The East Gardens had never been high on my priority list as there aren't any fancy gardens or buildings you can tour through. My main interest in it would have been seeing Edo Castle, which burned down in 1873 and was never rebuilt. There are other palace buildings that survive, but it was really the castle that I would have wanted to see rather than the gardens.
There is actually a great deal of history tied up in the Imperial Palace. It was originally a castle established in the 15th century. Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, it became the center of their government. Under the Shogunate it was heavily expanded and built up. Earthworks reclaimed land from the sea, large defensive earthworks were built along with moats. Even the epic story of the 47 Ronin started here over a duel.
It turns out that I enjoyed the visit way more than I expected. No one had ever really talked about the defensive earthworks or surviving buildings all that much. Photos are generally of the same few places - like a corner guard tower near the front gate. Touring the well kept gardens allowed me to see the stone-clad earthworks that have survived to the present and they were way larger in scale than anything I was expecting (nice surprise). It helps that I have an interest in fortifications, but most people should be impressed by the stone walls. See this article I wrote on ancient fortifications. So, see the East Gardens if you have time, and the foundations of Edo Castle are still quite impressive without the castle on top.
|Nearby hotels and office buildings overlooking the palace grounds. A big moat surrounds the palace.|
|Kaiser Bakery in nearby Marunouchi.|
|I saw the big lines for the first time and said, that's not worth the wait, so I went for a croissant and coffee. Turns out the lines don't die down, so in I went.|
|Nice stone walls on the far side of the moat.|
|One of the surviving corner towers.|
|TOP: Walking by the police buses. BOTTOM: The kilometre of queues for the crowds. While I was there a police escore lead some dark sedans and a van out from the residential part of the Imperial Palace. I wonder if there was nobility in that caravan.|
|Main Gate. It shows up in the anime Gate.|
|Inside the grounds are very spacious. This road with no entry lead to the off limits residences of the Imperial Family.|
|A large corner tower. Some fall colours. Nicely groomed trees.|
|A guardhouse - there are musket firing loopholes in the white building.|
|Impressive fortification walls with a guardhouse on top.|
|You can see the moat and the tall buildings that surround the palace.|
|More moats. There were lots of people taking pictures of the fall foliage.|
|TOP: Distant shot of the entire foundations. BOTTOM: Walking up into the foundations. There was another big line here.|
|The original castle would have looked something like this. (From a geocraper model I own).|
|Some basemants inside the foundations.|
|The great stonework in the castle foundations.|
|Some big blocks of stone were used. These are small and medium blocks.|
|Beautiful fall colours.|
That's it for my quick overview of the East Gardens. I quite enjoyed my visit. It wasn't one of those things I was sad that I had put off for a long time, but it was something I was glad I did.
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