Imperial Palace Open to the Public
Crowded, but merry place for Japanese people
In commemoration of Emperor's 80 years (but soon Emperor is becoming 81!), a part of Imperial Palace was open to the public. Usually commoners can enter the palace only twice a year, on Emperor's birthday 23 December and New Year's Celebration day 2nd January. But this year 2014 is special and many middle aged Japanese people all together came to the palace.
The route was strictly controlled by policemen and many officers from Imperial Household Agency. Visitors enter only through Sakashitamon gate, but they have to make looooooooong loop before arriving the gate. The nearest metro station to Sakashitamon is Nijubashi (Chiyoda line) or Otemachi (Mita, Hanzomon, Marunouchi, Tozai lines), but you can not go straight to the gate which is located within just 10 minutes distance in normal period, because you have to go by roundabout route guided by polite policemen. This is the way to make so much people keep on moving without getting bored, so be patient and just follow the people ahead. Walk along the moat where some ducks are floating, and go though peaceful pine trees ground, after passing some roads controlled by gentle guards you arrive in front of Double bridge.
Looking beautifully renovated Double bridge (Nijubashi) on your left, further proceed to Sakashita mon gate. Having finished baggage check, there is anothre queue waiting for you. But don't be discouraged, look the people around you who are so happy to be able to come here. Some are people from country side who came to Tokyo just in order to visit Imperial Palace. You might be surprised to know how deeply our Emperor is loved by them.
After passing Sakashitamon gate one may feel relatively free. People are busy with taking photos of some spots such as palace building, Fujimi Yagura tower which keeps the original form of Edo period with background of comtemporary high buildings of Japans biggest companies, and tiny Dokan pond which reflects surrounding trees on its surface. But the most impressive objects here are orange or red coloured maple trees and yellow leaves of Ginko trees. Here you may notice that the real purpose of these middle aged people's visit is to admire these trees in Imperial Palace.
In working days the required time is almost 2 hours, but on weekends definitely more. If the weather is fine, it is fun. It is just like Disneyland for elder people. Of course there are many young people who come out from the exit Inuimon gate with big smile.
I just hope that this peaceful and charming place keeps the same form for a long time, probably with more days open to the public......
Sorry for uploading this article too late when the event has been already finished. But if you do not mind walking slowly and sometimes just standing on crowded place for 2 hours, you may have the other chances on our Emperor's birthday (23rd December) and New Year's Celebration Day (2nd January). Soon more detail infomation would be published on the site of Imperial Household agency. http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/eindex.html
Otherwise in the tour of "First Day in Tokyo", we visit outer ground of Imperial Palace in normal period. Don't worry, it does not take 2 hours, usually 30 minutes. For detail, please take a look at: