The Imperial Palace in Kyoto is the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan before it was moved to Tokyo in 1868 during the Meiji Restoration. The current Imperial Palace was reconstructed in 1855 after it had burnt down and was moved around town repeatedly over the centuries. It is surrounded by long walls with several gates, halls and gardens within.
You can only enter the palace grounds on a free guided tour, which must be booked in advance. We did it online about a week prior and just picked a session in English. Simple. Lasting an hour and a half, we watched a brief video, then wandered around in a massive group.
The shishinden (Hall of State Ceremonies) is the most important ceremonial building within the palace grounds. The enthronement ceremonies of Emperor Taisho and Emperor Showa took place here. We couldn’t see it up close, just an intriguing look through the jomeimon (inner gate).
The takamikura is the Imperial throne, hidden behind a canopy. The building itself had neat window shutters that were held open during summer to let the cool breeze in.
The architecture is very impressive, all mostly wooden, with dark cypress and bright vermillion.
The oike-niwa garden and pond is a good example of a traditional Japanese garden, with nicely trimmed trees, cute bridges and fringed by a gravel garden.
Leaving the Imperial Palace behind, we strolled around this part of town, stumbling into a small temple.
Visited 19th and 20th March 2014.