Dating back to the seventeenth century, this impressive seat of power lies at the centre of Tokyo amid gardens and splendid architecture.
When the Japanese government dissolved the Empire of Japan in the mid twentieth-century, the Emperor became the symbolic head of the country. Today the Japanese Imperial family lives in the beautiful Tokyo Imperial Palace complex. At this symbolic seat of global power, gardens, residences, imperial administration buildings, and stunning architecture spread over an area of over 3 kilometres.
First occupied by the ruling powers of Tokyo, then called ‘Edo’, the ‘shoguns’ (rulers) lived in a castle on the present site of the Imperial Palace from the early seventeenth century to the late nineteenth. The Emperor of Japan in 1867 moved the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo and the country’s ruling family has lived here ever since. Despite fires, earthquakes and wars, the site of the palace has been maintained and the buildings always reconstructed.
Relics of the past still remain throughout the complex. Stone walls, towers and the double-arched Nijubashi bridges crossing the moat from the outer to the inner palace grounds hail back to a time when the Emperor and his family were protected by moats and ramparts here.
The gardens around the Tokyo Imperial Palace offer verdant tranquillity. Wander among the traditional Japanese gardens, green spaces and ponds. In the Imperial Palace East Garden, you’ll also find the octahedral Tokagakudo (Peach Blossom Music Hall) built in 1966 and a range of art and craft museums.
As the symbolic heart of Japan, the buildings at Tokyo Imperial Palace preserve and maintain the country’s most important traditions and culture. Both martial arts and the military past are honoured here; at Yasakuni Shrine, commemorating those who died in service to the empire, and the world-famous Nippon Budokan, an arena for many martial arts conferences. But in true Japanese style, the past is not to be segregated from the future. So the Budokan is not only a martial arts arena, but has been a renowned stage for music performances ever since the Beatles wowed audiences in 1966.