|Site of Edo Castle with Remaining Moats
and Stone Walls
The Imperial Palace sits in the center of Tokyo, on the site of the Edo Castle where the Shogunate (the government established by the military class) was located in the Edo period (1603-1868). Except for January 2 and the Emperor's Birthday (currently December 23) when public is allowed to the Imperial Palace to offer their congratulations, the general public are not allowed to enter the Emperor's residence. However, the gardens of the palace such as the Outer Garden (Kokyo Gaien), the East Garden (Higashi Gyoen), and Kitanomaru Park have been maintained as parks, and today these public gardens provide places of recreation and relaxation for the citizens of Tokyo.
Ieyasu Tokugawa became the first shogun of the Tokugawa
Shogunate in 1603 and started rebuilding the Edo Castle as a symbol of
the political and economic center of the nation. Rebuilding continued through
successive generations, and by 1710, under the reign of the 6th Shogun
Ienobu, the castle had become the largest in Japan surrounded by double
moats and with an area that extended about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from
east to west and about 3.9 kilometers (2.4 miles) from north to south.
Several of the original turrets and gates remain as they were or have been
restored to their original state, and the stone walls and moats remain
The East Garden marks where the keep of the castle that housed the central government offices and the residence of the shogun stood. Although the buildings of the keep were destroyed by fire in 1657, their structural ruins remain. The Outer Garden to the southeast of the palace is spacious, and looking toward the palace from the garden's side of the main gate, you can still see the remaining Fushimi Turret, a watchtower of the old castle, over the double-arched stone bridge. In Kitanomaru Park on the north side, there are various public facilities such as Nihon Budokan (martial arts stadium, also used for other sports and cultural events), the National Museum of Modern Art and Science Museum. The park is also famous for its cherry blossoms in spring.
Photo: (Top) The stone bridge and Fushimi Yagura (behind) seen from the Imperial Palace Outer Garden; (middle) cherry blossoms in Kitanomaru Park. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
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