One of the most notable attractions in Kyoto, the Imperial Palace was once the home of the Imperial Family. Kyoto was also once the capital of Japan, but when it moved to Tokyo the Imperial family moved as well. Since then the Emperors have always lived in the Tokyo Imperial Palace which was restored in 1869. The Kyoto Imperial Palace was preserved in 1877.
History of the Kyoto Imperial Palace
After a significant and disastrous fire, the Kyoto Imperial Palace was reconstructed in 1855. Previous to the current structure, the original Imperial Palace was built in 794. The palace is still used for ceremonies and enthronement of a new Emperor.
What to do at the Kyoto Imperial Palace
The area surrounding the palace is known as Kyoto Gyoen garden which is a popular place to view cherry blossoms when they are in bloom and a special site during the autumn season when the trees change color. Gyoen garden also houses other imperial buildings such as the Sento Imperial Palace.
Off of Marutamachi Street, the main gate of the Kyoto Imperial Palace is on the south side of which was once the place where dignitaries would arrive to meet the emperors. Within the grand compound, there are several buildings and structures including the former residences and ceremonial halls along with a courtroom and a library.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace used to only be open to guided tours and private groups but is now open to the public for viewing with free entrance although visitors are not permitted to enter the buildings. In fact, no advanced arrangements need to be made as visitors are welcome to explore the palace and the surrounding garden and buildings. The large-scale park is some 1300 meters long and showcases the land with manicured paths and trees making it an ideal space for visitors to stroll through the grounds.
How to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace
To Kyoto Imperial Palace can be accessed from the Imadegawa Station (about a 5-minute walk to the entrance) or from the Karasuma-Imadegawa bus stop (also about a 5-minute walk). The Imadegawa Station is closer to the Palace entrance gate than Marutamachi Station which also provides access.
Kyoto Imperial Palace is open from 9:00 am -5:00 pm in the spring (April through August), 9:00 am -4:30 pm (September and March) and 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (October through February).
Admission is free but is not permitted 40 minutes before closure time
Note: Closed on Mondays
One of the best places in Kyoto to visit and explore, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is a look at the preservation of the past.