One of the more beautiful spots in Tokyo in our opinion is the imperial palace grounds and surrounding area. This is where the Emperor and Empress live and you can imagine the attention to detail of the area. It’s a wonderful area to come and escape the hustle and bustle of the city with it’s wide boulevards, open and airy pathways and beautiful gardens and green spaces.
Episode 27: https://youtu.be/4NAEyeG7wPM
We made an effort and managed to get out for the day at a decent time in the morning. We did have another McDonald’s breakfast, that streak continues. But even with breakfast we managed to make it out to our main destination for the day by about 10:30am. What an accomplishment!
We decided to spend our morning visiting the Imperial Palace grounds, including the vast East Gardens. It’s a beautiful and large space a 5 minute walk from Tokyo Station. A very large swath of the grounds are closed off to the public but if you’re interested you can book a tour that will take you into the palace. We have never opted for that option and always just enjoyed ourselves taking a walk around the imposing moats and gardens.
The main sights to come see of the immediate palace area are the two famous bridges, the stone bridge and the iron bridge. In the video I had totally botched the explanation of the bridges, and we actually missed the stone bridge which was directly in front of us. Where we filmed the two guards was over the stone bridge. To it’s right is the iron bridge. These bridges, or at least the location of these bridges have a long history dating back to the years when Tokyo was Edo and the Tokugawa shogunate still ruled Japan. Those old bridges have since been torn down and replaced with what we see today around the time of the Meiji Restoration. For a really good explanation of the bridges and their history checkout this page.
This spot is a perfect one for photos. The whole scene is perfectly manicured and presents very well. The wide moats, high stone walls, beautiful trees and the bridges themselves, you can see why it’s a famous place to come visit and photograph. It was here where I enjoyed an onigiri I picked up in Tokyo Station, an ume onigiri. Ume is a type of Japanese plum and in the form of my onigiri it’s called umeboshi which is a pickled ume. It’s definitely an acquired taste which I had by now acquired and the onigiri was definitely a step above the ones from a konbini like Family Mart.
After enjoying my onigiri in a beautiful setting we started to walk over to the East Gardens, my favourite part of a visit to the Imperial Palace. It’s a vast space with a good mix of gardens and structures to explore. It can easily take 2-3 hours to explore the entire gardens, we only had 1.5 and had to skip a section. What I love about this place is the history. One of my favourite spots in the gardens are the remains of the old Edo Castle tower. All that remains are the massive stone foundations, which you can walk up and get a good view over the gardens. But I like to imagine how it would have been back when the 5 storied tower was there. Visiting the Edo-Tokyo Museum the previous day gave a great idea of what this area would have looked like during the Edo period. Being able to visit both sites one day after another allowed for the contrast to sink in. As you walk around the gardens you can imagine the area completely full of buildings as you’re exploring the area inside the inner moat.
After working up an appetite strolling around the gardens we decided to head out for lunch. I still had tonkatsu on the brain and we knew of a great place in a department store across from Tokyo Station. In fact it was where we had lunch our first full day in Tokyo. Once we had gotten up there another restaurant grabbed our attention, a tempura restaurant. We hadn’t had much tempura on this trip so we opted to give it a try and we both had tendon, which is tempura served sauced over rice. It was delicious and we were both happy with lunch.
The rest of the day was spent running errands, mostly shopping, collecting gifts for people back home as well as all the things we need to hold us off until our next trip. We stopped by the KITTE shopping mall and witnessed the unveiling of their massive Christmas tree.
Finally my cravings for tonkatsu were satisfied when we came across a restaurant in the top of a department store in Ginza. It was spectacular, I can never get tired of deep fried pork cutlets. This place was the first we’d been to on this trip where you grind your own sesame seeds to make a dipping sauce for your tonkatsu. The aroma of the sesame as you grind the seeds is amazing.
After dinner we did a bit more shopping in Ginza and then headed back to the hotel. We were both exhausted from our long and fun day and were looking forward to a nights sleep. We’d have our last full day in Japan when we woke and had a lot of plans to cram in.
There were several locations featured in this episode
- Imperial Palace – Home to Japan’s Emperor and Empress, the Imperial Palace grounds are vast and impressive.
- Iron Bridge at Palace Grounds – Famous bridge connecting two sections of the grounds over one of the impressive moats.
- East Gardens of the Imperial Palace – Part of the grounds of the Imperial Palace, the gardens are a great place to come escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
- Tenpura Funabashiya – Excellent tendon lunch at this tempura restaurant across from Tokyo Station.
- KITTE Marunouchi – Shopping mall across from Tokyo Station which at the time of our visit was preparing their huge white Christmas tree for the season.
- Tonkatsu Restaurant – Amazing tonkatsu dinner at this restaurant at the top of a department store in Ginza. We lucked out and got a table with a view down over Ginza.
- Nissan Crossing (Concept) – Nissan’s concept gallery in the heart of Ginza.
- Park Hotel Tokyo – Our home away from home for our stay in Tokyo and the hotel we’ve chosen for each of our trips to Japan.
Thanks for watching/reading!