Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace) located in the middle of Kyoto was the official residence of the Japanese Imperial Family until 1868 when Tokyo became the capital city after the Meiji Restoration.
It is located within the vast area of the Kyoto Gyoen (Kyoto Imperial Park) and enclosed with walls. Inside the palace complex is a number of structures that represents the different architectural style of various periods of Japan.
The History of the Kyoto Gosho
The current Imperial Palace was built in 1855. It has been previously burnt and transferred many times since it has been the seat of the Emperor since the Heian Period. This is why its style can be traced back to that period, with pond gardens and vast gravel courtyards.
After the relocation of the Imperial Family to Tokyo, the palace was still used as a venue for ceremonies and Imperial enthronements. Emperor Taisho and Showa’s Imperial enthronement ceremonies were held at the Kyoto Gosho’s main hall.
The Different Structures at the Kyoto Gosho
The Kyoto Imperial Palace’s main buildings are the Seiryo-den (Emperor’s Habitual Residence), Shishin-den (Hall for State Ceremonies), and the Ko-gosho (Court Room). Of course, there are other structures within the palace grounds that are for aristocrats and government officials.
The main gate of the palace is a pretty impressive entrance with a beautiful cypress roof. It is where former emperors welcome dignitaries years ago. Near the southern gate, the Kanreimon Gate, is the Shimo Goryo Shrine which where the deity that guards the Imperial Palace lies. There are many other structures found within the palace grounds, all wonderfully detailed and well maintained.
How to get there
The Kyoto Gosho is located at Kyoto Gyoen 3, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto. Visitors can get on the Karasuma Subway Line from the Kyoto Station and stop at the Marutamachi or Imadegawa Station. From either of the stations, it would only take five to ten minutes to walk to the entrance gate of the Imperial Palace.
One could also get on the Kyoto City Bus number 205 and get off on Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae which is located at the east of the Kyoto Imperial Park. From the City Hall, it would take 15 minutes to walk along the Teramichi to reach the palace.
How to book a tour reservation
Foreigners can book a tour with their passport at the Kunaicho (Imperial Household Agency Office) located at the Imperial Park. There are several tours available on weekdays in Japanese or in English given by official guides.
Tours in Japanese start at 9:00A.M. while tours in English start at 10A.M. Online booking is also available but must be done in advance. There are several days during spring and autumn, however, when the palace is open to the public without tour reservations.
The Kyoto Gosho might not be as convenient as other popular destination as it requires advance booking but visiting the palace and its grounds is a wonderful experience. The architecture of the palace, although a bit modern compared to other ancient structures, still entirely reflects Japanese tradition and culture.
Surrounded by cherry blossom and muku trees and lovely gardens, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is quite a sight to see and marvel.