East Garden of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace was within walking distance of our Tokyo hotel. The inner grounds of the Palace are generally not open to the public. The East Garden, however, is readily accessible.
Here is one of the main entrances, called the Otemachi Gate.
The current Imperial Palace is the former site of Edo Castle, which was the residence of the Tokugawa feudal lord who ruled Japan from the beginning of the 17th to the middle of the 19th centuries. It became home to the Japanese emperors after they were restored as head of government in 1867.
The East Garden is surrounded by a wide moat.
Not a fish I would want to meet in a dark alley, or swimming pool.
Edo Castle’s tower and most of the related buildings are mere ruins now. A new palace was built for the Emperor in 1888. However, there are still many walls built of massive stone. They are quite imposing, to say the least.
Some of the samurai barracks also remain, like the one above.
This is one of the surviving castle keeps, which were used for storage and defense. It’s called Fujimi-Yagura, because you can sometimes see Mt. Fuji from the top story. Sadly it was not open to the public.
Cloud-pruned trees are common throughout the grounds. They seem a bit strange juxtaposed with a military barracks. I wonder if they stood here in the time of the Shogun.
In another area there is a naturalistic garden with a grove of bamboo.
This is part of the East Garden, called Ninomaru, looks more like a garden.
There are ponds and foot bridges. Crape Myrtles were just about the only plants we found in bloom.
We enjoyed the reflections of the trees in the waters.
A small waterfall at one end.
Gravel, stone, and water. In a mountainous country, it makes sense for stones to play a prominent role in the garden. Back home in Illinois (the prairie state), they seem to fit in only as a more understated element, like Jens Jensen’s low walls of horizontal limestone.
More cloud pruning on the way to another gate.
And more walls. I would love to be here when those trees are in bloom.
And here is the smaller gate through which we will take our leave.
A look back at the palace walls as we head back to our hotel. Overall, I would say this is a place absolutely worth visiting, but more out of historic than horticultural interest.