KCP Students Visit the Imperial Palace in Japan

KCP Spring 2018 Students Visit the Imperial Palace

The Tokyo Imperial Palace (皇居), also called Kōkyo, is the main residence of Japan’s Imperial Family.


Located in Chiyoda area, the Palace is composed of several interconnected buildings, including the main palace hall (Kyūden), function halls, and administrative offices. The grounds are a massive park with lush foliage and manicured lawns, surrounded by moats and huge stone walls. The Imperial Palace is located at the center of Tokyo and is a short walk from Tokyo station.

Off in the distance is the Imperial Palace. The palace itself is well guarded but citizens are allowed to walk around the perimeter of the property.

Edo Castle was initially the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled over the whole of Japan from 1603 to 1867. After the shogunate was overthrown, the people who lived in Edo Castle, including the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu, were required to leave the premises. The Emperor who resided at the Kyoto Imperial Palace left it on the 26th of November 1868 to move to the Edo Castle. He made it his new residence and renamed it Tōkei Castle (東京城 Tōkei-jō). Tokyo at the time was also called Tōkei. The Emperor went back to Kyoto again and finally returned on the 9th of May 1869 and yet again renamed the Imperial Castle (皇城 Kōjō). There were many mishaps that occurred that caused fires and burned down the Imperial palace, but in 1888 construction of a new palace was completed and renamed (宮城 Kyūjō). World War II caused much damage as well but the palace was later rebuilt in the same style and finally renamed Kōkyo.

The present Imperial Palace has the retrenchments of the former Edo Castle. The more modern palace, Kyūden, is designed to be more functional for various imperial court events and receptions and is located in the old Nishinomaru section of the palace grounds.

KCP Spring 2018 students visited the Tokyo Imperial Palace recently as part of their culture trip to better experience the history of Japan. See more pictures here.