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Monday, 8th December 2014
In Events In Japan,

Imperial Palace draws visitors for leaf viewing

The Imperial Palace in Tokyo was filled with people this week as the Japanese royal residence opened its gates to allow visitors a sneak peek of the usually off-limits tree-lined road up to the main building.

More than 50,000 were allowed through the gates, in order to witness the vibrant shades of orange and red being exhibited by these maple trees, in a commonly upheld Japanese tradition known as koyo.

The line for admission began to form the previous night in front of the palace's Sakashitamon gate, and around 6,000 people had gathered there by 9:30am on Wednesday morning (December 3rd) to have the chance of being among the first in.

Among them was Shuichi Ishii, 71, who was visiting from the Saitama Prefecture town of Miyashiro.

"In the spring, I saw on the news that there were large crowds, so I gave up coming," she told Minichi, a Japanese and English news provider, adding that she is pleased to get in for the autumnal colours.

"I stood in line from 8am this morning. The fall foliage is beautiful, too, so I'm glad I came."

The avenue was open to the public from 10am until 2:30pm and entrance was entirely free, as it usually is to such events in Imperial grounds. Visitors were permitted to walk one way only, starting from the Sakashitamon gate.

The Imperial family is notoriously secretive and access to the Tokyo palace is heavily restricted at all times. Visitors are usually allowed to walk through just the east garden, where they can admire the incredible landscaping work.

As a vast patch of greenery in the middle of urban Tokyo, the Palace Gardens are frequented by walkers and joggers seeking some quiet from the hustle and bustle of city life. They are free to enter and are open all year round.

Related news stories:
Japan opens Tokyo Imperial Palace to public (23rd April 2014)
Prince William arrives in Japan (26th February 2015)
Kyoto celebrates Aoi Festival (23rd May 2014)
Kyoto celebrates dual festivals (5th November 2014)