace

Tour the royal family residence and grounds, as well as museums, a national war shrine and more.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.2 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview:  The Tokyo Imperial Palace is where the Japanese Imperial family lives, as well as the grounds of several administrative buildings, a... more »

Tips:  For the most part, the inner workings of the palace and residents are closed to the public. However, there are two times a year that... more »

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Points of Interest

Start this guide at Otemachi station, where you can head directly to the Imperial Palace grounds and visit the East Gardens, which are open to the public.

The East Gardens are open to the public without needing to fill out an application. The East Gardens are the former grounds of the Edo Castle, built long ago before the Imperial Palace.

While none of the original buildings from the Edo Castle days exist, there are several moats, walls, and entrance gates still to be found. Edo Castle was the... More

Established in 1993, the collection of 6,000 art pieces from around the globe was donated to the Japanese government by the Imperial family.

It's available for viewing to the public during these times:
-From March 1 to April 14
9:00 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. (admission until 4:00 p.m.)
-From April 15 to the end of August
9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. (admission... More

The MOMAT (東京国立近代美術 Tōkyō Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan) was the first National Museum of Art in Japan and dates back to 1952. The collection includes many Meiji period Japanese artists as well as some Western prints. In addition to the Art Museum, the MOMAT has a crafts annex (below) and Film Center.

There is a museum shop and restaurant inside.

... More

5. MOMAT Kogeikan Crafts Gallery

The red brick building of the Crafts Gallery was built in 1910 and designed by Yasushi Tamura, an army engineer, as the headquarters of the Imperial Guards. Opened in 1977, the Crafts Gallery has a collection of textiles, ceramics, lacquer, and other Japanese crafts, as well as those from around the world from the late 19th century to the present.... More

With a unique star-shaped facade, the Science Museum is popular with children on school trips. It was founded by the Japan Science Foundation in 1964 to promote public understanding of science and technology. Exhibits are mostly interactive and you're encouraged to play with them.


The adult single rate is 700 yen, junior/senior high school... More

Within a couple minutes walk from the Science Museum stands Nippon Budokan, an indoor arena that held the judo games during the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo. It's symbolized by the octagonal roof and the golden ornamental railing at the top.

In addition to being a center for martial arts, live music is performed here. Incidentally, this is... More

The Yasukuni Shrine honors more than 2 million Japanese that died while serving their country and Emperor, including those who served during World War II and were sentenced to death by Allied Forces. It houses one of the few war museums dedicated to World War II. It is often the subject of controversy as several Japanese politicians, including... More

This cemetery, built in 1959, houses remains of over 350,000 unidentified servicemen, military personnel, and ordinary citizens who died during World War II.

2 Sanban-cho,
Tokyo 102-0075

Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery
Administration Office
Phone: O3-3262-2030, FAX 03-3222-1657
Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery
Memorial... More

10. Italian Cultural Institute, Tokyo

Controversial because neighbors feel the red color of the building detracts from the surroundings, the Italian Cultural Institute definitely stands out. The architect Gae Aulenti wanted to express solidarity with Japan and its flag colors. This 12-story institute opened in 2005 and since the Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema has defended... More

11. British Embassy of Japan

Provides consular assistance to British nationals in Japan. There is another embassy located in Osaka.

No 1 Ichiban-cho
Tokyo 102-8381
Tel: (3) 5211-1100

12. National Theater of Japan

The National Theatre of Japan (国立劇場 Kokuritsu Gekijō) is operated by the Japan Arts Council, an Independent Administrative Institution of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. It primarily stages performances of traditional Japanese performing arts, such as kabuki and buyo, a mixture of dance and pantomime.

For a... More

13. Supreme Court of Japan

The highest court in Japan which can interpret the Japanese constitution, decide questions of national law, and exercise power of judicial review. The court moved to this building in 1974, which was designed by architect Shinichi Okada -- it won the Architecture Institute of Japan Prize for Design.

4-2 Hayabusa-cho
Tokyo 102-8651
Tel:... More

From Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, visitors can view the Nijubashi, which are two bridges, "ni" meaning two in Japanese. The bridges form an entrance to the inner palace grounds, which are not open to the public except at New Years and on December 23, the Emperor's Birthday.

The stone bridge in front is called... More

15. Kusonogi Masahige Statue

This statue honors the 14th century samurai Kusunoki Masashige (楠 正成), who fought for Emperor Go-Daigo. Masahige is remembered for his unwavering loyalty to Go-Daigo, who wanted to wrestle power away from the ruling Kamakura shogunate. Go Daigo essentially commanded that Masahige fight a battle against superior forces that would mean certain death... More

End the tour at Tokyo Central Station, the busiest station in Japan in terms of how many trains pass through. Most bullet trains, or Shinkansen, start or end their journey here. There are several lines that run through here, including JR and Tokyo Metro lines.