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Imperial Palace Tokyo Japan

Imperial Palace Tokyo Japan (Known places)

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Tags: japan (69 pics), tokyo (11 pics)

Tokyo Imperial Palace (皇居, kōkyo; literally Imperial Residence) is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in Chiyoda, Tokyo close to Tokyo Station and contains various buildings such as the main palace (Kyūden (宮殿)) and the private residences of the imperial family. The total area including the gardens is 3.41 square kilometers. During the height of the 1980 (40 years ago) Japanese property bubble, the palace grounds were valued by some as more than the value of all the real estate in the state of California.


After the capitulation of the Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration, the inhabitants including the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu had to vacate the premises of Edo Castle. In the second year of Meiji, on the 23rd day of the 10th month (1868, 152 years ago), the emperor left Kyoto Imperial Palace for Tokyo. The Edo castle compound became the new imperial residence and was renamed Tokyo Castle (東京城, Tokyo-jō) in October, 1868 (152 years ago), and then renamed Imperial Castle (皇城, Kōjō) in 1869 (151 years ago). Previous fires had already destroyed the Honmaru area containing the old donjon (which itself had burned in the 1657 (363 years ago) Meireki fire). On the night of 5 May 1873 (147 years ago) a fire consumed the Nishinomaru Palace (which had been the shogun's residential palace), and this area became the site of the new imperial Palace Castle (宮城, Kyūjō), built in 1888 (132 years ago).

In the Meiji era, most of the structures from Edo Castle disappeared, either to make way for other buildings or due to earthquakes and fire. For example, the wooden double bridges (二重橋, Nijūbashi) over the moat were replaced with stone and iron bridges. The architecture of the imperial palace and buildings constructed in the Meiji era was from the outside pure traditional Japanese architecture, while the interiors were an eclectic mixture of Japanese and European elements fashionable in the 19th century. Most of the buildings were constructed from wood. The ceilings of the grand chambers were coffered with Japanese elements; however, Western furniture such as chairs and tables, together with heavy curtains, were used. For the floors, the public rooms had parquet or carpet but the residential spaces used the traditional tatami mats.

The main audience hall was the central part of the palace. It was the largest building, in which guests were received for public events. The floor space was more than 223 tsubo (1 tsubo is 3.306 m²). In the interior, the coffered ceiling was traditional Japanese-style, while the floor was parquetry. The roof was styled as in the Kyoto Imperial Palace, but was covered with copper plates (in order to make it fireproof) rather than Japanese cypress shingles.

In the late Taisho and early Showa eras, more buildings were added that were constructed with concrete, such as the headquarters of the Imperial Household Ministry and the Privy Council. These structures were more modern in appearance with only some token Japanese elements.

From 1888 (132 years ago) to 1948 (72 years ago), it was called Palace Castle (宮城, Kyūjō). On the night of 25th May 1945 (75 years ago) most of the structures of the Imperial Palace were destroyed in the Allied fire-bombing raid. It was from the basement of the concrete library that Emperor Showa declared the capitulation of Japan in Aug. 1945 (75 years ago). Due to the large-scale destruction of the Meiji-era palace, the new main palace hall (Kyūden (宮殿)) and residences were constructed on the western part of the site in the 1960 (60 years ago). The whole area was renamed literally Imperial Residence (皇居, Kōkyo) in 1948 (72 years ago). The east part was renamed East Garden (東御苑, Higashi-Gyoen) and has been a public park since 1968 (52 years ago).

The present imperial palace encompasses the retrenchments of the former Edo Castle where the Honmaru (inner citadel), Ninomaru (second citadel), Nishinomaru (west citadel), Sannomaru (third citadel), and Fukiage Gardens existed. A palace (Kyūden (宮殿)) for various imperial court functions is located in the Nishinomaru and the residence of the emperor and empress is located in the Fukiage Gardens.

The Kitanomaru Park is located to the north and is the former northern enceinte of Edo Castle. It is a public park and Nippon Budokan Hall is located there. To the south are the large outer gardens of the imperial palace, which is also a public park. A bronze monument to Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa (北白川宮能久親王, Kitashirakawa-no-miya Yoshihisa-shinnō) is located there.




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