Inside The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace – What to See
July 27, 2017

Entrance of East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

I didn’t have a reservation with the Imperial Household Agency to visit the Palace Grounds, so the next best thing was to check out the East Garden. At least it’s still part of the Palace, and entry is free.

From my 30-minute batto class at HiSUi Tokyo, I did a leisurely walk toward the Garden. I first caught a glimpse of it on the bus when I arrived from my Mt. Fuji hike, and I thought it would make for a nice visit.

Getting In

There are two entry gates according to the Garden’s map. You can choose to get in either through the Ote-mon or Hirakwa-mon Gates.

At Ote-mon, my sling bag had to go through security (image below), but it was nothing detailed. It felt like they were just looking for something specific.

Ote-mon Gate Security Check East Garden Imperial Palace

Although access to the garden is free, visitors still have to get a plastic ticket at the ticket office. Upon exit, the ticket must be surrendered.

Ticket Office Imperial Palace East Gardens

Plastic Ticket East Gardens Imperial Palace

What to See in the Garden

The East Garden used to be site of the Edo Castle’s main buildings (Honmaru and Ninomaru). You can’t see any of these structures today, but expect walls, a wide lawn, an orchard, and three guardhouses.

O-bansho Guardhouse

O-bansho Guardhouse

Hyaku-nin-bansho Guardhouse

From the info board:

Hyaku-nin-bansho Guardhouse – The guardhouse positioned in the most critical point to guard the entrance to the Honmaru (the main compound) of the Tokugawa Shogunate’s Edo Castle. Hyaku-nin means 100 persons,
4 teams, each consisting of 120 guards, stationed the house [sic] in shifts day and night. The Hyaku-nin-bansho is one of the three remaining guardhouses of the Castle.

Beautiful Trees East Gardens

Beautiful trees inside the East Garden

Wide Lawn East Gardens

A wide lawn that was once the site of the Honmaru (Main compound)

Wide Lawn of Imperial Palace East Gardens

Another shot of the lawn

Tenshu-dai East Gardens

Tenshu-dai (base of the main tower)

On top of the Tenshu-dai

On top of the Tenshu-dai

Ishimuro (Stone Cellar)

From the info board:

Ishimuro (stone cellar) – A stone cellar, probably built as a shelter for important articles in case of fire. The cellar was close to the O-oku, the palace and living quarter for the Tokugawa Shogun’s consort and other women. The Tokugawa Shogunate’s era, which lasted for 265 years starting in 1603 saw the repetitions of fires and rebuildings of the palace complex on the Honmaru (the main compound) of the Edo Castle.

Fujimi-tamon Defense House

From the info board:

Fujimi-tamon Defence House – The Fujimi-tamon Defence House, possibly built in the mid-17th century,
is the sole surviving example of the defence houses which, in the period of the Tokugawa Shogunate, together with towers and walls, circled the Honmaru (the main compound) of the Tokugawa Shogunate’s Edo Castle.

Inside the Fujimi-tamon Defence House

Inside the Fujimi-tamon Defence House

Fruits at the Orchard

Fruits / Trees at the orchard

Fujimi Yagura

From the info board:

Fujimi-yagura – Yagura was a defence tower, usually placed on corners or on some important points of the castle. Of the many yaguras once built in the Tokugawa Shogunate’s Edo Castle, the Fushimi-yagura, Tatsumi-yagura, and Fujimi-yagura are the only three surviving ones. A former Fujimi-yagura, possibly built in the 17th century, was burnt down in a major fire in 1657. The current one was built in 1659 and served as substitute for the main tower of the castle, which burnt to the ground in the same fire and was never rebuilt. Some Tokugawa Shoguns saw Mt. Fuji, fireworks launched at Ryogoku, a riverside of the Sumida-gawa River, and the sea in the south direction.

Kikyo-bori Moat

Kikyo-bori Moat

Fujimi-yagura Seen from outside

The Fujimi-yagura, from outside the garden

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