Monday, 13th October 2014
In General Japan News,
Public invited to Imperial Palace
Japan's royal family is notoriously secretive, with the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and their former residence in Kyoto being completely off-limits apart from a few very select areas for much of the year.
However, a group of visitors had a rare opportunity to see inside the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo last weekend, with officials from the Imperial Household Agency guiding 50 people through the palace for around an hour last week.
The lucky guests were treated to an inside view of the royal household. A dining room set for dinner with tableware illuminated by 32 chandeliers overhead was among the precious sights witnessed, as well as the Seiden-Matsu-no-Ma room - a prestigious hall used for important occasions such as enthronement ceremonies for new emperors.
Those admitted to such intimate areas belonging to Emperor Akihito and his close family gained admittance after winning a raffle put on by the Imperial Household Agency. The tickets were very sought-after, and their being put on sale is far from an everyday occurence.
However, royalists visiting Tokyo and Kyoto can always explore certain aspects of the Royal Household, even if it is only the external gardens. Currently, visitors can witness the impressive moats and extraordinary stone walls of the royal residence in the capital from the outside, and also enjoy a stroll around the Imperial Palace East Gardens.
Other parts of the venue open to the public at certain times of the year, such as New Year's Greeting (January 2nd) when the inner grounds open their doors. Visitors are invited to see the Royal Family, who make an appearance on a balcony to wish luck for the coming year.
The former palace in Kyoto is sometimes entirely closed off during royal visits to the city, but there is an attractive park that visitors can explore and guided tours are made of the grounds. If you're keen to enter some of the buildings, advanced reservations are mandatory and can be made online at the Imperial Agency Office.