The heart of the city is an impressive expanse of greenery and flowers surrounded by the ancient moats of Edo Castle and the imposing buildings of the business district of Marunouchi. This is where the Emperor lives and the castle is completely off limits to us common folk. Visitors will just have to be happy with seeing the Prussian-inspired Nijubashi Bridge that leads to the imperial gate, which opens onto the castle grounds. However, organised visits of the Palace Courtyard take place twice a week but just remember to book in advance. Although you cannot visit the castle itself, we do recommend you come here to stroll around the Kokyo Higashi Gyoen Garden (Imperial Palace East Garden) and discover the many plant species. You can also see the remains of the old Edo Castle and even visit the Sannomaru Shozokan (Museum of the Imperial Collections).
The Prussian-inspired bridge leads to the Emperor's gate, behind which lies his residence.© Pascal Bagot
There are many plant species that make up this garden, which itself is a breath of fresh air in the middle of a very dense urban jungle.© Pascal Bagot
The palace stands on what was once the site of Edo Castle and its former keep can still be seen.© Ziggymars / 123RF
All of the walls are surrounded by a moat with evenly spaced out guard posts.© Haveseen / 123RF
Two guards stand watch at the access to Nijubashi Bridge, which leads to the residence of the imperial family.© Pascal Bagot