The iconic Fuji-mi Yagura 富士見櫓, or “Mt Fuji View Watchtower” is one of three keeps in the inner palace that dates from the Edo era, having been built in 1659.
The Imperial Palace in Tokyo stands on the foundations of the former Edo Castle, which has existed on the same site since 1457. In 1868, the Meiji Emperor moved from his Imperial Palace in Kyoto to the Edo Castle, renaming it the Tokei Castle 東京城. That act – and the subsequent consolidation of political power under the Imperial Monarchy – would be known as the Meiji Restoration.
Today’s Imperial Palace is the third palace complex that stands on the site. The Meiji, Taisho and Showa Emperors demolished much of the original Edo Castle, replacing them with structures in their own style. For example, the Meiji Emperor replaced the wooden Nijubashi bridges with one in stone and one in steel.
That Meiji-era Palace was severely damaged during World War II, and new structures were constructed in the 1960s. These are the ones the visitor sees today, when he joins one of the tours offered by the Imperial Palace Agency.
These tours are offered on weekdays only to tourists and the public, but an application must be made in advance to the Imperial Household Agency (through their website). It is well worth the effort to do so.
The Tatsumi Yagura 巽櫓 is another Edo-era structure sitting on the outer fortifications of the Palace.
The Nijubashi 二重橋 is actually two bridges – the 正門石橋 (Seimon Ishibashi), or “Main Entrance Stone Bridge” which one sees here, is the first bridge.
The Otemon 大手門 Gate is the main entrance for visitors.
The Former Privy Council Building is a Western style building erected in the late Taisho, early Showa era.
The Imperial Household Agency Headquarters is also another western-style structure built in the late Taisho early Showa era.
The Chowaden Reception Hall 長和殿 is the largest structure in the Main Palace 宮殿. It was built in the 1960s.
View of the Chowaden Reception Hall – and the friendly guide from the Imperial Household Agency.
Close-up of the Fujimi Yagura 富士見櫓 – one of the highlights of the tour is being able to pass literally right under it.
View of the Fujimi Yagura juxtaposed against the contemporary skyline of Chiyoda, Tokyo.
The Fushimi Yagura 伏見櫓 is the other iconic keep in the inner citadel that formed part of the original Edo Castle. In the foreground is the 正門鉄橋 (seimon tetsubashi), or “Main Entrance Steel Bridge,” which is the second of the Nijubashi (“Double Bridges”).
Close-up of the Fushimi-Yagura.
Dried up inner moat.
Outer moat with a view of the Imperial Household Agency.
Visitor map of the Imperial Palace Complex.