We began one morning with a stroll through the public Gardens of the Imperial Palace in the center of downtown Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district, across from the Tokyo Station (main downtown train station) where our shuttle bus had dropped us off — our ship was anchored at the Harumi Passenger Terminal sever miles/kilometers southeast of the Imperial Palace. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Ginza district continuing to enjoy the architecture (our own extension to the Tokyo architecture walking tour of the day before [see our blog post, “Tokyo Architecture Walk, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)”]), having an excellent sushi luncheon, and shopping.
The Imperial Palace (former Edo Castle): “The Imperial Palace has occupied the site of the former Edo Castle since 1868 [the Meiji Restoration]. Edo Castle was the home of the Tokugawa Shoguns and the seat of the feudal samurai government which ruled Japan from 1503 until 1867. After the end of feudal rule in 1967, Edo Castle was vacated by the Shogun and transferred to the new Imperial Government. The Emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, after residing in Kyoto for over a millennium. There has been a castle on this site since 1457, when a castle that occupied the site of the Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru areas was built by the samurai Ota Dokan. From 1590 this castle was the home of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603. The Honmaru area included the massive keep tower, and the palace of the Shogun. Edo Castle was extended by the second and third Shoguns, Hidetada and Iemitsu, with work completed by 1660. Most of the original castle buildings have been lost to fire. The current Imperial Palace buildings were completed in 1968, in the Nishinomaru, which had been the palace of the retired shoguns during the Tokugawa shogunate.” – Kokyogaien National Garden Office, Ministry of the Environment (Japan)
The Main Gate and the Nijubashi Bridge: This gate is the main, formal entrance to the Imperial Palace grounds. It is used only when the Emperor leaves the Palace for important State occasions, for the official visits to the Palace by State guests, or when ambassadors present their credentials to the Emperor. Ambassadors are given the choice of arriving at the Palace in a horse-drawn carriage. The Main Gate to the Palace is open to the public on January 2nd and for the Emperor’s Birthday. Visitors to the Palace entering through the Main Gate cross two bridges, the Main Gate Stone Bridge and the Main Gate Iron Bridge. The Nujubashi Bridge refers to the Iron Bridge, not the two bridges. During the Edo period (1603-1867), because of its height above the moat, the Nijubashi Bridge was a wooden bridge reinforced underneath with a further wooden bridge, hence the name. The Palace buildings are hidden behind trees to the right of the Nijubashi Bridge… Special Historic Site Edo Castle Specified on May 30, 1963.
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