Japanese garden

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Imperial Palace East Garden


Crafted from part of the original castle compound, these lovely free gardens allow you to get close-up views of the massive stones used to build the castle walls, and even climb the ruins of one of the donjons (main keeps), off the upper lawn. The number of visitors at any one time is limited, so it never feels crowded. Most people enter through Ōte-mon, the closest gate to Tokyo Station, and once the principal entrance to Edo-jō.

Don't miss the Ninomaru Grove, a woodland area that is one of the prettiest parts of the garden, with a pond and the elegant teahouse, Suwa-no-chaya. The large lawn is where the Honmaru, the castle's central compound, was once located.

Just inside the gate you may want to drop by the Museum of Imperial Collections, which mounts small exhibits of the 9500-plus artworks owned by the imperial family.

Free two-hour guided walking tours of the gardens are offered on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; meet at the JNTO Tourist Information Center before 1pm. The gardens are closed on Mondays and Fridays except for national holidays; see website for further detail.

Other entrances to the gardens are via the gates Hirakawa-mon and Kitahanebashi-mon.

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1. Museum of Imperial Collections

0.14 MILES

This small museum inside the Imperial Palace East Garden hosts changing exhibitions drawn from the 9500-plus artworks owned by the imperial family.

2. Tōkagakudō Concert Hall

0.16 MILES

Built in 1966 for the 60th birthday of Empress Kojun, this concert hall inside the Imperial Palace East Garden has a petal-shaped roof and outer scalloped…

3. Tenshudai

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Near the north exit of the Imperial Palace East Garden, all that remains of the main keep (donjon) of Edo-jō is its sloping stone base, which you can…

4. Ōte-mon

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Ōte-mon, meaning 'great hand gate', was the main entrance to Edo-jō and would have had a guard of 120 men. It is now the main gate to the Imperial Palace…

5. Kikyō-mon

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Kikyō-mon is one of the main original gates to Edo-jō. This is the departure point for official tours of parts of the Imperial Palace grounds.

6. Kitahanebashi-mon

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Meaning 'northern drawbridge gate' this was the principal entrance to the north side of Edo-jō and now provides access to the Imperial Palace East Garden…

7. Hirakawa-mon

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This side gate to the San-no-maru (third compound) of the castle was used mainly by maidservants.

8. Wadakura Fountain Park


Just to the northeast corner of Kōkyo-gaien Plaza, this small park has two fountains that were built to commemorate the weddings of past Emperor Akihito…