Imperial Palace – 皇居

Kyoto’s Imperial Palace was once the residence of the Japanese Imperial Family, however in 1868 the capital and the emperor himself made the move to Tokyo leaving this building vacant. It is now a popular tourist site in the Kyoto Imperial Park which is located in the heart of the city. The palace complex is surrounded by long walls and has many gardens, halls and gates, and visitors are now able to enter and explore at will without needing to join a tour. However, for those who would prefer a more in-depth exploration, there are also tours in the English language.

Visitors should be aware, however, that although they can view the buildings from the exterior, they cannot enter them. The Kyoto Imperial Park is also home to the Sento Palace as well as some other historical sites such as the Kaninnomiya Mansion which is open for public viewing. There is also a branch shrine of the well known Itsukushima Shrine which is on a pond’s small island.

The spacious park is also a recreational space to enjoy, with gravel paths, attractive lawns and groves of trees including a group of pretty cherry trees which bloom between March and April.