Kyoto Imperial Palace and its rich history


One of the famous tourist destinations in Japan is the majestic Kyoto Imperial Palace. A place where power was once proudly displayed, this palace is sure to capture everyone’s curious eyes with excitement. A place where Imperial Enthronement usually happens, this palace is rich in both mystery and history.

In this article, the beauty of the Kyoto Imperial Palace will unfold as we go down memory lane with the following features of the palace itself.

The Palace Layout

Dating back to the time when emperors ruled the land of Japan, palaces have been known to exist as a residence of the emperor and his family. It also existed to showcase royalty and power. The Kyoto Imperial Palace showcases both royalty and power through its majestic structures inside and out. The palace is strategically situated in Kyoto- gyoen where it was converted into a national park since the Emperor decided to move its capital to Tokyo in 1869. It was enclosed into a 1,300 metre rectangular area with walls built around the entire palace. Built within the walls are two other estates- the Sento Imperial Palace and the Kyoto State Guest House. The estate dates from the early Edo period when Japan was under the ruling of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It has been said that since the Imperial Palace was moved to Tokyo, the noble courts were asked to be demolished, thus opening the area to the public. The palace is situated in the very heart of Kyoto and was considered as the Central Park of Japan. It is surrounded by lush trees and man-made lakes within. The palace also serves as a landmark in Kyoto, considering tourists are not very familiar in the area.

History within the Palace Walls

Originally, the Kyoto Imperial Palace was named Heian-Kyo when it was still considered as the location of the Imperial Palace. It served as a ruling palace for the emperor of Japan and his family for a millennium before it was moved to Tokyo. Imagine the grandeur of the palace housing the most powerful family of Japan at that time. The palace was built in the middle of the old capital Heian-kyo (Kyoto). Having been situated in the middle of the city, it sure had made Kyoto one of the tourists’ dream destinations. The final abandonment of the Heian Palace was in the late 12th century. The palace also houses some of Kyoto’s greatest treasures of Japanese culture. Since the Japanese treasure tradition, the Kyoto Imperial palace strictly imposes their rules within their walls. These rules include no entry in the palace buildings; pets and large baggage are not allowed; commercial filming or photography is not permitted. The current version of the palace that was often visited by tourists was completed in 1855. Like all other historical places, destruction and rebuilding have occurred multiple times of which fire was one of the causes why it had to be rebuilt. Even if the palace had been burned down multiple times, its reconstruction was maintained as faithfully as possible. The palace had also witnessed some of Japan’s enthronement ceremonies within its grounds making it a place for gatherings for Japan’s powerful people.

Features of the Palace

The Kyoto Imperial Palace showcases so many grand palaces inside its ancient walls. It was torn down when they moved the palace to Tokyo making it available to the public. The Hall of State Ceremonies, called the Shishiiden in Japanese, is also situated within its grounds and is considered the most important building in the palace as it holds the enthronement ceremony. The white gravel- surrounded garden of Dan-tei is also situated in the southern part of the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Since the palace is majestic enough to house many landscapes, they featured a park that serves as a recreational area for both tourists and its residents. The palace is mostly famous for its weeping cherry trees and cherry blossoms. The Imperial palace also showcases the Omiya and Sento Palace. During the reign of Emperor Go-Mizunoo, the Omiya palace served as the residence for the Empress Dowager Nyoin while the Sento palace was for the emperor’s retirement. These palaces are now used as places to stay when the Imperial family visits. Matching its majestic structures, it has a garden that features different types of Japanese plants that serves as an ornament inside and outside the palace grounds.

How to Get There

Primarily, if you were to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace you would have to decide on what mode of transportation you’ll be taking. Some people go to Kyoto by the Shinkansen if you’re coming from Tokyo. You can also try the Interurban lines which are identified as your typical train if you are staying somewhere closer like in Osaka. Some people also try the Meishin Expressway link which is a bus ride that goes through the highways of Japan. If you are up for sightseeing purposes, you definitely have to try this mode of transportation.


They say that the best way to explore a place is to discover the history hidden within its walls. The Kyoto Imperial Palace will definitely satisfy your cravings for rich history. Hidden within its walls are buildings that serve as a foundation for Kyoto’s richest tradition and culture. Having served as the residence of the Imperial Family, the palace exudes power and royalty. The proof is The Hall of State Ceremonies that held the most important tradition of Japan of all time- the enthronement ceremony. Featuring its architectural grandeur the palace is also considered one of Kyoto’s treasured heritage sites. The palace is situated at the very heart of Kyoto makes it a city landmark no one would miss. Its rich history also draws tourists to visit its palace grounds and look back at the stories that lie within its very foundation. There is no better way to tell the history of the Kyoto Imperial Palace than to go and see in person the heritage that the Japanese have preserved for many centuries despite its destruction and rebuilding over time.


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