- Type: Castles/Palaces, Monuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens
- Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
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You'd think that the Imperial Palace would be mobbed with tourists, but it's not. You can credit the lack of crowds to an application policy, which limits the number of visitors. Some visitors report that you should request tickets several weeks in advance to ensure admittance. These guided tours are only in Japanese, although an English pamphlet and audio guide are available. Since entering the palace requires planning (and even receives mixed reviews), most travelers come to the Imperial Palace for its lovely grounds. The East Gardens are made accessible for guests year-round. This flourishing green space has plenty of shady spots in which to recline and open fields in which to picnic.
Visitors are free to explore the East Gardens anytime between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The park closes a half hour earlier during the winter and a half hour later during the summer. Tours of the palace are given at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on weekdays for free, and they usually last one hour and fifteen minutes. To reach the Imperial Palace and its grounds, take the Chiyoda, Tozai, Marunouchi, Hanzomon or Mita subway lines to the Otemachi Station. For more information and to apply for a visit, check out the Imperial Household Agency's website.