Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Autumn at Tokyo's Imperial Palace

Photo: Guilhem Vellut on Flickr

Autumn at Tokyo's Imperial Palace

Bjorn Koolen

As the autumn equivalent of cherry blossom viewing, the viewing of leafs changing colors to different shades of green, gold and red is one of the Japanese most favorite times of the year. As you might imagine it is quite tricky to find the right spot to view the tree leafs changing in a metropolis as Tokyo. However, one spot attracts over 300.000 visitors in just a few days each year, Tokyo’s Imperial Palace.


Photo : Hideya HAMANO on Flickr
From the 3d until the 7th of December the Imperial Palace’s inner Inui-dori opens to the public. With people lining up in the early morning the massive flow of people is carefully directed by countless of officials to ensure everyone can enjoy the stroll from the Sakashita gate through the heart of the Imperial Palace. Although the street is only a bit over half a kilometer long the about 60 beautiful Japanese and trident maples trees lining it and the sneak peek of the palace grounds are a rare treat for the eyes. It should be no surprise that people try to make as many pictures as possible, which of course creates several blockages every few dozen meters. Nonetheless, do not despair there is no need for anyone to hurry through the pathway rather than taking one’s time and enjoy the experience to the fullest.


Photo : Guilhem Vellut on Flickr

Leaving the palace grounds at the end of Inui-dori through the Inui gate, it is a very short walk around the corner to the Kitahanebashi gate towards the Imperial Palace East Gardens, Koukyo Higashi Gyoen, which is open for people to enjoy most of the year. The East Gardens include the remains of the defensive works of the feudal Japanese Edo Castle. The Edo Castle was the former residence of the Tokugawa shogunate who from 1603 to 1867 ruled Japan until Emperor Meiji moved the Imperial Seat from Kyoto to Tokyo and took residence there while the Palace itself was being constructed. Although none of its main buildings remain you can imagine its vastness by seeing the wide moats, thick walls and massive entrance gates with numerous guardhouses scattered around the grounds.


Photo : JenniKate Wallace on Flickr
The beautiful early 19th century Suwa Tea Pavilion and the somewhat out-of-odds-looking octagonal Tokagakudo Concert Hall with an extravagant mosaic tile façade are the most profound buildings within the garden. Near the castle’s old main gate, Ote, also lies the National Police Agency dojo, the Ote Rest House and the Sannomaru Shozokan, or Museum of the Imperial Collection, which exhibits treasures of the Imperial Household. Rests to conclude that a stroll around the Imperial Palace’s beautiful and vast East Gardens complete a truly unique experience in the heart of Tokyo.

Accessing Tokyo’s Imperial Palace and admission fee

The Imperial Palace lies at the heart of Tokyo and can easily be reached by taking the Tokyo Metro to Otemachi Station, Nijubashi-mae Station or Takebashi Station followed by a five to ten minute walk. Another option is to take the JR lines to JR Tokyo Station Marunouchi Kitaguchi through the north exit and following the main street leading up to the Palace for about 15 minutes. There are no admission fees for Inui-dori, the East Gardens or the Museum of the Imperial Collection.