For all the hooplah about walking the grounds where the once Emperor of Japan once ruled his kingdom before moving the palace to Tokyo, there sure isn’t much to see. The Kyoto Imperial Palace located in the southern part of the city is nearest to the Imadegawa JR Station. It offers entrance for guests to freely walk the grounds without a guide, reservation or fee, but it sure isn’t much fun.
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Kyoto Imperial Palace
3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 602-0881, Japan
Hours: 9am to 4-5pm depending on the time of year
Closed Mondays and Holidays
There are a few buildings, some descriptive signs, and a whole bunch of rope telling you where you can’t go. You can’t see anything besides the facades of buildings that look the same as anywhere else in Japan. You are positioned standing a few hundred feet away from anything of interest. The one thing you can see is the transition in building size from when the Emperor used by be carried around in a palanquin by servants, versus when they upgraded to animals.
Many people can be found on the park grounds enjoying the scenery, feeling important, and having picnics. Even the garden is closed off. For us, this was a huge waste of time.
► For Kids: This is a pretty boring attraction. You can’t touch anything, or even get close enough to anything to see what you are looking at. You can’t even walk through the garden.
Have you been here? We can see history aficionados getting excited to walk these grounds who might understand more about what they are seeing from so far away, but for a common tourist, even ones who really love history, this just feels like a way to impress upon the commoners how important their rulers are. If you go, bring binoculars.
What’s even more interesting is that the buildings on these grounds have burned down so many times, these aren’t the original buildings, or even replicas of the original buildings. But, they are still off limits. However, you can view a replica of the Kyoto Imperial Palace over at the Heian Shrine.
Not far from here is both the Goo Shrine, a shrine dedicated to Boars, and the Nijo Castle, the residence of the commander-in-chief to the Emperor from the 1600’s. Both are located a short walk to the west. Both are far better attractions to spend your time at.
►Nap-Time Version: This is much ado about nothing. This is a free walking tour of the grounds and buildings that used to house Japan’s Emperor, but now everything is roped off and you can’t view anything closer than a couple hundred feet. Unless you’ve got the eyes of a hawk, you won’t be missing much.